Digital asset exchange platform Coinbase has acquired Earn.com, a startup that enables sending and receiving of digital currency payments for targeted microtasks. The deal, valued at $100 million, will put Earn.com CEO and co-founder Balaji Srinivasan at the helm as Coinbase’s first Chief Technical Officer.
Calling Srinivasan “one of the most respected technologists in the crypto space,” and “one of the technology industry’s few true originalists,” Coinbase co-founder and CEO Brian Armstrong wrote on the company blog that “as CTO of Coinbase, Balaji will serve an important role as the technological evangelist for the company. Balaji will evangelize for both crypto and for Coinbase, educating the world and recruiting crypto-first talent to the company.”
Earn.com, the company Srinivasan co-founded, works by enabling senders to pay users in digital currency for replying to emails and completing tasks. Large-scale commercial email senders and average email users alike benefit from Earn.com’s paid email platform. Commercial senders can use the technology to pay email recipients to respond to surveys and messages recruiting, fundraising, and marketing products and services. Average email users can make money via their Earn.com accounts by replying to these emails, as well as use the prices on incoming email to prioritize and manage inboxes.
Srinivasan was a General Partner at Andreessen Horowitz when he became CEO of the bitcoin mining company that would become Earn.com. In 2015, he helped the company pivot to take advantage of the growing feasibility of Bitcoin micropayments by creating a new solution, paid email, that offered a new direction for the company and a clear use case for digital assets in micropayments.
“As of today, Earn,com is a fast-growing, cash-flow positive business with a multimillion dollar revenue run rate,” Srinivasan wrote in an article titled The Turnaround at Medium.com. “I think it’s fair to say that it’s one of the first truly useful blockchain-based applications, where users can earn money in their spare time while senders can pay people to actually reply to their emails and fill out their surveys.”
“We’re going to be doubling down on the Earn business within Coinbase,” Armstrong said. “(They) have built a paid email product that is arguably one of the earliest practical blockchain applications to achieve meaningful traction.”
The Earn.com acquisition and new CTO come amid a busy spring for the cryptocurrency platform. Earlier this month, the company announced the launch of Coinbase Ventures, a new venture fund to support early-stage cryptocurrency and digital asset-based startups, and added Rachael Horwitz as Vice President of Communications. In March, Coinbase unveiled a set of new tools to help cryptocurrency investors and traders remain compliant with tax laws, and introduced its Coinbase Index Fund to give crypto investors exposure to all digital assets listed on its exchange.
Coinbase began the year with another successful talent grab: acquiring the engineering team from Memo.AI. Founded in 2012 and headquartered in San Francisco, Coinbase demonstrated its Instant Exchange solution at FinovateSpring 2014. One of fintech’s more recent unicorns with a valuation of more than $1.6 billion, Coinbase has raised more than $225 million in funding and includes Draper Fisher Jurvetson (DFJ), Institutional Venture Partners (IVP), Bank of Tokyo – Mitsubishi UFJ, and Andreessen Horowitz among its investors.