Crypto Insiders Ready for Final Stock Trades of a Brutal Year

A few major plays from prominent crypto bigwigs have pushed the total value of insider stock buys this year far beyond sales

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Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong | Blockworks exclusive art by Axel Rangel modified by Blockworks

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Insiders at public crypto companies are busy squaring away their final stock plays for the year, with execs at Coinbase, Marathon, Bakkt and others executing nearly $13 million in trades over the past month.

Most of those trades were sales.

Coinbase’s executives led the charge by altogether selling $10.6 million in company stock since this time last month. Brian Armstrong, Coinbase’s long-serving CEO, offloaded more than $1.32 million in shares between Nov. 21 and Dec. 12, for an average price of $44.43.

Armstrong in October pledged to sell 2% of his Coinbase stock to fund life extension and other scientific research. The top US crypto exchange’s shares now trade 22% below Armstrong’s most recent sale price, having recorded consecutive record lows this month as crypto stocks continue to take a battering alongside digital asset prices.

Coinbase Chief Financial Officer Alesia Haas cashed in even more, having sold more than $9.1 million in shares for $43.70 on average — representing 86% of all Coinbase insider stock sales over the past month.

General Counsel Paul Grewal and Chief Accounting Officer Jennifer Jones each sold smaller sums, worth about $80,700 and $95,400, respectively.

Bitcoin mining executives at Riot Blockchain and Cipher Mining also shifted stock. Riot Chief Compliance Officer Chad Everett Harris sold more than 75,500 shares for $4.15 a piece on average, bringing in $313,600. 

Cipher CEO Tyler Page got rid of far fewer company shares worth under $29,000, per OpenInsider data compiled by Blockworks, which references SEC filings.

Institutional crypto services platform Bakkt saw its own sales: VPC Impact Acquisition Holdings, a Victory Park Capital affiliate and 10% owner, jettisoned $124,000 in stock over the past month, bringing its total Bakkt sales for the year to nearly $1.8 million.

And while not a pure-play crypto stock, discount brokerage Robinhood clocked $1.76 million in insider sales across the same period. 

Bhatt Baiju, chief creative officer, sold the most with $861,000, followed by CEO Vlad Tenev ($780,000) and General Counsel Martin Gallagher Jr. ($122,000).

Most trades in this report were made according to pre-lodged trading plans filed with the SEC.

Crypto insiders have altogether bought more stock than they’ve sold

Insiders at just two public crypto companies Blockworks analyzed — Coinbase and Marathon — bought stock over the past month. Shopify CEO Tobias Lütke, who joined the Coinbase board in January, gathered an additional $1.52 million stake over the past month. 

Lütke has bought almost $7.2 million in Coinbase stock this year, split across regular weekly buys worth $396,000 on average. Lütke has overall collected 115,804 shares for $61.46 on average this year. 

Coinbase currently trades for $35.05, meaning Lütke is down 43% on his Coinbase buying strategy in 2022.

Marathon board number Kevin DeNuccio, who became a director at the leading mining firm last January, bought 70,000 company shares for $4.84 on average, representing a $339,000 trade. Marathon stock is now trading 20% below that price point.

In fact, the data shows insiders across the 12 public crypto firms analyzed have spent just under $98.2 million on their own companies’ stock over the past year — double what they’ve sold.

Coinbase insiders have bought the most by far with $84 million, led by co-founder Fred Ehrsam with $76.8 million all by himself. 

Ehrsam sold 1.5 million Coinbase shares in the months following the firm’s direct listing last April, fetching $328.18 on average to generate $492.3 million. Coinbase stock would need to surge 800% to reclaim that price.

Execs at bitcoin mining firms Terawulf ($10.85 million), Stronghold ($1 million), and Marathon ($556,000) also bet on their own companies, while those at software intelligence unit MicroStrategy acquired $1.5 million in shares between May and June.

Struggling bitcoin miner Core Scientific saw more sales than any other stock, with co-founder and Chief Vision Officer Darin Feinstein unloading $18.3 million in company shares across late May and early June for an average price of $3.05.

Core Scientific stock has sunk 92% since Feinstein’s sales. The firm warned investors it was close to bankruptcy last month and would fail to meet debt obligations.

Updated Dec. 19, 2022 at 2:38 pm ET: Added context about Ehrsam’s trades.


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