Cryptocurrency–The ongoing bear cycle for the cryptocurrency markets throughout 2018, which have seen the steady erosion of over $600 billion in market capitalization, have provided “opportune” conditions for a subset of companies and investors.
According to a report out of CNBC published on Oct 18, not only have cryptocurrency deal makers managed to thrive as coin prices plummet but they have also found opportunity to capitalize on the bear market in the form of merger and acquisition. While Bitcoin prices have fallen 54 percent on the year, merger and acquisition activity for cryptocurrency companies has more than doubled during that time, according to data from PitchBook and JMP Securities. Chief among the drivers of merger and acquisition is a relative “land grab” for new blockchain and crypto technology, with the access to new markets such as those in the developing world and parts of South America being particularly attractive, as well as the high demand for talented employees in the growing space–one that is only now being caught up on in terms of training through traditional finance routes and educational institutions.
Satya Bajpai of JMP Securities reported that acquisition in the current landscape of crypto remains an attractive proposition due to the nexus of Bitcoin pricing extending to the value of blockchain and cryptocurrency projects. Rather than being valued on an individual basis, crypto companies and token-based startups have seen their value tethered to the performance of the number one cryptocurrency by market capitalization. With the waning price of BTC throughout 2018, these companies have become cheaper to acquire, despite growing in potential, userbase and the viability of the underlying technology. Bajpai reports that this fixation on BTC valuation has created an “ideal opportunity for strategic acquirers,” with smart investors looking at growth opportunity as the most efficient manner for dominating the crypto space,
“As soon as a company becomes interesting, they get bought–the deal size may still remain small, but the number of deals will increase because that’s the most viable and fastest way to grow in this environment.”
Just as many crypto enthusiasts and investors have pointed out the contradiction of falling prices throughout 2018, that adoption and development for the industry has managed to grow despite the slumping market cap, Bajpai sees the current landscape of crypto as being opportune for the right parties–and the number of deals being made throughout the year reflects his belief. Compared to the 47 total merger and acquisition deals completed throughout 2017, 115 m&a deals have already been made in 2018, on pace to hit 145 by year’s end. Despite Bitcoin reaching an all time high of $20,000 in December 2017, the acquisition of cryptocurrency-based companies has made for the more attractive proposition in the price-depressed market of October 2018, with many acquirers seeing the current valuation as a deal too good to pass up.
Until crypto startups and token based projects begin an independent valuation not tied to the performance of BTC, the ongoing bear market will continue to produce technology that–in the eyes of some analysts–is grossly undervalued. Speaking with CNBC, Bajpai put the state of the industry in blunt terms,
“You’re seeing a mispricing of assets. Even for great businesses, the value of the token remains correlated to bitcoin, which can create an ideal opportunity for strategic acquirers.”