Uber Co-Founder's Crypto Brokerage Firm Now Publicly Trading on Canadian Stock Exchange

Voyager, a brokerage firm that focuses on finding the best rates for bitcoin (BTC) and other cryptocurrencies, has decided to go public on Toronto, Canada’s Venture Exchange (TSX-V).

According to the company’s announcement, Voyager’s shares will be publicly listed - after the completion of a recent “reverse merger” valued at about $60 million. Launched by former Uber chief technical officer, Oscar Salazar, the (previously) privately-held firm acquired UC Resources Ltd., a publicly-traded mineral exploration company.

The acquisition is reportedly part of a deal that involves UC Resources signing a share-purchase agreement proposed by Voyager’s management.UC Resources and Voyager have now jointly established Voyager Digital (Canada) Ltd., and this new commercial entity’s shares are currently listed on the TSX Ventures Exchange under the ticker VYGR.V.

Commenting on the merger, Stephen Ehrlich, the CEO at Voyager, remarked:

By becoming a publicly traded entity, Voyager allows the traditional investing community to tap the public markets for exposure to this important asset class and financial utility that is built upon the technology of the future.

According to Ehrlich, the Voyager’s decision to go public could bring a “high level of trust” to the company’s clients. He explained that the newly established business entity, Voyager Digital, would allow traditional equities traders to indirectly gain exposure to cryptoassets by purchasing Voyager’s shares. In an official company blog post, Ehrlich wrote: 

This type of exposure will help more people become comfortable with the crypto market and ultimately increase widespread adoption.

Not Charging Usage Fees Or Commission

Established in July 2018, Voyager aims to provide a convenient way to trade bitcoin and other digital assets. The fintech startup offers a mobile app that allows users to compare cryptocurrency prices - based on quotes from several different exchanges. Because of this feature, Voyager’s management claims its customers are able to get the best (or cheapest) rates for cryptos. Notably, there’s no commission charged for using Voyager’s app, as the company reportedly generates revenue from capturing small spreads on cryptocurrency price movements.

During a recent interview with CCN, Ehrlich revealed how the Voyager app matches the best orders for its customers. He explained: 

Best execution has four components: price, quantity, the depth of liquidity, and the reliability of the API on the exchanges. We look at all those factors and try to get you the best execution possible. We’ve built a really detailed, complex algorithm to make sure that we can execute across all those exchanges and still be able to bring back the best execution quality back to our customer.

Securing Partnerships With Market Makers To Provide Greater Liquidity 

Ehrlich further noted that a greater level of “transparency” (from exchanges and crypto-related service providers) was required before more investors could be persuaded to invest in digital assets.

He added:

We are legally required to disclose both quarterly and annual reports as well as mergers, acquisitions, insider trading, securities transactions by company insiders, and ownership changes.

Going on to mention that Voyager is under obligation to help its shareholders earn a return on their investments, Ehrlich confirmed that the company had raised $7 million through private funding, in addition to the most recent $60 million funding round. Voyager’s management has also reportedly secured partnerships with ten market makers and digital asset exchanges, in order to gain access to more liquidity.

Additionally, Voyager has been granted a money transmitter license in 10 different US states. At present, the crypto startup is planning to obtain the same license in 20 more US states.

Overstock CEO Sells Shares in His Company to Invest in Blockchain Projects

Patrick Byrne, the chief executive officer of Overstock.com (OSTK), has recently lashed out at investors who questioned his sale of 900,000 of his ‘founders shares’ in the company. Justifying his move, he revealed he needed the funds to invest in blockchain projects.

According to Business Insider, Byrne recently sent a letter to shareholders after the company’s stock prices plunged over 21% this week to their lowest since 2012, after he revealed he sold 500,000 of his shares earlier this week.

On Friday, the CEO revealed he sold an additional 400,000 shares, meaning he sold over 15% of his stake in the company. Although Overstock’s shares recovered on Friday, May 17, Byrne’s letter to shareholders was notable. In it, he wrote:

I simply had to supplement my nominal salary with stock sales in order to fulfill personal commitments to invest personally in blockchain projects such as Medici Land Governance, along with a need to meet charitable pledges.

The CEO added that he doesn’t plan on giving such an explanation again, justifying that he owes shareholders “staying within the law and not making decisions based on inside information, not explanations of my life and projects outside Overstock.”

He noted that the “unanticipated stir” caused by his sale was unexpected, and added “I had no idea that shareholders would demand explanations of why and how I might want to use my cash derived from my labor and my property to pursue my ends in life.”

Byrne is notably Overstock’s largest shareholder, and noted he told investors a year ago he would be making “significant sales” to fund different projects, including those related to blockchain technologies and, presumably, cryptocurrencies.

In fact, the libertarian sold 775,000 of his shares in September of last year, before this week’s sale. The stock’s price has fallen roughly 90% from its record high in January of 2018, when Overstock was benefitting from its cryptocurrency ventures and accompanying the cryptocurrency market’s performance.

In November of last year, Byrne revealed he had plans to sell Overstock’s retail business and go “all-in” on cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. The CEO’s plan would see the company focus on its fully-owned subsidiary Medici Ventures, which has been invested in blockchain-related startups, after selling its retail business.

Overstock's price performance over the last two yearsSource: Yahoo Finance

Byrne has notably been battling short sellers targeting Overstock, as the firm competes with the likes of eBay and Amazon. Financial analytics firm S3 Partners has estimated short bets against it stand at $157 million, or 50% of its float. This makes it more targeted by short sellers than 99% of companies in the U.S.

Despite the company’s performance on exchanges, Overstock has since launched its tZERO security trading platform, and was one of the first companies to pay a “portion” of its taxes using bitcoin in Ohio.