Circle has announced that it plans to become a public company. The cryptocurrency company will merge with Concord Acquisition Corp, a SPAC. Circle is better known as one of the founding members of the Centre consortium with Coinbase. Along with other crypto partners, they have issued USD Coin (USDC), a popular stablecoin.
A SPAC is a publicly traded blank-check company. Merging with a SPAC has become a popular way to become a publicly listed company for tech companies.
According to Circle, the deal should value the company at $4.5 billion. Investors involved in the merger have committed $415 million in PIPE financing. The company also recently raised $440 million in capital. In other words, Circle will have plenty of capital on its hands if the merger goes through.
Created in 2013, the company originally wanted to create a mainstream bitcoin payment platform. But the company later pivoted to create a social payments app. Circle became a sort of Venmo clone with some blockchain technology under the hood. At some point, Circle even removed the ability to send and receive bitcoins.
“We never thought of ourselves as a bitcoin startup. The media certainly classified us that way because we were involved with the technology. From the day we founded the company three years ago we’ve focused on trying to build a new consumer finance company. And one that makes money work the way the internet works,” Circle co-founder and CEO Jeremy Allaire told TechCrunch’s Natasha Lomas in 2016.
While that consumer play didn’t take off, it's interesting to see that Allaire was already thinking about being able to programmatically move money. In 2017 and 2018, the company pivoted once again to focus on cryptocurrencies. It launched an over-the-counter trading desk for big cryptocurrency investors.
It acquired Poloniex, one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in the U.S. at the time. It also launched Circle Invest, a really simple mobile app that let you buy and sell a handful of crypto assets.
But Circle’s most promising product has been its stablecoin — USD Coin, or USDC for short. As the name suggests, 1 USDC is always worth 1 USD. Unlike traditional cryptocurrencies, you can be sure that the value of USDC isn’t going to fluctuate like crazy. Auditing firms regularly check that issuers always keep as many USD in bank accounts as USDC in circulation.
With USDC, moving money from one wallet to another becomes as easy as using standard API calls. The company has then added various infrastructure products around USDC, such as Circle Accounts. Circle has also built ramps to bridge the gap between fiat currencies and cryptocurrencies.
There are currently $25 billion USDC in circulation and the company believes there will $190 billion USDC in circulation by the end of 2023. And Circle plans to leverage the popularity of USDC to build financial services that take advantage of USDC.