Cryptocurrency/Blockchain Mania Takes A Surprising Turn With LongFin Corp

The trading in recent IPO LongFin Corp. (LFIN) may go down as iconic in this era of frenetic trading in almost anything related to cryptocurrencies and blockchains. After debuting last Wednesday, December 13th at $5 and little to no fanfare, LFIN took off like a rocket two days later on the heels of news of the purchase of blockchain company Ziddu in a related-party transaction. Ziddu is owned by LFIN CEO Venkat Meenavalli, has no revenues, and its website and service is in beta. Such details did not prevent traders from delivering to LFIN a multi-billion market cap. LFIN suddenly looks like one of those biotech research and development IPOs that captures the market’s imagination for a few months or quarters until the first drug trials start rolling in.

If the story ended there, it would be bizarre enough.

The LFIN drama took a surprising and fascinating turn after the CEO participated in a VERY spirited and sometimes contentious interview on CNBC’s Fast Money on Monday, December 18th. In a refreshing display of brutal honesty, Meenavalli insisted that his company’s market cap did not make any sense given his small revenues. He said the market cap is “not justified”, “not really”, even “insane.” He called the trading in his company’s stock a “euphoric mania.” As an example, he said he went IPO at $5 and a $350M market cap, a price which he thought was a fair price for his company at 5x revenue. Meenavalli emphatically disassociated himself from the mania and euphoria that has captured his stock. To his credit, he noted his 55% ownership of the company sitting in restricted stock with no ability to or plans to sell because of his belief in the company. He promised that he locked himself out from selling for the next 3 years.

Meenavalli tried to focus attention on the real merits of LongFin. He was keen to promote his company as a unique fintech company which focuses on disintermediation. The blockchain component pegs its transactions to Ethereum and plans to serve the microlending world where major financial institutions refuse to play. This shadow banking is a $72 trillion market. Meenavalli plans to make $3M in revenue from Ziddu next year. The current company has generated $28M in revenue in the past 6 months. For the full year, Meenavalli is looking at $65M to $70M in revenue with an $8 to $9M EBITDA. He is relatively confident in a 200% growth rate going forward.

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Full disclosure: no position

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