EOS Startup Block.One Is Using Its Billions to Buy Back More Equity

Block.one is buying back more equity from early investors. Some – but not the most famous ones – made 6,500 percent on the last buyback.

Jun 6, 2019 at 4:00 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 13, 2021 at 9:17 a.m. UTC

Block.one, the company that built the EOS blockchain, is in the middle of another equity buyback in order to bring on more strategic investors, a source familiar with the matter told CoinDesk.

The company has previously conducted equity buybacks in order to resell those shares to new investors that it sees as helpful to its business, the source explained.

The source declined to provide further details about who would be joining Block.one’s list of backers.

Still, it's helpful to revisit a previous instance of Block.one repurchasing equity from prior investors in order to bring on new ones. A recent report from Bloomberg – which cited a March 19 email to the startup's shareholders – noted that some investors had received a 6,567 percent return on their Block.one holdings.

However, the Bloomberg report may have been unclear about which investors stood to gain so much.

"The buyback was designed for seed investors, who had been in for a long time, and it made room for potential future strategic shareholders in a way that didn't unnecessarily inflate our balance sheet," Brendan Blumer, Block.one's CEO and one of the largest shareholders in the company, told CoinDesk.

"I did not participate," he added.

Citing an email sent to shareholders on March 19, the Bloomberg report emphasizes the involvement of PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, along with noted investors Alan Howard and Louis Bacon.

The source told CoinDesk that Thiel, Bacon and Howard are strategic investors that came on in July 2018, much later than the seed investors. As such, the source said, Thiel, Bacon and Howard saw a 30 percent gain on their investments – a healthy return but nowhere near the 6,567 percent trumpeted in Bloomberg's headline.

Block.one declined to share with CoinDesk the investor email that Bloomberg reviewed. It also declined to give CoinDesk a timeline for its seed investments. Still, the source said Block.one actually goes back several years.

The company’s balance sheet is "stronger than ever," the source told CoinDesk.

Bloomberg reported that the company had $2.2 billion, mostly in U.S. government bonds. The investor letter said it also held 140,000 BTC. If Block.one still holds that much, it would be worth over $1 billion at face value.

On Saturday, the company announced a new social media platform called Voice. The company plans to use its reserves to market the service aggressively to the public.

A spokesperson for Howard declined a request for comment. Bacon and Thiel did not reply to requests for comment.

Peter Thiel image via CoinDesk archives

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