Coinbase is hitting back at crypto haters

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 14: Monitors display Coinbase signage during the company's initial public offering (IPO) at the Nasdaq market site April 14, 2021 in New York City. Coinbase Global Inc. is the largest U.S. cryptocurrency exchange, debuting today through a rare direct listing. (Photo by Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images)

Coinbase just celebrated its 10th birthday. And the crypto powerhouse marked the milestone on a defiant note, with a snarky TV ad clapping back at crypto bashers.

“Crypto is dead. Long live crypto,” said the 30-second ad which aired Friday during the NBA Western Conference finals game between the Golden State Warriors and the Dallas Mavericks.

The ad showed tweets dating back to 2012, with the authors’ names blurred out, declaring “Crypto is dead.”

At a time when crypto is reeling from a severe downturn and Coinbase is making spending cutbacks, the reactions were understandably mixed.

Michael Fasanello, chief compliance officer of LVL, called the ad “classic and minimalist, yet effective.”

“It drives home the message that just like so many other emerging technologies and emerging markets, blockchain and crypto will have their ups and downs — but they are here to stay,” he told Protocol.

Jef Loeb, creative director at Brainchild Creative, agreed it was “effective if the objective is to let the market know Coinbase isn’t heading for the life rafts quite yet.”

“It’s also effective in preaching to an increasingly small choir not to abandon the Titanic quite yet,” he told Protocol, quipping, “Hey, the sopranos and altos may have headed for the exits, but the bros in the bass [section] are hanging in.”

Coinbase recently included a warning in its regulatory filings that in a bankruptcy scenario, customers’ crypto holdings were at risk. Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong hastened to reassure customers that it wasn’t actually facing bankruptcy.

Loeb noted the dramatic shift in tone in the ad from the “celebrity-driven ‘don’t miss out’ [messages] in February’s Super Bowl” from other crypto companies “to a spin on Mark Twain’s aphorism four months later” about how ““reports of crypto’s death are both frequent and exaggerated.” Coinbase’s Super Bowl ad featured a floating QR code which succeeded in bringing so many people to its website that it crashed.

The choice of the Warriors game was symbolic. Former Warriors player Kevin Durant invested in Coinbase, and Coinbase and the NBA struck the league’s first cryptocurrency sponsorship deal last year, in flusher times.

The crypto exchange posted disappointing results recently amid the sharp slump in crypto prices epitomized by the UST stablecoin meltdown. In a sign of growing uncertainty, Coinbase also announced that it was freezing hiring and cutting back on other spending a week after declaring that it was pushing forward with expansion plans.

The crypto market has shed roughly $1 trillion in value the past month, while Coinbase shares have tanked more than 50%.