Markets

From $50M bitcoin deals to almost selling for $50M at the market bottom: The story of B2C2

Quick Take

  • The crypto bear market had one trading firm searching for a buyer in recent months
  • B2C2 in 2017 was taking calls for $50 million bitcoin deals
  • But the bear market forced the firm to search for new opportunities, CEO Max Boonen told The Block

B2C2, a UK-based cryptocurrency market-making firm, was doing multi-million dollar bitcoin deals in 2017 but the crypto bear market almost brought it to the chopping block in 2018. 

Sources familiar with the situation told The Block that the firm in recent months was searching for a buyer and laid off a number of employees, including those in business development and sales. It also parted ways with its public-relations firm. The situation for the company, which one source described as “troubled,” is striking considering the firm in 2017 was growing at a breakneck pace. Back then, B2C2 was taking calls for $50 million bitcoin trades.

Last November, it announced three finance veterans were joining its advisory board, including Citigroup’s global head of regulatory, market, and innovation strategy,  At the beginning of 2018, the firm announced it expanded operations internationally with a new office in Japan. The bear market brought challenges throughout 2018 though, and only recently has the tide turned.

Max Boonen, B2C2’s chief executive officer, told The Block things are looking up. “The situation has changed significantly,” he said. Boonen attributed the change to significant algorithm improvements. B2C2 is an outlier among over-the-counter shops in crypto. While most OTC trades are conducted via Skype or Telegram channels, B2C2 handles the vast majority of its trades electronically.

Boonen added the firm is not currently on the market for a buyer. Sources told The Block B2C2 was looking to be bought for as little as $50 million in recent months. 

Boonen explained that October was its best month since March. The former Goldman Sachs employee also confirmed that things were tough earlier this year, saying: “A lot of firms had a lot of problems in the past couple of months. And we did go after a few opportunities but I am not looking to sell at this stage.”

He’s not wrong about the challenging market. Noble Bank, for instance, made headlines in October for its own struggles. The company, which banked for Bitfinex, was looking for a buyer. Elsewhere, crypto exchanges including Coinbase, Kraken, and Coinfloor have all laid off sizable portion of their respective staffs. Underpinning those layoffs has been a decline in volumes for cryptocurrency trading. CoinMarketCap data shows daily trading volumes across the crypto market have fallen from a high of around $80 billion to a paltry $10 billion

As for B2C2, the firm notably saw a number of employees exit the firm, including Nathan Jessop, formerly a vice president with the firm. He left in October. Kevin Beardsley, formerly a managing director there, joined Elwood Asset Management in September from B2C2.  

“Yes, we let some people go, but we also hired new people since then,” Boonen said in an email. 

“I don’t care about crypto,” Boonen, a no-coiner, said. “But we’ve been able to deliver and I am willing to keep going as an owner.”