Binance just bought the top of the funnel.
The largest cryptocurrency exchange by market volume has acquired popular data site CoinMarketCap (CMC) for an undisclosed price, the companies announced Thursday. Binance CEO Changpeng “CZ” Zhao told CoinDesk the deal closed March 31, although a verbal agreement had been reached “a few months ago.”
With its extensive (although often questionable) data on prices, volumes and other metrics for 5,290 cryptocurrencies, CMC has served as a dragnet for retail investors since its launch in 2013.
“It’s a really good website and I think we can help grow it further,” Zhao said in an interview with CoinDesk Thursday, adding he had no immediate plans for CMC. Zhao said the domain will remain independent from Binance under a holding company, perhaps staving off concerns over potential conflicts of interest.
Industry veterans told CoinDesk they see a future where CMC could serve as a marketing channel for Binance, steering prospective customers toward the exchange. Zhao, on the other hand, characterized it as a simple, albeit large, purchase of a cash-flow positive asset.
“It’s by far the largest we have done so far,” he said of the deal.
The acquisition shows that while many firms looked to institutional players as crypto’s messiah in 2019 and even today, Zhao is pinning his hopes on a mass audience of individual investors after buying the most heavily trafficked website in the space.
Amazon’s Alexa ranks CMC as the 570th most visited website globally in the last 90 days. That’s compared to Binance and rival exchange Coinbase at 1,688 and 1,562, respectively. The next closest data provider is CoinGecko at 7,350.
Zhao’s purchase also caps CMC’s journey, from a scrappy outfit run out of founder Brandon Chez’s apartment to a property coveted by an industry leader. In fact, Zhao said he had pursued Chez for years. With the sale, Chez is stepping down.
“CMC was not for sale,” CMC interim CEO Carylyne Chan…