Cryptomining operator Core Scientific going public via SPAC

July 21, 2021

Cryptocurrency mining operator Core Scientific said Wednesday it is listing on the Nasdaq through a merger with Power & Digital Infrastructure Acquisition Corp.

The deal with the special purpose acquisition company values Core Scientific at roughly $4.3 billion.

It's not clear when trading will begin. The ticker name was not announced.

Core, which has operations in North Dakota, North Carolina, Georgia, and Kentucky, is one of the largest providers of blockchain infrastructure and hosting, as well as one of the largest digital asset miners, in North America.

Rival bitcoin miners Riot Blockchain and Marathon Digital have market capitalizations of $2.18 billion and $2.25 billion, respectively.

Core's "blockchain infrastructure business is unparalleled, backed by more than 70 blockchain and infrastructure-related patents and applications," said Darin Feinstein, co-founder and co-chairman.

Bitcoin has had a wild year, peaking at more than $63,000 before crashing to a current value of around $31,500, but it's still up more than 245% from a year ago. SPACs of bitcoin mining companies are another way to bet on the crypto craze with a slightly longer-term time horizon than speculating on the currencies themselves.

Core, which primarily mints bitcoin, says it generated $60 million in revenue in 2020 and anticipates $493 million this year. The company declined to disclose net income or loss.

So far in 2021, Core has minted more than 3,000 bitcoin, including 1,683 for its own account, co-chairman and CEO Mike Levitt said in an interview. During that same time period, Marathon's mining fleet produced approximately 846 bitcoin and Riot produced a total of 1,167.

Core is adding capacity at its existing sites and is looking to build more facilities in potentially one to two more states. It operates about 80,000 rigs, and by the end of 2022, will be operating well in excess of 300,000 miners, according to Levitt. 

"We're all sold out. Every bit of infrastructure we can build — and we're the biggest — we have demand for," Levitt said. "We're basically sold out of capacity through 2022, and we're building more." 

Levitt, who invested in data centers in the 1990s during his private equity days, said Core's business model is a lot more than building massive warehouses with a bunch of computers that sit running 24/7.

One project is called "What to Mine." The AI-powered program developed by Core optimizes mining across the various bitcoin derivatives in order to reap the greatest return in that moment in time in the network.

Core plans to funnel $300 million of net cash proceeds back into the company in order to fund growth.

Critics say cryptocurrency has a negative impact on the environment because of its massive use of energy. It is a concern that Core has prioritized since its launch. The company runs a 100% net carbon-neutral business, with 56% of its electricity coming from sustainable sources, including solar, wind, hydro and nuclear. The company buys carbon credits to offset the rest.