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24 March 2023
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Coinbase Purchased Neutrino for $13.5 M, Acquisition Contract Shows

Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase purchased controversial Italian software services provider Neutrino for $13.5 million (€12 million), a copy of a legal document dated February 15, 2019, and shared with Bitcoin Magazine reveals. The hard numbers of the acquisition were previously unknown.

The document leak comes after a week of turbulent developments following the February 19 acquisition. Community members, namely Block Digest podcast member Janine, began to raise ethical concerns stemming from the company’s shared past with Hacking Team, an Italian, man-in-the-middle software provider whose malware and spyware has been linked to human rights and privacy abuses around the globe.

This revelation invoked strong reactions among some community members, eventually manifesting in the #DeleteCoinbase movement. Coinbase ultimately buckled under the mounting pressure, announcing that it would be parting ways with Neutrino staff with ties to Hacking Team. Per the deal, Neutrino would “continue to operate as a standalone business based out of [Coinbase’s] London office,” meaning CRO Marco Valleri, CTO Alberto Ornaghi and CEO Giancarlo Russo were originally slated to stay on as executives until the severance.

Marco Valleri and Alberto Ornaghi were both founders of Hacking Team, and Neutrino’s CEO, Giancarlo Russo, joined Hacking Team in 2004 as COO. At their new company, each executive held 22 percent of its shares — in capital allocation, $5,650 each (€5,000). The other 33 percent of shares, valued at $8,500 (€7,500), was held by 360 Capital, a French-Italian venture capital firm registered in Paris which invested $565,000 (€500,000) in the project in April 2017.

The document says that Coinbase agreed to purchase “the units of the respective total ownership representing the entire share capital of the Company.” Proportional to their shares in Neutrino, from the acquisition, Ornaghi, Russo and Valleri will each receive $2,951,792.91 (€2,608,916.11), while 360 Capital will receive $4,993,401.86 (€4,413,374.16). On the day the contract was signed, the acquisition’s notary paid each executive $487,045 (€430,471) and 360 Capital $4,055,107 (€3,584,071). The remaining $8,332,534 (€7,364,637) was transferred to a Credit Suisse trust account associated with the company, though it’s unclear how or when the remaining capital will be disbursed to the former shareholders.

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