Riot Blockchain, Inc.

Originally a veterinary life sciences firm and then a drug development start-up, before announcing its surprising rebrand as Riot Blockchain in 2017, it's fair to say Riot Blockchain, Inc. has been through some major changes.

The circuitous route to Riot Blockchain’s current form begins with small life sciences start-ups Venaxis and Aspen Biopharma. Under various names, the company which became Riot Blockchain was originally involved in veterinary medicine. An early venture in developing an appendicitis test was dashed by regulatory disapproval, and in 2016 the company acquired drug development start-up BiOptix, adopting this as their new name. This new business plan was followed only for a few months before incoming CEO Michael Beeghley announced the company would relocate to Nevada, where it could take advantage of tax breaks for blockchain users. Finally, it adopted the name Riot Blockchain.

Amid the hysterical investment environment surrounding cryptocurrencies in 2017, Riot Blockchain’s shares surged nearly 1,000% between September and December of that year. However, Riot Blockchain soon found itself subject to an SEC investigation for adopting the name without any clear business link to blockchain technology. Long-term investors met the change with bemusement, but the new name was a hit with retail investors.

Initially unclear about the company’s purpose, it soon became clear Beeghley intended for Riot Blockchain to mine bitcoin in the US. When the price of bitcoin collapsed in 2018, shares in Riot Blockchain plummeted in tandem. By the end of 2019, they had lost 97% of their value from the 2017 peak. Bitcoin rallied in 2020, and Riot Blockchain has continued to expand its mining capabilities, narrowing its losses, though without seeing any profitability. Riot Blockchain has been the target of aggressive speculative trading, to the point that the average investment hold time (the time investors keep their shares for) was only two days in early 2021.

The publicly traded history of Riot Blockchain trails back to a company called Aspen Biopharma, which traded on the NASDAQ exchange before changing its name to Venaxis, then BiOptix. As of 2021, the company is headquartered in Castle Rock, Colorado, and it has a market capitalization of $4.19 billion. However, considering the massive volatility of the stock, it is unsurprising that institutional investors hold a relatively small portion of shares. Among them, BlackRock and Vanguard have significant holdings, as do several ‘event focused’ hedge funds and smaller investment management firms.

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Frequently asked questions about Riot Blockchain, Inc.

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