Last month we covered the story of the Long Island Iced Tea Company rebranding itself as Long Blockchain as part of a broader shift in corporate strategy. The company’s stock price tripled overnight.
On Friday, we got the first concrete details of the company’s new blockchain strategy. Long Blockchain planned to raise up to $8.4 million with a stock offering and then use some of the money to buy 1,000 Antminer S9 bitcoin mining machines. The machines would be “installed in a world-class third-party data center experienced in cryptocurrency mining and located in a Nordic country.”
But today Long Blockchain announced it was scrapping the stock offering. The company says that it’s still planning to buy bitcoin-mining hardware. However, Long Blockchain says that it “can make no assurances that it will be able to finance the purchase of the mining equipment.”
Where the company might get the money to buy the mining equipment is unclear. Antminer S9 mining hardware lists for upwards of $5,000, so it would cost millions of dollars to get 1,000 units. Long Blockchain’s most recent financial disclosure shows the company with only $429,000 in cash on hand in September.
The company’s press release didn’t explain the sudden turnaround, but it seems the stock market wasn’t thrilled by the plan to sell new shares. Long Blockchain’s stock price fell on Friday, the day the plan was announced, then soared this morning when the plan was scrapped. The stock is still worth more than double its value before the blockchain pivot was announced last month.
The broader question is why it makes sense for a beverage company to get into the blockchain business in the first place. In principle, you could imagine the company looking for ways to use blockchains to improve its core business—by optimizing supply chain management, for example.
Instead, Long Blockchain has chosen to jump straight into the deep end with a bitcoin-mining business. The danger is that the company will find itself in over its head.