Employees at cryptocurrency news publication CoinDesk were told Tuesday that the firm is moving into office space in the same building as its parent company, Digital Currency Group (DCG), a transition that will take place in March 2020.
In an email sent to employees, his first ever to CoinDesk’s entire staff, DCG founder and CEO Barry Silbert outlined four reasons for the move, vowing that while seeking to create new business synergies with the media company, one of three wholly-owned subsidiaries, the parent would continue to respect and strengthen the editorial independence of the publication, founded in 2013.
The other two subsidiaries, Grayscale Investments and Genesis Trading, work out of the DCG office building in Manhattan.
“We will build a state-of-the-art office,” Silbert wrote. “Essentially, the only teams we won’t meet with are the editorial staff and the content professionals who build the event agendas.”
“We are 100 percent committed to preserving that independence,” he continued.
The lease was signed Tuesday. A representative of the building’s owner, the Feil Organization, had previously indicated it expected a deal on the office to close this week.
In his email to employees, Silbert specified that CoinDesk’s new offices would be on a separate floor of the building from DCG. The 9,000 square foot space was formerly used by Luminary Media, a podcast streaming platform. CoinDesk has to date operated out of WeWork offices, all in Manhattan.
Still, Silbert was clear that there had been a material change in the dynamic between the two companies, adding:
“We are committed to investing significant resources into CoinDesk so that we can retain our talent, hire new voices, build great new products, continue to host high-end conferences and continue to produce the best journalism in the industry. But there should be no doubt in anyone’s minds about our view on supporting an influential, truly independent newsroom.”
He said: “I absolutely believe having CoinDesk in the same building is a critical step for the sustained growth of DCG and CoinDesk.”
A representative for DCG specified that he expects the offices to have their own security passes, which would restrict which floors employees of each company can access.
The decision follows a weeks-long period of opposition from some employees of CoinDesk.
Concerns about the move and its impact on CoinDesk’s ability to operate as an independent publication had been expressed directly to the company’s leadership in two signed emails as well as a face-to-face meeting last month.
The move is seen as a break from the historical geographic separation between the two firms, as outlined by CoinDesk’s Editorial Policy, which reads: “We work in separate offices and maintain strict policies on editorial independence and transparency.”
CoinDesk has maintained offices in a separate building from DCG ever since the industry investment firm, which has stakes in more than 145 crypto and blockchain-focused startups, acquired CoinDesk in late 2015 from founder and angel investor Shakil Khan. The firm was subsequently run by CoinDesk Managing Director Ryan Selkis, formerly director of growth at DCG.
He was later succeeded by Kevin Worth, CoinDesk’s CEO.
A preliminary decision to approve the move announced Tuesday was reached on Aug. 14 between Worth and members of DCG.
News of that decision quickly spawned an internal meeting on Aug. 26 at which Worth took questions from CoinDesk staff about the proposed decision. At the time, Worth said he had “temporarily paused” the office move, pending a discussion of concerns.
At the meeting, both New York-based and international employees voiced their worries that the move could harm CoinDesk’s reputation.
Staffers outlined the potential risk posed to the company in a follow-up letter addressed to Worth, which stated:
“These costs include the possible reputational damage to CoinDesk, a deterioration of reader trust and an opening for competitors to undermine our standing as the industry’s leading news provider. The move would also make it harder for us to recruit and retain top talent, and it would make it more difficult to work with diverse sources across the industry, who may not want to attend a meeting in the same building as DCG.”
Twenty-nine of CoinDesk’s roughly 50 employees signed the email.
In response to that letter, Worth said there was “no specific timeframe” for the decision. “We’ll have a chance to talk again at the all hands on Sept. 17,” he said in an email.
On Tuesday, Worth sought to position the finalized move as one that’s in the best interest of the company, telling CoinDesk:
“CoinDesk will continue to produce the finest independent journalism in the industry. In preparation for the office move in 2020, earlier today I asked some of our editorial colleagues to form a committee that will recommend specific principles and controls to maintain the complete editorial independence of CoinDesk. I look forward to receiving those recommendations.”
DCG CEO Barry Silbert image via CoinDesk archives