Circle Upcoming IPO: Stabilizing plans for an IPO

Key Takeaways:
  • Stablecoin issuer Circle confidentially filed its S-1 with the SEC as it eyes an IPO.1

  • Previous plans to go public via a SPAC fell through around a year and a half ago, but Circle's plans differ this time around.2

  • Regulation in the crypto market can be seen both positively and negatively amidst recent developments.


After plans to go public via a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) fell through in late 2022,3 crypto company Circle Financial, is once again generating IPO buzz. In January 2024, Circle — the company behind the second largest stablecoin USDC — announced that it confidentially filed an S-1 with the SEC to go public.4

Circle did not disclose a specific IPO date or share price, but the company said in the press release that the IPO "is expected to take place after the SEC completes its review process, subject to market and other conditions."5

Circle also filed to redomicile from Ireland to the US, which Bloomberg confirmed in May.6 Although Circle did not specify why this change is underway, speculation is that the move is intended to support the company’s plans for an IPO. By redomiciling in the US, Circle will face US regulations and SEC oversight more directly, which could increase transparency and support investor confidence, suggests Cointelegraph.7

Circle: Company Background

Circle is a cryptocurrency and Web3 services company founded in 2013. The company is perhaps best known for its stablecoin USDC, a digital currency that is tied to the US dollar and is intended to always be redeemable for US dollars on a 1:1 basis.8 USDC is the second-largest stablecoin and the sixth-largest cryptocurrency based on market cap, according to CoinMarketCap.9

Circle was co-founded by Jeremy Allaire, who previously founded the online video platform Brightcove. Allaire currently serves as CEO and chairman of the board of directors of Circle. Circle co-founder Sean Neville also previously worked at Brightcove as a software architect. While Neville is no longer an executive at Circle, he remains a member of the board of directors.10

The Details

Regulatory ups and downs

The crypto market got a boost in early 2024 when the SEC approved 11 bitcoin ETFs.11 That helped drive bitcoin to an all-time high in March; it has since dropped but is still up over 125% in the last 12 months.12 In May, the SEC also approved the first ether ETFs in the US, which could also broaden access to this cryptocurrency.13

Circle’s business is connected to these digital tokens, but it differs through its core stablecoin offering. By nature, these stablecoins aren't intended to be speculative as bitcoin and ether can be, but it's feasible that interest in the crypto market overall could support more usage of stablecoins like those offered by Circle.

However, Circle might have to overcome some regulatory hurdles. While the crypto market appears to have had some wins recently, like recent ETF approvals, there continues to be scrutiny over the industry. For example, the SEC is currently in a battle with crypto exchange Coinbase, essentially over whether certain cryptocurrencies should be regulated as securities. Coinbase went public via a direct listing in 2021, rather than an IPO.14 The SEC has also shared concerns about stablecoins and whether Circle is an “investment company” as part of its going-public process. 15

Circle Forge Price Returns

Forge Price™ is a derived data point that reflects the up-to-date price performance of venture-backed, late-stage companies. It is calculated based on a proprietary model incorporating pricing inputs from publicly-available primary funding round information, secondary market transactions, and indications of interest (IOIs) on Forge.

Thus far in Q2, Circle’s Forge Price has not shifted – but over the last year, it has significantly outperformed both the Forge Private Market Index and the FinTech sector more broadly. Circle’s Forge Price shows a 54.2% return over the last year, compared to 6.2% for its sector and 2.0% for the index.

Circle Funding History and Private Market Valuation

So far, Circle has raised $1.14 billion as a private company, with most of its funding coming from its Series E and Series F financing rounds in 2021 and 2022 respectively.16

In the early days, Circle raised $9 million in 2013 for its Series A at a $21.37 million valuation. The company later made a big jump in 2016 for its Series D, raising $64.15 million from investors like Baidu (often considered the Chinese equivalent of Google) at a valuation of nearly $430 million. This funding round also included re-investment from firms like IDG Capital and Breyer Capital. 17

Circle's next primary funding round didn't come until 2021, but this Series E marked an even more significant jump, with the company raising nearly $600 million at a valuation of almost $4 billion, with investments from traditional investors like Fidelity and alternative ones like Digital Currency Group.18

In 2022, Circle raised its Series F which included $401 million from big names like Fidelity and BlackRock, at a price per share of $42.14 and a $8.05 billion post-money valuation.19

Circle has also received investment from Coinbase, which took an undisclosed equity stake in the company in 2023 after the two agreed to disband the jointly launched Centre Consortium, which served as a self-governance consortium for the USDC stablecoin.20

Looking Ahead

Circle has not yet set an IPO date. The fact that its previous attempt at an IPO didn't pan out might give some pause, but Circle’s confidential S-1 filing and redomiciling to the U.S. may be reason for renewed optimism.

Check back here or take a look at Forge’s upcoming IPO calendar to stay in the loop about a possible Circle IPO and other pending public offerings.

If you’re interested in investing in private companies like Circle before they go public, read more about pre-IPO investing or register on Forge Markets today to get started.

FAQ About the Liquid Death IPO

What is Circle?

Circle is a cryptocurrency and digital technology company that is well known for its issuance of stablecoins, such as USDC. The company previously had its hands in other areas of the crypto market, such as operating Circle Invest, a marketplace for buying and selling crypto. Now, however, the company is focused more on stablecoins and Web3 services, like programmable wallets.

Is Circle going public?

Circle is on a path toward potentially going public, having confidentially filed its S-1 with the SEC in January 2024.21 The company is also redomiciling from Ireland to the US, which some think is intended to support an IPO.22

Who are Circle's key investors?

Circle has received investments from a wide range of companies, such as large asset managers like BlackRock, Fidelity, and Goldman Sachs, as well as companies involved in the crypto space like Bitmain Technologies and Coinbase. Key investors also include VC/PE firms like Breyer Capital, IDG Capital, and Digital Currency Group, among others.23

Can anyone invest in Circle?

For now, as a private company, only accredited investors can invest in Circle stock directly. Individual accredited investors may be able to invest in pre-IPO shares of Circle through private market platforms like Forge. If Circle does go public, then generally anyone could invest in the company.

1 Business Wire, 1/11/2024

2 The Defiant, 12/07/2022

3 The Defiant, 12/07/2022

4 Business Wire, 1/11/2024

5 Business Wire, 1/11/2024

6 Bloomberg, 5/14/2024

7 Cointelegraph, 5/15/2024

8 Circle, as of 5/30/2024

9 CoinMarketCap, as of 5/30/2024

10 Circle, as of 5/30/2024

11 AP, 1/11/2024

12 Google Finance as of 6/20/24

13 Wall Street Journal, 5/23/2024

14 CNBC, 4/14/2021

15 Barron’s 6/18/2024

16 Forge Data as of 6/20/24, sourced from publicly available data.

17 Forge Data as of 6/20/24, sourced from publicly available data.

18 Forge Data as of 6/20/24, sourced from publicly available data.

19 Forge Data, as of 5/30/2024

20 Coinbase, 8/21/2023

21 Business Wire, 1/11/2024

22 Cointelegraph, 5/15/2024

23 Forge Data, as of 5/30/2024

About the Author

Jake Safane specializes in financial reporting and is a former thought leadership editor for The Economist with articles appearing in Business Insider and The Washington Post among other media outlets. Mr. Safane has received compensation from Forge Global, Inc. for authoring this article. Read more from Jake.

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