The Nasdaq stock exchange has notified New Jersey-based Long Blockchain, Inc. that it would delist the stock because the company’s market capitalization was too low. Long Blockchain was formerly known as Long Island Iced Tea, but changed its name last December and announced it would diversify from beverages into cryptocurrency.
The company disclosed the notice in an SEC filing last Thursday, and said it would appeal the decision by February 22nd. To remain listed long-term, the company’s value would have to remain above $35 million for at least 10 days. It has been below that value almost every day since January 26th.
Long Blockchain’s total market cap nearly doubled, to as much as $67.4 million, immediately after its pivot announcement. But that announcement came just before the historic 2017 bull market for cryptocurrency came to an end, and the company’s stock has slumped since.
Worse, Long Blockchain’s pivot has appeared rocky so far—and that’s putting it gently. The company announced in early January that it would spend as much as $4.2 million to buy cryptocurrency mining servers to be operated by a third party. Mining is a high-risk and relatively unexciting proposition compared to, say, building a useful cryptocurrency service, and just a few days later, Long Blockchain abandoned plans to sell stock to finance the purchase. A few weeks later it abandoned the mining proposal entirely.
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Coindesk reports a possible explanation for the seemingly rushed pivot: Long Island Iced Tea had already been threatened with delisting once, in October of 2017. Adding ‘blockchain’ to its name seems to have bought it some breathing room by juicing its stock.
Though small, Long Blockchain is symbolic of a broader trend. Other struggling companies, including Kodak and Atari, have also tried to mine some mojo from cryptocurrency in recent months, but have been met with skepticism by experts. In Kodak’s case, one analyst roasted the company’s plan as “nonsensical,” and shared pictures of a ramshackle building listed as the headquarters of a project partner.
Long Blockchain’s forward path now appears to hinge on a merger with an obscure U.K. blockchain startup called Stater Blockchain Limited, which is focused on building financial services. It’s unclear, though, just what Long Blockchain would bring to the table, especially if it loses its Nasdaq listing, which at least might have been useful to get Stater a stock market presence through a reverse takeover.
There is one other possibility. Long Blockchain said back in December that it would continue making bottled tea as it diversified into Bitcoin, and if its Bitcoin plans fizzle, it might fall back on that specialty. One pointer: despite a legendarily boozy brand name, the Long Island Iced Tea product line doesn’t include any alcoholic drinks.
Maybe give that a shot?