Long Blockchain, known until December 2017 as the Long Island Iced Tea Corporation, will sell its beverage subsidiary to ECC Ventures 2 Corp., an investment holding company, which signed a letter of intent Wednesday.
As reported by Newsday, Long Blockchain will receive $500,000 Canadian dollars and 9.2 million units of ECC stock. That stock will be issued after a restructuring, so its value is unclear. But ECC itself, according to Canadian filings, was founded in January of 2018 and has assets of less than $5 million. ECC’s current stock structure has less than 4 million shares outstanding, and they trade at less than 20 cents per share. Historical price data on Long Blockchain stock is also hard to dig up (for reasons that will become clear), but suffice it to say this doesn’t look like a particularly rich deal from any angle.
How did we get here, and why should you care? Read on, crypto-history buffs! (Or you could watch this loop of Bart Simpson falling down stairs for ten hours. Same difference.)
The Long Blockchain story bears depressing parallels to the phenomenon of celebrity plastic surgery disasters. Much like the fading stars most likely fall into that trap, Long Island Iced Tea Company was facing twilight after being threatened with a stock delisting in October 2017. The beverage business might have been struggling because, despite the booze-soaked connotations of its name, it sold-non alcoholic teas. That’s the level of talent we’re dealing with here.
So it’s not much of a surprise that, when a crypto-facelift beckoned, Long Island Iced Tea went full Carrot Top. In December 2017, with the crypto-bubble swollen like an engorged tick, the company announced it would pivot to cryptocurrency and change its name to Long Blockchain. Without any notable partnerships, achievements, prior experience, or even a particularly compelling plan, the bumbling operation scored a 500% stock surge, putting off the prior delisting threat by propping up its total market cap.
And then, the freshly remade Long Blockchain tripped through a series of hilarious fuckups. Most predictably, their vague, ill-conceived blockchain plans came to little, and by February 2018 the company announced it wouldn’t actually be buying 1,000 Antminer S9 mining rigs, partly since by then the price of bitcoin had dropped by half from its December peak.
The company’s collagen-injected stock pump wore off, and by February it was once again facing delisting from NASDAQ. The exchange even explicitly argued that Long Blockchain had sought to “mislead investors” with its vaporous pivot. The delisting became official in April, but Long Blockchain said it would remain a public company and let its stock trade over the counter (OTC), roughly the equivalent of a washed-up actor filming high-concept home movies.
Little did we know, the fun had barely begun.
In April, the company delayed filing its annual report, but made a preliminary declaration that it had lost nearly $15 million in 2017, larger than its $10 million loss in 2016, confirming that this was a failing company before blockchain caught its eye. In July, the company named a new CEO—its third in seven months—and spun up a subsidiary to focus on blockchain applications in corporate loyalty programs.
Then, in August 2018, Long Blockchain truly gained its blockchain wings: it was hit with an SEC subpoena. Many speculated the investigation was related to the company’s name change, which no less a figure than SEC Chairman Jay Clayton appeared to have alluded to as a possible target of SEC attention back in January 2018.
By the time of the SEC subpoena, according to Bloomberg, the company’s market cap had sunk to a frankly pitiful $5 million. It’s like it went in for pec implants and wound up with a radical circumcision.
The Long Blockchain saga/comedy routine/morality play isn’t over. But the lessons are already obvious: stock traders can be as gullible as crypto speculators; operators eager to cash in on hype are also usually inept screwups; and if you’re gonna sell something called Long Island Iced Tea, PUT SOME GODDAMN LIQUOR IN IT YOU MONSTERS.