Amid the cryptocurrency mania, several companies have launched initiatives to take advantage of the burgeoning assets, from retailer Overstock.com to photo group Kodak. Some much smaller firms have rebranded themselves completely, adding “bitcoin” or “blockchain” directly to their name. In some cases, the companies’ share prices soared in the US, Germany, and Hong Kong after this crypto-tweak.
For example, Bitcoin Services, formerly known as Tulip BioMed, saw its stock increase by as much as 42,500% last year.
Companies have been changing their names to chase the latest craze for years. In the 1990s, adding “.com” to company names was a popular gambit (pdf). More recently, the US Securities and Exchange Commission warned investors about marijuana-themed investments.
As for Bitcoin Services, the company has in fact gone through several names over the years: Before it was Tulip Biomed, it was Cell Bio-Systems, Direct Music Group, BMX Holdings, and JLL Miami Enterprises. It stands out from the other recently rebranded companies because it changed its name to Bitcoin Services all the way back in 2016, according to OTC Markets, yet its shares didn’t catch fire until last year.
The stock’s ascent started around November, when the bitcoin boom was in full force. However, Bitcoin Services’s financial filings from around that time offer few clues that the company was doing anything specific to justify the hysteria. The same can be said of its website, which generally lacks press releases and other investor information, apart from contact information.
The gains don’t always last. Hong Kong-based UBI Blockchain Internet—previously known as JA Energy—soared more than 20,000% before regulators halted buying and selling. Trading was temporarily suspended on Jan. 5 by the SEC (pdf), which said it had questions about the accuracy of the company’s regulatory filings and “unusual” market activity. The shares were quoted on OTC Markets, home to many so-called “penny stocks,” which typically has lower disclosure requirements than larger platforms like the New York Stock Exchange.
Last year, at least a dozen companies saw their stocks trade in ranges spanning 300% or more, as measured by intraday highs and lows, after changing their names to something that evokes cryptocurrencies or blockchain: