If the entire bitcoin network was a company, what would it be worth? While there are many ways to interpret the question, one of the easiest is to consider the market capitalization. It’s the same method used for establishing the value of a company. Simply take the current value of the stock (or token) and multiply it by the total number of shares (or tokens). The result is the market cap.
The market cap isn’t exactly a perfect measure of a company’s value — that’s a far more complicated process — but it does provide a fair estimate of what investors believe the company is worth. In that sense, it’s a useful (if imperfect) tool for comparing the total value of a cryptocurrency to the total value of a company.
In this post, we’re going to examine the value of today’s top cryptocurrencies by comparing their overall market caps to those of major companies on the 2019 Fortune 500 list. It’s an imperfect comparison, but it will at least give us some idea about how the greater market views this revolutionary new kind of investment.
BTC $170B = PepsiCo $172B: At the time of this writing, bitcoin accounts for around 64.5% of the total cryptocurrency market. It’s the biggest fish in the crypto pond, but in terms of absolute market value it’s nothing special. Its closest corporate match is PepsiCo, a second-tier global player in the food and beverage industry thanks to brands like Quaker, Frito-Lay, and Pepsi cola.
ETH $22B = Lyft $22B: If there was ever an argument for not using market cap as an indicator of a cryptocurrency network’s value, Ethereum would be the key example. The Ethereum network provides the backbone for hundreds of other tokens (mostly using the ERC-20 standard), even though those tokens only indirectly add value to the ETH token itself. This makes for an interesting comparison to Lyft, as that company’s value comes in part from having access to a network of countless vehicles that Lyft itself doesn’t own.
XRP $13B = Molson Coors Brewing $13B: While XRP may be the thing Ripple Labs is best known for, it’s actually something of a side project for them. Their main business is developing blockchain-related payment systems for banks and other financial institutions. XRP may have a $13 billion market cap, but Ripple Labs’ actual value is far less clear. XRP is currently worth as much as Molson Coors Brewing, the world’s seventh largest brewer by volume.
LTC $5.6B = Harley-Davidson $5.6B: Litecoin occupies a unique niche in the cryptocurrency world, having spent years as the “silver” to bitcoin’s “gold.” During that time, LTC managed to establish itself as a legitimate payment system throughout much of Asia, even though the Litecoin “brand” never really caught on in the West. It’s almost the inverse of the Harley-Davidson motorcycle company, an iconic brand in America that has struggled to gain market share in the rest of the world.
BCH $5.5B = Skechers USA $5.3B: When Bitcoin Cash split off from the main bitcoin blockchain in mid-2017, it was not obvious that the fork would survive the year. Two years later, and BCH is still in the game, often neck-and-neck with LTC for overall market cap. By the same token, it wasn’t obvious that a small skate-shoe brand founded in the 1990s would, by 2019, grow into the third largest athletic footwear brand in the United States.