The said call was to discuss ICE’s financial results for Q4 and the full year of 2018. Sprecher revealed in the call that the firm has spent over $1 billion on strategic initiatives, which includes the launch of the digital asset platform. ICE operates 23 leading global exchanges, along with the New York Stock Exchange.
Scott Hill, ICE’s CFO, further elaborated about the expenses Bakkt is about to bring, based on its current financial performance:
“And finally, our investment in Bakkt will generate $20 million to $25 million of expense based upon the run rate in the first quarter. We will update you on progress at Bakkt and the level of investment as we move through the year.”
Upon the question about expected returns or revenue growth from recent investments, including Bakkt, the CEO called the crypto platform as a “moonshot bet” for ICE:
“So it’s a bit of a moonshot bet and it’s been organized in a manner that is very different than the way ICE typically does businesses […] They’re well along in building out an infrastructure that I think you’ll see launch later this year.”
Sprecher further explains that Bakkt is like an independent entity for ICE as the platform has its own offices, management team, and infrastructure. He went on to reveal that the infrastructure of the project has already intrigued and invited a number of high-profile investors and partners, including Starbucks and Microsoft.
As for the CFO, he asserted that Bakkt is a long-term project for the firm rather than a 2019-focused agenda. Hill said:
“I think Bakkt is really an investment […] That’s more about the future and revenue and market opportunities that we see in the future and less about 2019 topline.”
ICE first announced about their venture in August 2018, since than Bakkt has been gaining a lot of tractions. The platform was scheduled to launch early 2019 but was delayed due to the ongoing consultations with the United States Commodity Futures and Trading Commission.