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When most people think of crypto companies, they usually think of cryptocurrency mining companies, cryptocurrency exchanges, and financial institutions heavily involved in crypto assets. However, a growing number of businesses are widely exposed to crypto without many people realizing it.

One way to find them crypto stocks is by verifying the official holdings of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) specializing in blockchain and crypto. For example, if you take a look at the holdings of the Schwab Crypto Thematic ETF (NYSEMKT: STCE), which was launched in 2022, you can see a number of names that seem out of place at first glance. Three names stand out in particular: MicroStrategy (MSTR 8.39%), (OSTK 5.99%)and AMC Entertainment Holdings (CMA).

1. MicroStrategy

At first glance, MicroStrategy looks like a typical software analytics company. The company provides software solutions to a wide range of financial services, retail, healthcare and technology companies. But what it is best known for is the large amount of Bitcoin (BTC 0.24%) it holds on its balance sheet. As of December 27, MicroStrategy held 132,500 Bitcoins, with a current value of over $2.7 billion. Given that MicroStrategy’s total market cap is just over $2.5 billion, it’s easy to see how buying this company’s stock is really just a proxy for buying of Bitcoin.

Surprised person checking mobile phone in urban street.

Image source: Getty Images.

Additionally, the former CEO (and now Executive Chairman) of the company is none other than Michael Saylor, one of the biggest Bitcoin bulls in the world. On the MicroStrategy website there is an orange Bitcoin button – once you press it you will be taken to a new site with a collection of videos from Saylor extolling the virtues of crypto and Bitcoin.

Saylor publicly predicted Bitcoin price to rise to $500,000, and it positions MicroStrategy to take advantage of this stratospheric new valuation. Until this year, that mainly meant accumulating more and more Bitcoins for the company. But in 2023, the company also plans to increase the number of enterprise software and infrastructure solutions it can provide tied to the Bitcoin Lightning Network, which enables fast, secure, and low-cost Bitcoin payments.

If you thought Overstock was just a discount retailer specializing in furniture and home furnishings, you’d be wrong. When launched during the dot-com boom, made a name for itself as a top e-commerce website where you can buy just about anything at dramatically reduced prices. However, has embarked on a strategic overhaul in recent years that has often focused on blockchain and crypto.

The first step was in 2014 when became the first major e-commerce site to accept Bitcoin. Then, in 2017, became the first major retailer to accept a wide range of altcoins, including Dogecoin (CRYPT: DOGE). Additionally, around the same time, created a wholly-owned subsidiary called Medici Ventures, which invests in blockchain and crypto companies. Past investments have included start-ups specializing in everything from crypto tokens to digital wallets.

3. AMC Entertainment

Finally, there’s AMC Entertainment, which is more than just a movie theater chain these days. Quite simply, the company has realized that the previous generation of entertainment is coming to an end. So what do you do for a reminder when people would rather stream movies at home than go to the local cinema?

The answer, quite simply, is crypto. In 2021, the company announced it would start accepting cryptocurrency as a form of payment for movie tickets. In addition to Bitcoin, AMC Entertainment now accepts Dogecoin and shiba inus (CRYPTO: SHIB) as a method of payment. And the company is also exploring a wide range of other film and movie-related initiatives, including new NFT collections tied to blockbuster movies and possibly even a new crypto token tied to its business operations.

How to value these crypto companies?

Before you think about investing in these stocks just because they are “crypto companies”, just keep in mind how extremely difficult it can be to value these stocks. In the MicroStrategy example, almost all of the company’s valuation is tied to Bitcoin, so it might not seem difficult. But what about and AMC Entertainment, where it is much more difficult to determine how much of future cash flow is attributable to crypto?

For now, the only one of these crypto companies currently on my watch list for 2023 is MicroStrategy, given that its price has skyrocketed 74% since late December. It will be interesting to see how the company plans to bring new Bitcoin Lightning Network solutions to customers, and if this can further the acceptance of Bitcoin as an online payment solution.

When I look at ETF holdings, this is the type of catalyst I would like to see. The next time you’re browsing ETF holdings, look for an interesting company doing unexpected things in a hot niche or industry.

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