- Some of today’s top crypto projects began with funds raised through initial coin offerings (ICOs).
- EOS was the biggest winner, with over $4.2 billion raised.
- But some ICO projects were then abandoned, and many failed to live up to their hype.
Three years ago, awash with funds from the last, frenzied initial coin offerings (ICOs)—a then-novel method of raising funds, which was popularized by in 2016. bull run, investors poured over $22 billion into
Throughout 2017 and 2018, ICOs enabled hundreds of projects to raise the funds they needed, on their promises to build the infrastructure for a new decentralized, digital future—from large-scale data storage and fairer payments for artists to complex, new financial products.
Ultimately, many failed to live up to their hype—and several ran afoul of the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for conducting unregistered securities sales—but some are now beginning to deliver on their promises. Here’s what happened to the top 10 biggest ICOs.
The DAO was the original example of a Decentralized Autonomous Organization—where open source code provides some form of governance mechanism in lieu of traditional leadership. It was designed to work as a venture funding platform for crypto projects, with funds awarded automatically based on set criteria.
In May 2017, the DAO’s developers launched one of the first ICOs, raising 12.7 million in ETH, Ethereum’s token, which was worth around $150 million at the time. But the project had to be abandoned after a hacker made off with around $50 million of the funds.
The Ethereum community voted to hard fork the network so as to reverse the hack, returning ETH to investors and shuttering the DAO. The decision was controversial, as it violated the immutability of the ledger and blockchain’s “code is law” ethos, but it also did much to raise awareness of both Ethereum and the ICO model.
In June 2017, Zug, Switzerland-based Bancor raised $153 million in just three hours, from investors including Tim Draper and Blockchain Capital. Its ICO was for a platform designed to make it easier for users to launch their own blockchain tokens.
Yet, just two years later, its token BNT had plummeted. Hackers stole $13.5 million worth of tokens from Bancor’s decentralized exchange (DEX) in 2018 and then, in 2019, the platform was forced to bar US-based users due to regulatory uncertainty.
In the same year, an anonymous source told Coindesk that while Bancor had fulfilled the lion’s share of its ICO promises, the bulk of its ICO funds were now invested elsewhere.
In recent months, the DEX has profited from the popularity of , but the BNT token has never regained anything like its all-time high seen in January 2018.
Also based in Switzerland, Sirin Labs raised $158 million in December 2017 on its plans to build the “world’s first” blockchain phone, dubbed Finney, which featured a built-in cryptocurrency wallet, and a token, SRC, to power purchases across the dapp ecosystem.
Sirin made good on its promise, and Finney was launched one year later—but it failed to take off, and in April 2019 the startup laid off 25% of its workforce. Sirin CEO Moshe Hogeg has subsequently faced a string of lawsuits linked to his other business ventures and a $6 million unpaid factory bill for the manufacture of the phones.
The Zug, Switzerland-based Tezos Foundation took in $232m from its July 2017 ICO for a smart contract platform designed to power online digital economies—gaming is just one example.
Tezos’ selling point was its “self-amending” governance, which is meant to head off hard forks such as the one resulting from the DAO (above.) But a class-action lawsuit brought by investors, alleging that the project violated securities laws with its ICO, had dogged Tezos until it was finally settled in September last year, with the Foundation agreeing to pay $25 million in damages to investors.
Today, Tezos is one of the ICO success stories. It’s become a favorite to power the digital Euro, after it the protocol was chosen for the French central bank’s digital currency trials; it’s added features to attract the red hot DeFi industry, and its token XTZ reached an all-time high of $4.39 in August 2020—although it’s since fallen to around $2.50.
However, with more than 60 percent of its reserves held in Bitcoin, Tezos is now likely to be worth well over $1 billion.
Protocol Labs, the company that created Filecoin, raised $257 million in September 2017, with a promise to build a decentralized marketplace for data storage as disruptive to the cloud companies as Airbnb has been in the hotel world.
Filecoin’s tokens are currently 14 times the average price paid during its ICO, it’s been listed on major exchanges, and CEO Juan Benet reported in November that more than an exabyte of storage capacity (over 500 times the data stored in all US research libraries) has now been committed by users in exchange for tokens.
In December 2017, the fifth-biggest ICO was launched by the Hyundai Digital Asset Company, a subsidiary of the Korean car maker, for its HDAC cryptocurrency. It raised $258 million from investors.
HDAC was designed as a blockchain ecosystem to be used with the Internet of Things and other blockchains, but has so far failed to set the world alight; its token is priced at $0.016, having peaked at around $0.106 in June 2018.
But perhaps it’s not time to write this venture off, yet. In March 2020, HDAC launched the first dapp on its mainnet, and, according to Korean news site Chosun, it has plans to launch a blockchain ecosystem of partners to rival the likes of Klatyn, the blockchain platform consortium backed by South Korean messaging app owner Kakao.
At the height of the ICO boom, in March 2018, Macau-based Dragon Inc. launched an ICO for Dragon Coin (DRG), a payments system targeting the South East Asia online casino market. Both retail and institutional investors apparently jumped at the opportunity to invest in what was essentially a gambling token, and stumped up $320 million.
The following month, the New York Times claimed that Cambridge Analytica, a controversial political consulting firm that was involved in influencing hundreds of elections globally, was at the heart of Dragon Coin’s promotion campaign. The article also linked Dragon with Wan Kuok-koi, a notorious Macau gangster, and exposed the project’s well-publicized partnerships, including one with Visa, as shams. Dragon has denied the claims.
Alerted by concerned investors, Thailand’s Crime Suppression Division (CSD) launched an investigation, arresting a Thai actor, Jiratpisit “Boom” Jaravijit, when some of the ICO funds were traced to his bank account. Jaravijit has maintained his innocence, and the case is yet to come to court. The police investigation has also found that funds were used to buy land or cashed out via exchanges.
Two years later, in March 2020, the project’s founders Paul Moynan and Chris Ahmad have apparently branched out into “the fantastic growth market of India,” according to a company blog post. Meanwhile, one DRG, worth $2.34 in 2018, is now only $0.02.
Tatatu raised $575 million from backers including Polymath Capital and BlockTower Capital in June 2018, by marketing itself as a blockchain-based Netflix where viewers were rewarded in TTU tokens for watching movies.
Despite teaming up with Hollywood actor Johnny Depp, the young startup has struggled to list popular films on its platform, and is now more of a social media platform that rewards users when their visual content is liked or shared.
Founder Andrea Iervolino’s movie career doesn’t seem to have suffered from Tatatu’s stumble; since launching Tatatu, the producer has overseen a Lamborghini biopic starring Antonio Banderas and Alec Baldwin, while Waiting For The Barbarians, starring Depp, Robert Pattinson, and Academy Award winner Mark Rylance, was released in 2020.
But cinematic pursuits are unlikely to help TTU. With a set price of $0.25 per token, it’s currently trading at just over $0.01 on the open market. Nevertheless, this month, Tatatu launched a new initiative allowing users to use their tokens to participate in auctions to win new tech.
The network was designed for blockchain-based messaging and payments and generated much excitement and publicity, before it was ultimately poleaxed by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which prohibited its launch in the US in October 2019.
In May 2020, Pavel Durov announced that the team had fought hard to find a solution but that TON would never be launched. The following month, the SEC ordered Telegram to refund $1.2 billion to investors, while levying an $18.5 million fine on the company.
The $4.2 billion in funds that EOS managed to raise in its year-long ICO was more than the three biggest venture funding rounds of 2018 combined (they were Epic Games, Uber and e-cigarette developer Juul).
The project was founded by Block.One chief technology officer Dan Larimer, an early cryptocurrency pioneer, who had already launched a social media network Steemit and the DEX BitShares, as well as other more contentious projects.
It was marketed as an Ethereum competitor and claimed its delegated proof-of-stake platform (dPoS) could handle thousands more transactions per second than Ethereum, and would thus become the epicenter of dapp development.
But the platform has suffered from congestion issues, researchers questioned the project’s claims to be decentralized, and in June 2020, research from VC firm Outlier Ventures suggested a massive exodus of developers from its network.
Then, on December 31, 2020, Larimer resigned as Block.One CTO, leaving the future uncertain and the EOS token tumbling 16%.
Coin Metrics Report Details Surges in ETH, Doge Trading
Coin Metrics: Altcoins Are Taking Over
While bitcoin is still the world’s number one digital currency by market cap (it is currently trading for about $35,000 per unit), the asset has experienced some serious dips over the past month, while by contrast, Dogecoin and Ethereum have exhibited gains and are regularly moving up the digital ladder.
Coin Metrics garnered much of the information for its report by looking at data from Binance, arguably the largest and most popular crypto exchange on the planet in terms of daily trading volume. Additional statistics were gathered from exchanges such as Coinbase and FTX. Coin Metrics points out that thus far, 2021 has been the year for “smaller altcoins,” suggesting that a great many of them have surged heavily between the months of January and early May. From there, however, a serious crypto crash has taken precedence, with Coin Metrics unable to pinpoint what, exactly, might have been the cause.
For the most part, numerous altcoin pairs are offered on Binance, which explains why the company’s trading volume for many of the world’s smaller assets likely overtook that of bitcoin. The report says:
ETH volume surpassed BTC volume on Coinbase by a wider margin than on Binance. Coinbase did not offer Dogecoin trading in May (although they introduced it in early June), so it did not have a Doge rush similar with Binance, but it did have a relatively high amount of volume for some other altcoins, led by MATIC, ADA and Ethereum Classic (ETC)… Continuing the trend, ETH volume edged out BTC on FTX, although not by much, but comparatively, the top altcoins made up a lower percentage of total volume on FTX than on Binance and Coinbase.
Some of the world’s smaller exchanges – such as Huobi – also saw Ethereum and Dogecoin trading surge to levels beyond what people were doing with bitcoin. The report continues to say:
Similar with Binance, DOGE volume surged on Huobi, taking the spot as the third most traded currency by volume.
Bitcoin Hasn’t Been Fully Cut Out Yet
The only place – according to the document – where bitcoin trading appears to remain dominant at the time of writing is the CME in Chicago, Illinois. The company delves in bitcoin futures trading and has recently opened the door to ETH futures, though this is still in its early stages. Coin Metrics writes:
The markets continued to move mostly sideways over the last week. Bitcoin and Ethereum usage both stayed relatively flat, with daily active addresses dropping 2.5 percent and growing by 3.3 percent, respectively. Ethereum daily transaction fees dropped by over 35 percent week over week as gas prices continued to fall, and bitcoin transaction fees followed a similar pattern, dropping by 40.5 percent.
Bitcoin Taproot upgrade finally achieves activation lock-in!
The much-anticipated Bitcoin Taproot upgrade passed the Speedy Trial, which was a signaling period which gauged support for the upgrade from bitcoin’s mining sector. Since SegWit, Taproot has been touted as the next significant upgrade for Bitcoin.
Data from Taproot.watch, a webpage created by Bitcoin developer Hampus Sjöberg, released an interesting yet hilarious video to announce the completion of the lock-in stage.
— Hampus Sjöberg 🥕🟩 (@hampus_s) June 12, 2021
On the official page, it read:
“This period has reached 1815 Taproot signaling blocks, which are required for lock-in.”
Different mining pools tweeted their support for the upgrade on their respective platforms with Slush Pool being the first to do so.
TAPROOT LOCKED IN AT BLOCK 687285 BY SLUSHPOOL 🟩 pic.twitter.com/FFDdibtmGt
— pourteaux (@pourteaux) June 12, 2021
AntPool also supported the upgrade.
“As of block 687284, Taproot signalling has reached 1815 blocks this period, guaranteeing that absent very deep reorgs, it is guaranteed to lock in. Following that, it will activate at block 709632, probably around mid-November 2021.”
He also addressed that ‘there is a lot of work left of course’, which included:
a) PSBT extensions to communicate Taproot keys/scripts/signatures,
b) MuSig2 standardization so the software can cooperate in signing,
c) Output descriptors,
Why is it so important?
“With this upgrade, you’ll see Bitcoin to be the settlement network. Funds are transferred from one institution to another, say one bank to another.”
“The update would lower the data size of smart contracts, in turn lowering transaction costs. Taproot is also expected to enhance smart contract functionality and efficiency.”
Jeremy Rubin, a Bitcoin Core contributor and founder of Judica projected a similar optimistic narrative,
“With taproot, you get optimization of Bitcoin, much different from how people know Bitcoin today- little too inefficient or reveal too much information about what you’re trying to do. Taproot helps to be private and efficient.”
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Next-Gen Decentralized NFT Platform, NEFTiPEDIA Announces Launch of its ICO In 3 Days
NEFTiPEDIA, a next-generation decentralized NFT platform that operates in a way that contributes to the elevation of digital artists, creators, and investors has announced the launch of its ICO which is set to happen in 3 days.
NEFTiPEDIA has designed a commission-free platform to enable its artists to maximize income, following its aim to help them increase revenue via NFTs.
Following NEFTiPEDIA’s plans to storm the marketplace while launching its ICO, it aims to serve the marketplace with different categories of products including cosmetics, vehicles and property.
“….we believe NEFTiPEDiA will become a community-run marketplace and the industry will make our project as a kind and remarkable one in the world,” the announcement reads.
The development will see the platform provide a decentralized marketplace for Artists, where they can sell and validate their NFT links to fans and interested buyers.
NEFTiPEDIA Offers Exciting Prizes to Users
The team behind the project have allotted a total of 250,000,000 $NFT tokens for its users to enjoy in the upcoming ICO.
To further celebrate the intended development, the platform has proposed a referral scheme where winners can enjoy amazing and exciting prices.
Users who wish to participate in the program are required to sign up for the platform’s ICO panel and get a referral code.
The code can as well be shared with friends, giving users the opportunity to win exciting prizes.
A minimum of 5 referrals is required for participants to be considered for winning.
“Only those referrals ended in purchase will be added to the count. After the completion of ICO in 30 days, winners will be announced. Notably, winners will bear all the applicable tax.” The team further elaborated on the conditions for winning.
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