In December 2017, the amount raised in ICOs nearly equaled the amount raised by Series A investments globally. The technology innovation catalyzed by Bitcoin and Blockchain is creating many multibillion dollar economies quickly. The ICO market today bears many similarities to the dotcom era. Startups can raise hundreds of millions of dollars on an idea. Twenty years ago, the idea had to be sketched on a napkin. Today, the protocol must be detailed in a white paper.
There’s a parallel between cryptoassets today and the British colonial period predating the US. In the late-1600s, colonies began to print their own money. Today, we’re seeing many startups coin their own money, creating an explosion in the number of new (crypto)currencies.
States printed colonial money to pay debts to citizens. During tax collection times, the state accepted citizens’ bills as payment and retired the bills from circulation. Citizens would pay each other with these bills.
Initial Coin Offerings, a fundraising mechanism for companies using cryptocurrencies as a mechanism to buy their service, seem to be upending the world of venture capital. Filecoin raised $250M through an ICO. Tezos raised $232M. Bancor raised $153M. These are massive amounts of money. Recently, I’ve been wondering how prevalent ICOs are and whether they could potentially be a substitute for venture capital.
The chart above shows the number and size of ICOs since the beginning of this year.