ICOs, an intro for the skeptic

There’s been a lot of talk about ICOs (initial coin offerings, named after IPO) in recent weeks, fueled by a number of companies you’ve never heard of raising ridiculous amounts of money. Status, reported to have raised $64MM; Bancor, another $153MM -a record in ICO history-; and a company, at least I’ve heard once or twice before, Kik‘s announcement of an upcoming ICO at the Techcrunch event — all in one week.

According to the ICO aggregator Smith-Crown, more than $290MM has been spent in such token sale transactions over the past two years. Which cumulatively raise suggestions as to ICO may be the new VC.

Regardless these speculations, here you can find compiled a list of some of the most notable ICOs in the recent history. As you’ll see, many of them are fintech ventures, facilitating money transfer and exchange. Some are innovative platforms using blockchain in novel ways; such as file storage, organization management etc. Lastly, there is also a group of me-toos and shady applications; more so with ICOs than venture-capital or angel investing, because the backers can be hidden from the public eye.

Company Description ICO Funding
TokenCard London based fintech venture. Provides a VISA debit card to pay for real-world transactions in ethers. $16.7MM
Humaniq A fintech venture with a noble purpose; it provides a blockchain based mobile banking app for disadvantaged populations in Africa. A cheap ($20) mobile phone for Africa is also in the plans. $5.1MM
Golem Uber for computers; creating a global market for computing cycles. Reminds me of Stanford’s Folding@Home project, but built on blockchain, and reportedly, can help anyone benefit from the excess CPU inventory. $8.6MM
Aragon Lets you create organizations,issue and trade shares electronically on the blockhain.
The blockchain notary method is self-governing, so in some sense, it works like a digital jurisdiction. I find this to be quite interesting, and in line with Ethereum‘s original goals.
OpenLedger A Denmark based blockchain holding company. Owns several blockchain applications, and continues to produce new ones. It looks like a “let’s throw ideas against the wall and let’s see what sticks” type of play. $1.65MM
Augur A prediction markets application built on top of blockchain. In a nutshell, it uses wisdom of crowd to forecast events. It’s hard to see how they will make a dent when traditional prediction markets have failed to make it big. $5.2MM
Xaurum Gold backed cryptocurrency. Not sure how you’d trust without any regulations! $850K
Iconomi There are many exchanges that let you trade bitcoin and USD but this is a Czech one that lets Europeans trade Euros and ethers. $10.5MM

The list goes on and on, with names like Dash, Edgeless, Waves, and more…

If you ever consider to take the ICO route, make sure to have your COO check Coinbase‘s general outline of ICO steps, and take a look at this legal document from Storj (a decentralized cloud storage project) that may set a foundation to your next token sale –never say never–:

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