This question has been bothering me for a while now. In fact, some early ICOs (Ethereum, for example) were real breakthrough products which changed the course of history. They really needed to pull in $10 million dollars for their own development.
Today, though, I couldn’t name a single ICO that’s capable of justifying itself. People often say to me things like ‘we’ve got a really great team, a realistic project idea, and industry experience (these are all pretty rare, of course)…. so what makes us worse than those other guys? Has the ICO market suddenly turned toxic?’
It used to be that I’d have no answer for them… just a gut feeling that things were somehow not quite right. But recently I came up with an allegory which explains the whole thing beautifully.
In ancient days, it came to pass that in the Thirtieth Realm there was war. The foe descended, burnt down the houses, carried off the booty, and demanded heavy tribute from the people. A leader arose, who was able to organise the resistance, recruit freedom-fighters and form them into a worthwhile army – he repelled the occupiers, took revenge on them, and recaptured the booty they had taken.
But the enemy had allies, who tried to mount a counteract. However, the army of the Thirtieth Realm had grown still further, and threatened the attackers tirelessly. Then there came a moment when our new leader began to feel he was invincible – for no cause whatsoever he launched assaults on neighbouring peoples, simply for the looting to be had. To keep up with its growing appetite, the army needed more and more troops – not that they were needed to protect the homeland, of course, but to carry off more spoils. Soon the battles themselves were no more than symbolic, and had degenerated into simple raids – the so-called army was little more than a crew of cut-throats.
The day came, when this brigand army descended on a tiny, yet fiercely proud nation, which decided to resist to the death…
But wait… how’s all this connected to ICOs, I hear you asking? Allow me to explain. The thing is, that the first ICOs got their money from people with ideals, who really wanted to make a success of the project, and spread information about it around (well, about Bitcoin – only Satoshi never issued an ICO). So they began investing in the next ICO, without getting quite so deeply into its nuances. Today people are investing solely for the purpose of speculating, and get out of the ICO as soon as they’ve made a profit. In fact they’ve started to resemble info-distributors for MMM, the notorious Russian financial ponzi swindle – selling coins on personal recommendations. They are idealists no longer.
Projects which take this kind of ‘investor’ on board begin to resemble the army of cut-throats – who retreat at the first opportunity, and never achieve their goal (if, of course, there was ever any other kind of goal than raising cash with an ICO 😊)
A more serious-minded investor, who gets into an ICO for its inflated valuation, is a rare professional trooper amid a band of brigands.
Illustration by Katerina Krashtapuk