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Original research, analysis and reports across the frontier of cryptoeconomics, blockchain technology, and digital assets.
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Analysis

October 11, 2019

Analysis

October 4, 2019

Analysis

September 26, 2019

Analysis

September 19, 2019

Update

September 12, 2019

Cryptoasset Report

September 5, 2019

Update

August 23, 2019

Report

August 2, 2019

Cryptoasset Report

May 23, 2019

Cryptoasset Report

May 9, 2019

Cryptoasset Report

April 25, 2019

Cryptoasset Report

March 1, 2019

Quarterly Report

February 26, 2019

Cryptoasset Report

December 20, 2018

Cryptoasset Report

December 18, 2018

Quarterly Report

August 20, 2018

Analysis

June 6, 2018

Analysis

April 4, 2018

Token-based fundraising

March 6, 2018

Analysis

March 2, 2018

Token-based fundraising

February 12, 2018

Token-based fundraising

February 4, 2018

Token Sales

December 29, 2017

Introduction

August 2, 2016

Introduction

July 13, 2016

Education

July 4, 2016

Introduction

June 21, 2016

Introduction

June 14, 2016

Introduction

June 7, 2016

Introduction

March 24, 2016

Introduction

March 17, 2016

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Analysis

December 1, 2016

ICOs and crowdsales: Over $270 million raised and counting

The blockchain sector has raised over $270 million through ICOs and crowdsales since 2013, and more projects launch every week.

ICOs and crowdsales aren't new

Crowdfunding activity has certainly picked up in 2016, but it had a rich history before The DAO crowdsale made headlines around the world by raising over $130 million. In 2014, Ethereum, promising to bring a turing-complete language to the blockchain, raised over $15 million (in BTC) through an ICO-like fundraising period. In 2013, Mastercoin (now Omni) raised over $600,000 following protracted discussion of how to build a protocol layer on top of the Bitcoin blockchain.

Below is a graph of all major ICOs about which Smith + Crown has gathered data. Individual ICOs and crowdsales are represented as vertical red lines, while the total amount raised each year is represented as a blue bar. The DAO is highlighted specifically because it was an outlier and because all funds were returned--it represents the intent to fund but much of that funding was likely recycled to other projects.

ICO-Funding-2013-onward.jpg

It shows that ICO activity has been increasing, with particular surges in activity over the past year. Even without The DAO’s outlier contribution to total fund raising, 2016 has seen more ICO investments than all other years combined. Given that we filtered out many ICOs that failed to raise $50,000, this understates the total amount of money flowing to these projects. We've also included projects that turned out to be scams, like deClouds, because funds were invested and never returned.

Funds raised aren’t the whole picture for cryptocurrency investment--and in some cases, aren’t even an accurate picture. Not all ICOs have a single public blockchain address that provides an auditable digital trail--some use multiple addresses or generate new addresses for each participant. Moreover, the total amount of funds raised isn’t necessarily all outside investment--project founders could recycle all of their own BTC or even get friends to participate, all the while returning funds after the sale is over. There is no auditing of project spending after funds have been raised.

ICOs and crowdsales are new, and they don't yet show any sign of going away. A major market slowdown, as happened in 2015, could broadly dampen enthusiasm for new projects and investment, but it's not clear yet whether the bubble is ready to burst--or whether it's really a bubble at all.