Pink Taxis, Red Flags: A Deep Dive Into a Sketchy ICO

It’s no secret “buyer beware” has become a mantra in the world of ICOs, where blockchain startups are raising millions, sometimes with just a white paper, a bright idea and a few lines of code. Indeed, The Wall Street Journal recently found that 271 of 1,450 ICOs it analyzed displayed “red flags that include plagiarized investor documents, promises of guaranteed returns and missing or fake executive teams.” Still, with regular Joes turning into crypto millionaires, however infrequently, they’re enticing bets for investors. Expanding on the WSJ’s analysis, CoinDesk wanted to make it clear…

Record $152 Million Lawsuit Ensnares Blockchain Project Augur

Three years ago, Augur, a prediction market system that runs on the ethereum blockchain, held one of the first initial coin offerings (ICOs), long before the funding mechanism gained mainstream momentum. Between August 7 and September 5, 2015, the project issued 8.8 million reputation (REP) tokens from a maximum circulating supply of 11 million tokens, each priced below $0.60, to raise over $5 million for the project. Supported by only a handful of team members, Augur devised a decentralized protocol where outcomes of events could be forecasted in a trustless,…

Russian Institutions to Trial Central Bank ICO Platform

Two Russian financial institutions are set to test a regulatory platform that aims to make domestic initial coin offerings (ICOs) more transparent and secure for traditional investors. Russia’s National Settlement Depository (NSD) announced on Thursday that it is working with Sberbank CIB, the bank’s corporate and investment banking arm, to test an ICO issuance platform launched by the Bank of Russia – the country’s central bank – in April. According to an announcement, in the testing environment, a company named Level One will launch a token sale, for which Sberbank…

Bet vs. Buy? The ICO Market Has a Serious East-West Divide

In the U.S., initial coin offerings (ICOs) are about ideas. In the Asian market, they’re about returns. “At the very beginning, the information coming from Asia to the US was very limited. We didn’t know what’s really going on,” Zhuling Chen, co-founder of Aelf, a cloud computing startup out of Singapore, told CoinDesk. So the Asian market took off on its own, informed by the ecosystems around bitcoin and ethereum but also distinct from them, such as when major Asian banks launched distinct efforts starting in early 2016. Some of…

Initial Coin Offerings Are Setting Capital Free. That’s Huge

Simon Johnson, co-author of the bestseller “13 Bankers,” is the Ronald A. Kurtz (1954) Professor of Entrepreneurship at the MIT Sloan School of Management. He also works closely with Joi Ito, head of MIT’s Media Lab, on the Digital Currency Initiative (DCI).    The following article originally appeared in Consensus Magazine, distributed exclusively to attendees of Consensus 2018. In 1913, H.G. Wells wrote “The World Set Free,” a chillingly prescient set of predictions about the development of technology.   Published in early 1914, this slim volume called it exactly right…

Move ‘Em Out: ICOs Don’t Seem So Scary Outside the US

ICO issuers are starting to look to jurisdictions outside the U.S. to set up shop. In an environment of regulatory uncertainty, where the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has begun investigating ICOs and the industry surrounding the capital raising technology but has yet to make a formal decision of how it will regulate crypto tokens, issuers and other stakeholders are finding other jurisdictions a better bet for launching their projects. And no other place during Blockchain Week was the topic hotter than at Token Summit III (the original event…

The SEC Just Launched a Fake ICO Website to Educate Investors

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission wants to ensure investors can identify fraudulent initial coin offerings – even if it has to launch its own to do so. The regulator announced Wednesday it has launched a mock ICO called HoweyCoin, presumably named after the Howey Test, which “touts an all too good to be true investment opportunity.” However, the company notes, “the offer isn’t real.” Users who try to invest in the token sale will instead be redirected to the regulator’s education tools, which are aimed at pointing out the…

ICO Project Polymath Is Trying to Buy a Stake In a Real Stock Exchange

If one announcement summarizes the ambitions of crypto project Polymath, it might be Wednesday’s acquisition of the domain Tokens.com. One of its several this week, it cuts to the heart of the project’s aims to dominate the issuance of tokenized securities. But the plans go beyond just the acquisition of potentially popular domain names. In the run-up to the company’s Wednesday morning appearance at CoinDesk’s Consensus conference, Polymath also revealed it’s in the process of closing a deal to acquire a large stake in the Barbados Stock Exchange and that it’s…

CNET Founder Closes $50 Million ICO for Video Streaming Token

Streaming a TV show or a sports game directly to your laptop doesn’t make big TV networks much money today. However, that might change if VideoCoin, a new decentralized project that’s taking aim at the price major broadcasters and media companies pay to stream content, succeeds on its vision. When a broadcaster sends out a broadcast over the airwaves, one signal can reach many devices, but when it broadcasts over the internet one signal goes to one device. “It’s all cost and no revenue,” Halsey Minor, CEO of Live Planet,…

Ethereum Co-Founder Battles ‘Dr Doom’ Roubini to Crypto Debate Draw

Nouriel Roubini was in full attack mode in his latest crypto debate. “The entire crypto land is more unequal in terms of income and wealth than North Korea,” he said Wednesday afternoon, and the jabs didn’t stop there, with the former Clinton administration economist, better known as “Dr. Doom” for his prediction of the 2008 financial collapse, taking his criticism of all things crypto to new levels. Still, this was perhaps to be expected. After antics onstage at the Milken Institute Global Conference last week earned him headlines, the organizers of the…