ICO stands for, “Initial Coin Offering” which is a fundraising mechanism for cryptocurrencies which has exploded in popularity this year – the majority of them are held on the Ethereum network. Similar to a kickstarter campaign, they allow entrepreneurs to raise money for projects by giving investors an early opportunity to purchase the cryptocurrency before the final product has been built. If the project is successful, the value of the cryptocurrency will rise in value and early investors can sell it on the open market for a profit.

ICO Controversy

ICOs have stirred up a lot of controversy because they represent a risky proposition with zero investor protection. Let’s say I wanted to build a casino and to finance it, I gave investors the opportunity to buy chips that can be used at my roulette tables once the casino opened. If you bought $100K in roulette chips from me and I decide that I no longer want to build the casino, you’re stuck holding worthless chips. If investors don’t do their due diligence, they may end up buying tokens for a project whose creators never intended on building it in he first place – the creators walk away with the money and the investors have no way of recouping their funds.

On the other hand, early investors in projects that go on to be successful have the opportunity to make enormous returns. For example, people who invested $1,000 in the Golem ICO would be sitting on $35,000 at it’s current price of $0.35 – if it ever goes to $10, they’re all millionaires. Another positive aspect of ICOs is that they let anyone, rich or poor get involved in early stage investing. To invest in a company like Twitter or Facebook pre-IPO (initial public offering), you need to be an accredited investor – this basically means you’re already a rich person. With ICOs, all you need is an internet connection and a little bit of money and you have the potential to become wealthy by investing in the right projects.

3 Curated Resources

One of my favorite blog writers on crypto. Gives a nice introduction to ICOs and why they can be scams sometimes.

See which of the top tokens are Ethereum based tokens. You can compare with a list of all the tokens (including ones not built on top of Ethereum) on CoinMarketCap.

The Bear Case for ICOs

free, Article

A strongly written article that you may or not agree with, but provides a lot of information. This author believes that the ICO bubble needs to pop before any real progress can be made with some of these cryptocurrencies. Unlike most information, this one isn’t all sunshine and rainbows.