February 11, 2021 |James Messi
In crypto, there exists a certain level of competitive horse racing energy between projects that keeps the space innovative, edgy, and dynamic. Everyone likely remembers the ICO-crazed madness that characterized 2017-2018 and put crypto on the map; but since then so many projects have come into and out of the space that it can be hard to keep track of what happened with the early stars. In this piece we will recap ten of the largest ICOs from the early years and how they are faring as we head into a crypto-bright 2021.
The DAO was the first example of what a Decentralized Autonomous Organization would look like. Open source code stepping into the place of a centralized governance. The cool thing that the DAO wanted to specialize in was they wanted to become a venture funding platform for other crypto projects.
The DAO launched one of the first ICOs and found massive success. In May of 2017 the DAO raised over $150 million USD in the form of other cryptocurrencies. Unfortunately, DAO’s vision was cut short after the project had to be abandoned when $50 million of the funds raised were stolen.
In order to thwart the attack, the Ethereum community voted to rollback the currency, returning the ETH given to DAO’s ICO back to the original investors. This was a controversial move, but as the saying goes: “any press is good press” and this move had a bit of a Streisand effect from those who wished ill towards the future of these projects.
Bancor might be recognized by some of those who have been in the cryptocurrency community for longer, as its initial launch saw moderate success. In June of 2017 Bancor raised $153 million in three hours, finding massive support from wealthy investors. Bancor’s goal was to launch a service that allows users to launch their own blockchain ideas.
Not two years later, however, Tragedy struck Bancor from multiple fronts. The value of Bancor dropped when a large sum of money was stolen from Bancor’s exchange, and their exchange was forced to ban US users due to regulatory concerns.
At this point, not much hope was left for Bancor. News outlets caught wind that Bancor’s creators had lost their own hope and had resorted to reinvesting most of the ICO that they were given elsewhere.
Bancor still exists as a currency today, but it has not seen the heights that it first saw in 2018 and likely never will again.
Sirin Labs tried their hand at crypto when they offered an ICO joined with their plans to build the world’s first “blockchain phone.” This project would create a mobile device that could also work as a cryptocurrency wallet, token, and more – making good, complex use of the DAPP architecture.
Sirin Labs were no liars – and they successfully launched the production of their promised device. Unfortunately, whether they be just too far ahead of their time or due to the inaccessibility of the device, the project flopped.
The startup then was faced with laying off a large part of their workforce, and are still floating an unpaid factory bill for the manufacture of the phones.
Needless to say, Sirin’s stock price tanked. Other, more robust companies have since followed their trailblazing and launched their own crypto-compatible phones, but coming up with the idea isn’t enough in Sirin’s case, as they still have yet to make a comeback.
The Summer of 2017 was hot for ICOs – and Tezos was right in the heat of it. Tezos raised a staggering $232 million for a smart contract platform designed to power other online digital economies.
Tezos’s selling point would eventually be its downfall. Tezos bastioned a “self amending” governance that would prevent any bad press that came from something like the pseudo-rollback ETH did after the DAO hack.
Extremely attractive for some, the strict adherence in allowing a coin to go where it ends up regardless of the means stirred up a little concern in others. A class-action lawsuit was drawn up by some of the people that funded the ICO – claiming that the terms of their ICO weren’t met fully.
Tezos treaded water until they inevitably had to settle, however the $25 million payout to investors was not too much for Tezos to keep their head above water.
Tezos exists today as a favorite in Western Europe, chosen by banks and other larger companies. They have expanded their platform greatly, offering new function of the currency and spiking to $4.39 in 2020.
Filecoin raised over $257 million in September 2017 – promising to build a decentralized marketplace for data storage. As big data increases and the value of personal data is scrutinized, a safe haven away from cloud storage like filecoin is a win-win for consumers.
Filecoin had a massive start and was an eagerly anticipated project after it’s initial announcement. A project like this is no easy task; filecoin found many setbacks after they began work. They recently launched in October of 2020.
FIL opened at a shocking $26 and peaked at $63. Today, FIL sits at a disappointing $23, though it still remains an ICO success due to filecoin tokens being worth 14 times the average price paid during its ICO.
Hyundai subsidiary HDAC launched their own ICO in December of 2017. HDAC gathered $258 million in their ICO and was one of the largest yet.
HDAC was designed to be a blockchain that works with the idealistic Internet of Things and work alongside other blockchains. Its lofty goals however weren’t enough to keep the coin afloat – as the top price of the token reached only $0.106. Today the coin has fallen to $0.014
HDAC is still clinging to life, and they are begging to not be counted out. In 2020 HDAC entered the DAPP market with their first addition in March. Since then, HDAC has announced their intentions to launch a full blockchain platform.
March of 2018 had Dragon Inc. launch their own ICO for Dragon Coin (DRG). Dragon Coin was designed to lead the South East Asia online gambling market. Whether it be from the trust in the coin itself or the fact that Dragon Coin is such a cool name, it raised $320 million during their ICO.
Not a month after their release, Cambridge Analytica revealed that DRG had a hand in influencing hundreds of international elections, and was actually promoting this during their campaign.
This wasn’t the end for Dragon Coin’s bad press, however, as Thailand’s government got involved and found collusion with some of their own. DRG at it’s conception was worth over $2. Since then DRG has seen a steady decline and now rests at $0.007.
TaTaTu had an interesting idea – create a Netflix like blockchain that awarded viewers with their coin for watching movies. TaTaTu had the backing of many of Hollywood’s own, including the founder Andrea Iervolino, a movie producer himself.
TaTaTu raised a respectable $575 million from backers in 2018, however their story, not unlike a good movie, has taken quite a few turns since its conception. In an attempt to bring films that viewers actually wanted to watch, TaTaTu teamed up with Johnny Depp. TaTaTu still struggled to get any bigger films and pivoted to become a semi-social media platform.
Creating and supporting Iervolino’s own films may be his strategy, as his new films are seeing massive success in the box office. Perhaps TaTaTu will take a different turn to finally find success, as they haven’t been traded or mined in the last 50 days.
These next two will feature exponential increases in the ICO.Either the popularity and success of the messaging app or the ideas behind the coin pushed their ICO to astronomical numbers. Telegram creators, the Durov brothers, raised $1.7 billion during their multiple ICOs for their coin Telegram Open Network (TON).
TON was created to support messaging payments through their already set software. They ran into much trouble after the US SEC prohibited its launch in October 2019. After fighting long and hard to reach a solution, the SEC didn’t budge and TON was never launched.
Telegram was ordered to refund the $1.2 billion to investors and pay a $18.5 million fine on top of it, officially killing the project for good.
EOS had one of the longest ICOs and appropriately raised the largest amount of funds that any ICO has raised before – $4.2 billion.
The project was founded by Dan Larimer, a cryptocurrency expert and someone who has been in the game for a long time. As many who are in his position usually do, he saw the strength of smart contracts and subsequently DAPPs and set out to create a platform that would support these things.
EOS was marketed as a competitor to the other smart contract leader, Ethereum. EOS claimed that they could handle thousands of more transactions per second than Ethereum and would therefore inevitably eclipse Ethereum in every regard.
This plan didn’t go off without a hitch as they had anticipated, as claims about the coin not being decentralized or as fast as they had claimed buried them. These claims, true or false, still caused a massive evacuation of developers and users – both required to run a DAPP network.
December 31, 2020 saw the resignation of EOS creator Larimer. This didn’t totally topple the coin, as they have certainly had ups and downs since then, but nothing compared to their initial release.
ICOs are a great way for coins to start off their endeavours, however, they aren’t a great indicator for if a coin will succeed. Popularity and hype are well and good, but aren’t enough to keep a coin afloat after the excitement has died nor keep other coins out of legal trouble.
Creating and supporting a coin is incredibly difficult work – and all the hype or funding in the world won’t be able to eclipse the red tape or development hangups that are sure to be thrown at these startups.
Keep an eye as new coins are always popping up on the market – let us know if you see any that have potential!