It took Facebook seven years to raise $1 billion from investors. Uber did it in five.
The messaging company Telegram has been around since 2013, but never tried to raise significant money until late last year. Now, thanks to an initial coin offering, or ICO, Telegram is on track to pull in $1 billion in just four months — long before the product the company is raising money for is even built.
Does that makes sense? And is the potential as big as the results indicate?
Here is the reality! There is no security that after a successful ICO the product itself will be developed or if developed will be successful.
When programmers or entrepreneurs launch an ICO, what they are really doing is selling their own virtual currencies in order to raise money for software they say they are building. In return for real money, investors receive digital tokens, similar to bitcoin.
Here starts the work of the regulators which should also awaken our cautiousness as there is no security and the past has already shown that many of the ICO´s only led to disappointment and loss of capital. Financial authorities around the world have been promising to crack down on coin offerings, which rose out of nowhere last year to become a popular way for startups to raise tens of millions of dollars, sometimes in minutes.
In recent months, the Securities and Exchange Commission of the US has been sending out subpoenas, asking for information about coin offerings that may have violated the law — although how existing laws may apply remains unclear. Nonetheless, companies like Telegram are still proceeding with their offerings and hoping they can stay out of trouble.
There is a huge potential in the ICO´s and lots of the development of new ideas only have a chance to emerge thanks to this way of funding capital. At the same time there is a huge risk for investors who do now know the market and may face total loss of capital invested.
Knowledge is Power