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Komodo's 2.0 Infographic Contest: 5,000 KMD Grand Prize!

Komodo's 2.0 Infographic Contest: 5,000 KMD Grand Prize!

https://preview.redd.it/0yq7rwnkjdq11.png?width=1500&format=png&auto=webp&s=950dd49d7e1f7f1e421f7074bd030aec064e6ac7
A total prize pool of 7,000 KMD in our infographic contest
Calling all creatives to take part in our infographic contest and compete for a prize of 7,000 KMD. The winning infographic will explain the architecture of Komodo Platform’s technology. Winners will be those who are able to communicate our architecture and tech visually. This contest will run primarily on Reddit, with the exception of resources being posted to Medium and a master twitter thread for submissions on Twitter. You'll find links at the bottom of this post.

Prizes for winning infographics.

Are you a creative designer? Here's what you can win…
  1. A grand prize of 5,000 KMD
  2. Two runner-up prizes of 500 KMD each
  3. Two third-place prizes of 250 KMD each

Prizes for sharing and giving feedback!

Not a designer? That's OK. You can still participate and win! We'll award five lucky winners 100 KMD each for sharing and promoting the contest. Winners will be picked in a raffle. If you'd like to take part click here https://gleam.io/MwMtO/komodos-20-infographic-contest-5000-kmd-grand-prize and share this post with your friends.

Your Goals

  • Create a high-quality infographic that illustrates the genesis of our platform, the working tech that has been created and how Komodo has been built differently, and deliberately, from the very beginning to ensure security, scalability and interoperability. This is why we refer to the architecture, because Komodo was designed to overcome common problems like congestion, governance and attacks that other platforms did not foresee or prevent, from the beginning. This is Komodo DNA.
  • Share your submission far and wide and encourage your friends and followers to vote for you.
  • Encourage feedback, ask questions and make your infographic the best that it can be.

Our Criteria to Judge

Please note that upvotes and shares are not the only criteria we'll use to judge winners. While useful, we will value creativity, good questions and discussion on Reddit highly. When sharing your posts you will score more highly if people comment, provide feedback and are engaged.
  • How well the infographic conveys our working tech, it's core concepts and plans to build on top of it.
  • How well the infographic illustrates our story, purpose and conveys our tech so that it's easy to understand.
  • Constructive discussion, questions and feedback on Reddit that lead to improvement.
  • Sentiment and comments generated across all our social media. This will not include vanity metrics like likes or shares.
  • Upvotes on Reddit for the author's submission post ONLY. All votes will be counted (i.e. doesn't matter which week they were made).
  • Retweets of the submission in our master thread ONLY. Include your handle and a cover image in your submission. This means if you promote yourself on Twitter you ought to promote the tweet with your work in it.

How do you win?

You may submit up to two infographics. By submitting an infographic, you understand Komodo may post and use your submissions on our digital channels during and after the contest. Each infographic must have it's own post.
  • Create a post on Komodo's subreddit using the 'infographic contest' flair.
  • Add the infographic image into the Reddit post.
  • Include your Twitter handle.
  • Include a social media friendly cover image for us to use when we tweet your submission out.
  • Post a link to your submission post here in the comments for all to see.

Contest Timeline Guide (these dates indicative and are subject to change).

  • 7th September. Announcement. If you're reading this on Reddit before the big announcement then well done! You have two extra days before this is announced on Friday.
  • 10th - 21st September. Research and Questions. We will promote the contest, invite questions and requests for resources, in the comments of this master Reddit post (because this means all information and good questions will be visible to all participants).
  • 22nd September. Draft Submissions. Creatives to submit their draft infographics on Reddit. All submissions need to have their own post and then be linked to in the comments of this master post. This is important to remember!
  • 24th - 30th September. Feedback. A period of one week will be devoted to promoting the submissions and asking the community and team to give you feedback.
  • 1st October. Final Submissions.
  • 2nd - 8th October. Voting. A week of promoting your work and at the end we'll count votes, consider feedback and pick our winners.
  • 15th October. Winners Declared. The final decision by judges. Votes and community feedback counts towards judging but do not have final say.

Resources

If you need help please post in this thread, or email [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected]) with ‘Infographic Contest’ in the subject line.
  1. A list of resources for the Komodo infographic contest including tools to create infographics.
  2. Komodo Platform: Redefining The Architecture Of Blockchain Platforms
  3. A bullet point study aid to help you understand the history of Komodo’s architecture.
  4. Logo Pack https://komodoplatform.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Komodo-Logo-Pack.zip
  5. Mylo's notes on Software & Platform Architecture for Designers in the Infographic Contest
  6. Mylo's Conceptual Model of Architecture
  7. Video: A brief history of our working tech and an animated timeline of the Komodo Platform.
  8. Video: Komodo Atomic Swaps Explained.
Also please let us know if you are, or you know, a good GUI developer because we'd love to hear from them. Ask them to DM ca333#0118 or SHossain#8093 on Discord.

Entries and submissions for the infographic contest. You can click here to see them all in a scrollable thread on Twitter.

25/09/18 - First Round of Feedback

Infographics should use graphical design elements to visually represent the Komodo Architecture Story found here: https://komodoplatform.com/komodo-platform-a-brief-overview/ included in our ‘required reading’. There’s also a bullet point aid: https://medium.com/@benohanlon/bullet-point-aid-to-help-you-the-history-of-komodos-architecture-dced35b29965 you may find useful.
  • We want to stress that the infographic ought to focus on the Architecture story. In the first round we've found many have focused on the five pillars which is a part of it but not the focus.
  • Copy should be short and concise and not dominate the infographic. The idea is to simplify the story and not to copy and paste directly from the story.
  • Colour Palette - avoid heavy usage of the old KMD green and yellow-orange. Would prefer usage of the interim KMD colour palette.
  • Recommended fonts: Montseratt, Roboto, Open Sans, Helvetica, or Arial.
  • Graphical - Imagery should complement the associated copy. Diagrams are encouraged in place of simple icons to explain more complex technology concepts.
  • Interim KMD colour palette
Interim KMD Colour Palette
If you’ve not been included in the first round it’s because the submission hadn’t been made when the team reviewed. Don’t worry though because we’re organising hangouts and further feedback to help.
  • #001 Infographic Link // Reddit Post Link by thesudio. There’s a lot of good points made, however, these would work better if there is a clear narrative and flow to the information being presented. Otherwise, it can be overwhelming and confusing to the reader. The #1 objective is to visually depict the architecture story and how KMD is redefining blockchain platform architecture.
  • #002 Infographic Link // Reddit Post Link by thesudio. We like that there is a clear structure and clear messaging aligned to each of the 5 pillars. However, the infographic should be focused on telling the architecture story vs the pillars.
  • #003 Infographic Link // Reddit Post Link by VolsenVols. Love how you’ve incorporated our existing graphic design elements into the infographic. This is heading in the right direction and the level of copy and content are well balanced. It would be nice to align this closer to the architecture story and to expand on the different layers of our technology using the same style.
  • #004 Infographic Link // Reddit Post Link by dexter_laabo. Needs to tell the architecture story. This looks more like it took information from our current website. “Anonymous” is not a key aspect of our technology that we’re focusing on.
  • #005 Infographic Link // Reddit Post Link by savandra. The visuals are strong but the narrative could be stronger. It would be nice to align this closer to the architecture story and to expand on the different layers of our technology using the same style.
  • #006 Infographic Link // Reddit Post Link by VolsenVols. Team prefers the other submission style in entry #003.
  • #007 Infographic Link // Reddit Post Link by cryptol1. Doesn’t depict the architecture narrative. Inaccurately describes cross-chain tech as “proprietary”. Simplification has the wrong messaging associated, should be white-label focused. This is considered more of a graphics versus an infographic. Needs to be more comprehensive.
  • #008 Infographic Link // Reddit Post Link by pacosenda. We like the unique design style and approach taken. Doesn’t follow the architecture narrative. Should be expanded out as it is a bit short on content with no clear flow or narrative.
  • #009 Infographic Link // Reddit Post Link by jeanetteLine. Great level of detail and thought on the layout and content. Doesn’t, however, cover the architecture story. Would be preferred if the design direction reflects interim colour and style vs. legacy KMD. The roadmap should be avoided. Looks like they borrowed more from the website than the guidelines.
  • #010 Infographic Link // Reddit Post Link by Meyse. Very creative way to explain and layout the content. This could be expanded out more to encompass the entire architecture story. Cross-chain verifications/smart contracts, blockchain bridging need to be incorporated in.
  • #011 Infographic Link // Reddit Post Link by Brenny431. Follows the 5 pillars versus the architecture story. Would prefer stronger visuals and design elements.
  • #012 Infographic Link // Reddit Post Link by ProofDraw. Design elements are good but need to follow architecture story versus 5 pillars.
  • #013 Infographic Link // Reddit Post Link by sayonara_girl. Needs to follow the architecture story.
  • #014 Infographic Link // Reddit Post Link by Limiter02. Good thought has gone into the copy, however, there’s way too much of it. Would prefer stronger visuals and utilizing a more visual storytelling approach. Doesn’t follow the architecture story. Remove the lizard.
  • #015 Infographic Link // Reddit Post Link by piptothemoon. Great thought into visually representing key points. Needs to be expanded out to incorporate the architecture story, but this is heading in the right direction from a visual storytelling POV.
  • #016 Infographic Link // Reddit Post Link by thecryptofoundation. Love the timeline approach, and mostly followed the guidelines and architecture story. Also, like the incorporation of accomplishments at the end. Would like to get the stock imagery used to reflect our interim colour palette. Not all visuals match what is being represented in the copy.
  • #017 Infographic Link // Reddit Post Link by jsteneros. As discussed in the Zoom call, this graphic is really solid but a little heavy on the copy. Would be good to see more visualizations of the info. This graphic hits on some of the important messages (e.g. Komodo is built differently from other blockchain platforms and solves many of the issues that first-gen platforms are struggling with) but it would be great if there was more information about Komodo’s architecture and how Komodo is different from other platforms.
  • #018 Infographic Link // Reddit Post Link by gravigocrypto. This one was also discussed in the Zoom call. Outstanding visuals and overall design. The info follows the architecture story well but could be stronger if the 3 layers of Komodo’s architecture were tied together into one, coherent visual. It’s a challenging task but that’s part of the contest : )
  • #019 Infographic Link // Reddit Post Link by PacoSenda. This is a really creative infographic, which is great! However, we’d really like to see the visuals a bit more in line with fonts and color palette described above in the “First Round of Feedback” section. Also, as with the feedback for many of the infographic submissions, sticking to the Komodo architecture story would be best.
  • #020 Infographic Link // Reddit Post Link by emmanmalaman. The visuals are pretty cool but this one misses most of our core messaging. It would be much stronger if it followed the architecture story and touched on the info provided in this post. There’s definitely potential here but it needs some work.
  • #021 Infographic Link // Reddit Post Link by immimidada. The colors and visuals here are spot-on. It’s also really great that it sets up the problem and then presents the Komodo solution. However, the problem and solution aren’t defined exactly the way we’d like. Check out the architecture narrative to learn more, and try to follow that story a bit more closely.
  • #022 Infographic Link // Reddit Post Link by mohitgfx3. This one is a bit heavy on the KMD logos. We’re really hoping to see a visualization of Komodo’s infrastructure architecture. As with the feedback for many of the infographics, it would be best to re-read Komodo’s architecture story and try to stick to that as much as possible. Using images from the current website is also not a great approach, as we’re preparing to launch a new site in the coming months.
  • #023 Infographic Link // Reddit Post Link by u/sayonara_girl. Some of the visuals are cool! It’s missing the narrative we’re looking for. In general, less copy and more visual storytelling would improve this graphic a lot. We’d like to see a smooth, linear flow of information. Take another look at the architecture story and try to follow that narrative.
  • #024 Infographic Link // Reddit Post Link by brunopugens. This one follows the narrative well! But it’s a little heavy on the copy. It would be much stronger if the architecture was displayed visually, rather than explained with text. Also, the design is cool but it’s difficult to read b/c the perspective of the text is skewed. It’s a really cool idea but might be better to put the text flat for the sake of readability and clarity.

We hosted a round of live feedback sessions via Zoom. The recording is here:

https://soundcloud.com/blockchainists/zoom-call-first-round-of-feedback-for-komodos-infographic-contest#t=3:50

Timeline

The first block in the KMD blockchain was mined just under two years ago, on September 13, 2016 to 9:04 PM. Since then, Komodo has demonstrated a commitment to innovation and established a history of execution.
  • February 21, 2016 — The vision for Komodo Platform is born with jl777’s Declaration of Independence.
  • September 13, 2016 — The first block in the KMD chain is mined.
  • October 15, 2016 — Komodo’s initial coin offering (ICO) is launched.
  • November 20, 2016 — Komodo’s ICO comes to a close with a total of 2,639 BTC raised.
  • January 2017 — The Komodo Mainnet is launched, complete with independent assetchains and delayed Proof of Work security.
  • January 31, 2017 — The KMD coins purchased in the ICO are issued.
  • March 2017 — Komodo’s development team develops one of the first atomic swap protocols.
  • July 2017 — Thousands of atomic swaps are made in a public, observable setting.
  • August 2017 — Private, zero-knowledge trades made possible with Jumblr, Komodo’s native shuffler.
  • October 2017 — Komodo develops a way to make atomic swaps in SPV Mode (“Lite Mode”), thus eliminating the need for traders to download entire blockchains to do atomic swaps.
  • November 2017 — First GUI for Komodo’s atomic-swap-powered decentralized exchange (DEX) is released, making atomic swap trading more accessible than ever before.
  • January 2018 — The mobile version of Agama wallet is released.
  • February 2018 — A public stress test allows 13,900 atomic swaps in a 48 hour period.
  • March 2018Komodo bridges the gap between Bitcoin-protocol-based coins and Ethereum-based ERC-20 tokens, providing support for 95% of coins and tokens in existence.
  • March 2018 — Komodo holds its second annual Notary Node Elections.
  • May 2018 — The world’s first decentralized ICO is held on Komodo Platform.
  • June 2018 — The alpha release of HyperDEX, a new GUI for Komodo’s decentralized exchange, is launched.
  • July 2018 — Komodo enters a partnership with Netcoins, making KMD coins available for purchase with fiat currencies at over 21,000 locations across three continents.
  • July 2018 — Komodo announces the 5 Pillars of Blockchain technology and begins introducing some Komodo 2.0 technology features, like Federated Multi-Chain Syncing and Cross-Chain Smart Contracts.
  • August 2018 — Komodo takes two big steps towards mass adoption, announces a collaboration with Ideas By Nature, an industry-leading blockchain agency, and releases a full briefing on the development on UTXO-based smart contracts.

Achievements

  • Cryptomiso.com is a website that ranks 866 different blockchain projects according to the Github commit history of that project’s most popular repo. Komodo is ranked #1 overall for Github commits over the last 12 months.
  • China's Ministry Research Initiative regularly ranks Komodo in the top 10.
  • Binance CEO highlights Komodo (see this Five Bullet Friday edition for more info).

If you would like to update your post, please edit and add to the post so people can see the different iterations. Entries and submissions for the infographic contest. You can click here to see them all in a scrollable thread on Twitter.

submitted by benohanlon to komodoplatform [link] [comments]

Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs)

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Now I want to share some cool info on the purpose and role of tokens within the Blockchain ecosystem at the ICO stage.
Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) History
Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) are a means of fundraising for the initial capital needed to get new projects off the ground within the cryptocurrency ecosystem. More often than not, Bitcoin and Ethereum, are used to buy a quantity of project tokens. However, new projects are also being launched on alternative Blockchain platforms such as NEO or WANchain, wherein the “parent” chain’s tokens will be used to fund these ICOs. Pre-launch, ICO tokens are endorsed as functional currency in the project ecosystem. After a project’s ICO, it is available on exchanges, and then the market determines the value of those tokens. The main benefit of using the ICO funding system is that it avoids the prohibitive amount of time and expense incurred by launching a startup in the conventional method, by way of Initial Public Offering (IPO). The lengthy and costly process of ensuring regulatory compliance in different jurisdictions often makes the IPO format unfeasible for small companies. Thus, the ICO method of fundraising is far more attractive as a means of crowd funding for the project. But at the same time, an ICO is certainly riskier for the investor.
It is important to note the different stages of the token sale. Token prices generally escalate the closer the token gets to its listing date. Projects often seek funding from angel investors even before the date of the private pre-sale is set, though some ICOs do go straight to pre-sale. After potential initial investment has been sought from angel investors, pre-sale begins. Usually there will be a 15–30% discount from the public sale price. The main-sale begins after the pre-sale has concluded. At that time, normal everyday crypto enthusiasts, with no connections to the team, may buy into the project at pretty close to the ground floor price. Angel investors and pre-sale investors sometimes receive quite large discounts from main sale prices, but their tokens are locked up for varying amounts of time, to prevent dumping, or selling all their tokens for a quick profit at the time of listing. Today the vast majority of ICOs make use of the Ethereum blockchain and the ERC-20 token. The very first token sale was arranged by Mastercoin, a Bitcoin fork, in July 2013. Ethereum soon followed in early 2014, raising 3700 BTC in only 12 hours (equivalent to $2.3 million at that time, and just under $35 million today). Before late 2015 there were sporadic ICOs, with Augur, NXT and Factom all successfully raising funds. 2016 was the year that the ICO format grew to truly disrupt the Venture Capital industry. There were 64 ICOs in 2016 which cumulatively raised $103 million USD.
Tremendous Success & Why Real World Case Study
The ICON (ICX) Initial coin offering is an example of a project that reaped the rewards of a token sale done with precision of execution and clarity of vision. The project promised to build a world-wide decentralized network that would allow Blockchains of different governances to transact with one another without a centralized authority, and with as few barriers as possible. ICX offered fair and clear tokenomics, with 1 Ether buying 2500 ICX, and with 1 ETH costing approximately 250 dollars when the ICO began on September 18th. 50% of the total amount of tokens were put up for public sale, 400,230,000 out of a total of 800,460,000, equating to a fundraising goal of 150,000 Ether. One of the core reasons for the project’s spectacular success was the incredibly distinguished background of those involved, and the foundation the project had in many years of stellar achievement. ICON was originally a project developed by “The Loop”, a joint venture between DAYLI financial group and three Korean Universities. They lead the Korea Financial Investment Blockchain Consortium, one of the largest organizations of its kind in the world, boasting members including Samsung Securities. The Loop had already implemented Blockchain solutions for high profile clients well before ICX was born, including completing a KYC/AML authentication smart contract platform for Korea Financial Investment Consortium.
Real World Example of Failure & Why Case Study
The risk involved in starting your own company is huge. Over 75% of startups eventually fail, according to the Harvard Business School study by Shikhar Ghosh. The study’s findings show the rate of failure for new companies is roughly 50% after 5 years, and over 75% after 10. Shikhar Ghosh identifies the following issues as the most common factors in start-up failure: -Insufficient Market Demand -Insolvency -Wrong Team -Got beat by competition -Pricing/Cost issues -Poor Product -Need for or Lack of business model -Ineffective Marketing -Disregarding Customer desires The statistics concerning rate of failure for conventional business startups pale in comparison to the number of crypto startups that fail according to Tokendata. They are one of the most rigorous ICO trackers, recording 46% of the 902 ICO crowdsale projects initiated in 2017 as failing by the time of writing. Of these 46%, 142 collapsed before the end of the funding stage, and a further 276 had either “exit scammed” (took the money and ran) or slowly faded into eventual obscurity. With no shortage of failed and abortive projects to look into, we thought it would be more helpful to look into an ICO that was mismanaged and unsuccessful in terms of its execution, rather than being fraudulent, or terminally mismanaged.
Real World Example of Failure & Why §3
Tezos was designed as a “new decentralized Blockchain that governs itself by establishing a true digital commonwealth”. The project was a partnership between the husband and wife team of Kathleen and Arthur Breitman, and a Swiss foundation run by Johann Gevers. They had a novel idea of “formal verification”, a technique that mathematically proves the veracity of code governing transactions and heightens security of smart contracts. That idea was wholeheartedly endorsed by investors, resulting in $232 million USD raised in the 2017 crowdsale. Trouble arose after the Breitmans asked the head of the Swiss foundation they were in partnership with to step down. In Gever’s words, the Breitman’s were attempting “to bypass Swiss legal structure and take over control of the foundation”. The resulting 6 class action lawsuits that were spawned from the wreckage of one of the most successful ICOs of all time have yet to be fully resolved at the time of writing, though Gevers has stepped down and a new leadership team is in place. The Tezos Network has a prospective launch date of somewhere around Q3 2018. The debacle, though not terminal to the prospects of the Tezos network, provides a cautionary tale about the need for a clearly defined leadership structure and plan for the allocation of funds after an ICO. It is entirely possible that the Tezos project could have ridden the late 2017 market euphoria to sit near the top of the cryptocurrency hierarchy if boardroom strife could have been avoided.
Real World Example of Failure & Why §4
Projects often also “pivot” from one focus or project to another. More often than not, teams change the project name entirely, even while retaining the same core team, to try for a successful venture one more time. One such project is Chain Trade Token (CTT) which, while technically speaking, not yet a “deadcoin”, shows all the signs of shutting down operations within a few months, and “pivoting” into a new project. The CTT project aimed to be the “first blockchain-based platform for the trading of futures and options on food and raw materials (aka commodity derivatives)”. But through a combination of a non-existent social media presence, and a distinct lack of urgency in securing listings beyond decentralized exchanges, the lofty ambitions of the top-level team were left unrealized. The team has supposedly split their operations from solely Chain Trade, to a former business endeavors, and the Nebula Decentralized Exchange. The project leaders then offered a 1-for-1 token swap which has been accepted by the vast majority of CTT holders.
The ICO Process
Before even researching the particular strengths and weaknesses of any specific project in which you may want to invest, it is important to know the overall processes of the ICO crowdfunding method. This will allow you to avoid any potential pitfalls if you do decide to move forward and invest money into a particular idea or project. How does an ICO happen? Stage One: Token sale details are set: This takes place usually after release of the whitepaper, and the presentation of a project to prospective investors in forums and on social media. Stage Two: Whitelisting for private sale begins: The vast majority of all ICOs have instituted KYC checks for investors which usually involve uploading a photograph of your passport or driving license along with a selfie holding the ID. Did you know? Participation in ICOs has proven to be a regulatory nightmare in some localities. Most token sales restrict contributions from investors in China and the USA entirely, though accredited investors may participate in the USA in some cases.
Stage Three: Private/Pre-sale states: Typically, 10% of tokens will be offered to early investors at a 10–30% discount. These select few investors will likely have a close association with the team. But not all projects have a pre-sale round, some go straight to public sale. Stage Four: Whitelisting for Public/Main sale starts: The same format used for pre-sale investors is used for public sale investors, though it is a regular occurrence to see main sale KYC checks closed early due to overwhelming demand. An investor must then register a contribution wallet address. That is the address used to send cryptocurrency from, to buy the ICO tokens, and then also into which you will receive your purchased tokens. This wallet address must be a non-exchange wallet, like Blockchain.info bitcoin wallet, or MyEtherWallet for ERC-20. You already understand from the prior lesson that making a mistake with your wallet address may mean you lose the tokens forever as well as the BTC or ETH you used to purchase them. Copying and pasting your cryptocurrency public key into the whitelist wallet form is the next task to complete. And then, as the investor, you wait for confirmation of successful ICO registration from the team.
Stage Five: Public sale starts: Commonly on a specific date, though sometimes for a specific period of time. If you are interested in participating in an ICO, it is important to make your contribution as quickly as possible, or you risk sending your ETH or BTC after the hard cap has been reached, resulting in your funds being sent back. This refund can sometimes take many days, or even weeks in times of high market activity. Did you know? In 2017 it was not unheard of to find ICOs that had originally scheduled their ICO period for many weeks, but then they met with such high demand that they could close their crowdsale in a matter of hours or even in just a few minutes!
Stage Six: Tokens are allocated to successful participant investor wallets, and trading can begin on some decentralized exchanges like IDEX, or EtherDelta in the case of Ethereum based tokens. Tokens will be sent to and received by the wallet addresses from which the investor contributions were made. Stage Seven: Tokens are listed on mainstream exchanges: The tokens will then be listed on the exchanges with which the teams have negotiated listing, prior to or during the sale. It can cost huge amounts of money to list on large exchanges like Bitfinex Bittrex, Huobi or Binance, so usually smaller projects will not be listed on top 10 exchanges so quickly. As tokens are listed on more and more exchanges, their price usually rises because more and more investors are exposed to opportunities to buy that particular token.
Evaluating a Blockchain Use Case
Evaluating a particular use case for Blockchain technology, and thus how successful an ICO project’s ambitions might be in a particular market, is not a simple endeavor. As demonstrated in the graphic below, Blockchain technology has nearly limitless potential to be applied to a great variety of business areas, but as an ICO investor, you are looking for projects that have the potential to deliver significant long-term success. In the currently saturated ICO environment, some use cases have more potential than others. Ascertaining which use case is likely to have long term success is a key distinction. Also, we must recognize that businesses and corporate entities may be overeager to experiment with this new Blockchain technology, whether or not usage of the technology is actually advisable or profitable for their particular purpose. The main questions to ask when analyzing specific solutions proposed by the project are: What are the problems posed and the solutions offered? Does this particular area of business need a Blockchain solution? That is, is a Blockchain solution in fact superior to the current way this particular business operates? Is the use of Blockchain in this specific instance feasible and applicable? What are competitors doing about Blockchain projects in this same area?
A Blockchain network provides a shared, replicated, secured, immutable and verifiable data ledger. The implication for use case analysis: Shared and replicated: participants have a copy of the ledger and many people can view it or work on it Secured: Secured through cryptography Verifiable: Business rules are associated with all interactions that occur on the network Immutable: Transactions (records) cannot be modified or deleted, therefore a verifiable audit trail is maintained by the network So, with all this considered, what should we look for with regard to a possible business use case that would be best solved using Blockchain technology? 1. Data exchange that has trust issues i.e. businesses transacting with one another. Trust must be established through a multitude of verification processes with regards to employees and products. These processes increase operational cost. Example: Digital voting. 2. Any potential business process involving data storage, or compliance and risk data that get audited. Blockchain solutions would provide the regulators a real-time view of information. Example: Supply chain solutions like VeChain or WaltonChain. The possibility of close to zero operational loss would of course be attractive to any business. 3. All kinds of asset transactions. A Blockchain network, with its tamper-proof ledger, validating traceable and trackable transactions, could save many different industries untold amounts of money. Example: Tokenization of assets e.g. Jibrel Network or Polymath
Purpose of Tokens
Within the cryptocurrency ecosystem, the definition and role of a token iswidely understood. They represent programmable units of currency that sit atop a particular Blockchain, and they are part of a smart contract “logic” specific to a certain application. In the business sphere, a token can be defined as a unit of value that a project or business venture creates to enable it to self-govern. And the business venture also allows token users to connect and collaborate with its business products, while facilitating the sharing of rewards to all of its stakeholders. A token can also be described in a more general sense as a type of privately issued currency. In the past it was solely within the purview of governments to issue currency and set the terms of its governance. With the advent of Blockchain technology we now have businesses and organizations offering forms of digital money over which they, not the government or central bank, have control of the terms of operations and issuance. Wide scale adoption of these mechanisms could fundamentally alter the global economy. This is like the creation of self-sustaining, mini-economies in any sector of business or life, via a specific token or currency.
Fun Fact: Tokens of the particular Blockchain upon which the project is launched will usually have to be bought in order to be exchanged for ICO tokens, hence it is important for traders and investors to be aware of the schedule for upcoming ICOs. ETH is usually the token used for exchange because the majority of ICOs launch on the Ethereum Blockchain. But this is not always the case. During January 2018, two NEO token ICOs, both the Key TKY and Ontology ICOs, were being carried out, and this caused the NEO cryptocurrency to spike to its all-time high in excess of $160 USD. Since the product or project is more often than not in its embryonic stage at the time of the ICO crowdfunding process, the ICO token’s true function and purpose is in most cases yet to be realized. At the ICO stage the tokens can usually be grouped together into one of three categories. Knowing how to distinguish these categories involves determining the specific nature and function of the token around which the project is centered. The main and crucial distinction, is whether or not a token is a security, and therefore subject to securities registration requirements.
ICO Stage Token Categories
Howey Test: This is the test created by the US Supreme Court to ascertain whether certain transactions qualify as “investment contracts”. If they are found to fall within this classification, then under the Securities Act of 1933 and the Exchange Act of 1934, those transactions are considered “securities” and participants must adhere to registration and disclosure requirements. One of the most important and amazing considerations of the effect of Blockchain technology is that normal people with a computer science background are now empowered to make decisions and offer products and services that previously only licensed financial institutions were able to do. This is a very complex and complicated situation with serious ramifications for anyone involved. One thing to note well is that ordinary participants and actors in this arena can easily commit white-collar crime, violating serious securities laws, without even realizing it. If a token falls within the US legal definition of “Investment Contract” then you must adhere to US regulations. For that reason, many ICOs simply do not want to sell to US based investors, perhaps until all the rules and regulations are clarified.
Security Tokens
The broad and varying definition of the term “security” is a regulatory minefield. This has always been true for traditional financial products, and now it is especially true for the as yet unregulated cryptocurrency market. In the case of SEC V. Howey, parameters were established to determine whether or not a particular financial arrangement could be classified as a security and thus be subject to securities regulations. Cooley LLP Fintech Team Leader Marco Santori has said, an arrangement is a security if it involves “an investment of money, and a common enterprise, with the expectation of profit, primarily from the efforts of others.” Investors have the option of accessing a huge range of security tokens through ICOs. Prime examples are the gold backed DigixDao (DGD) and CProp (still in crowd funding stage). A security token is fundamentally different from the currently available ICO project tokens in that it provides a legal and enforceable ownership of a company’s profits and voice in its governance much like common stock traded on any exchange. If security tokens are the next step in the evolution of crypto-finance, real estate, stocks, venture capital, and commodities can all be tokenized. The traditional markets could be fully connected to the Blockchain. Financial assets would available to anyone in the world, not just licensed or accredited investors. That is one aspect of Fintech, the financial revolution taking place today, as Blockchain technology clashes with traditional finance.
Equity Tokens
One exciting application of smart contracts on the Ethereum Network is the potential for startups to distribute equity tokens through initial coin offerings. That would reduce the hurdles that an average person has to face in order to take part in the early stages of a company’s development. And, democratic governance of a project could be conducted in a transparent manner through voting on the Blockchain. As of yet, few startups have attempted to conduct equity token sales for fear of falling afoul of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in the US. But many Venture Capital insiders are bullish on the prospect of equity tokens taking a central role in the crypto finance industry, when and as the legal issues are resolved. For example, the Delaware State legislature recently passed a bill enabling companies to maintain shareholder lists on the Blockchain. That is one major step to enable Blockchain based stock trading. Lawyers also generally believe it is only a matter of time before the regulations are clarified. Did you know? Important consideration: The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 made it unfeasibly expensive for smaller companies to be listed on exchanges, causing a halving in the number of IPOs between 1996 and 2016 (7322 to 3671). In 2017 there was an almost 5-fold increase in the number of ICOs, from 43 to 210, with the 2017 volume already being eclipsed in the first 5 months of 2018.
Utility Tokens
However, given that this area is still a regulatory nightmare for people planning to issue security and equity tokens, many projects attempt to ensure that the tokens within their specific model fall under the definition of Utility Tokens rather than securities, so as to avoid the SEC regulations altogether. If a token is imbued with a certain functionality and use within the Blockchain infrastructure of that particular project, the token can avoid being labelled as a security, and thus render SEC regulations inapplicable. Just this week in fact, the SEC made the long-awaited and momentous decision that Ether was not a security. In the words of William Hinman, director of the Securities and Exchange Commission division of corporate finance, “Putting aside the fundraising that accompanied the creation of Ether, based on my understanding of the present state of Ether, the Ethereum network and its decentralized structure, current offers and sales of Ether are not securities transactions.” This means that Ethereum, in fact, fails the Howey test, which is exactly the decision the crypto world wanted. Hinman said, “When the efforts of the third party are no longer a key factor for determining the enterprise’s success, material information asymmetries recede,” Hinman said. “The ability to identify an issuer or promoter to make the requisite disclosures becomes difficult, and less meaningful.” We will now cover various use cases that projects have been adopting up to now in order to get their tokens classified as utility tokens rather than securities.
Voting Rights
Some coins portray themselves as a company with tokens being held in a way that is analogous to voting shares of a stock. One coin held is equal to one vote. This form of token utility has a major flaw in that so-called whales (people with huge amounts of a particular cryptocurrency) can manipulate any poll conducted. The cryptocurrencies Aragon and Lykke are examples of projects that have written voting rights into the structure of their code. In-App Reward: Another common tactic to evade the security label has been the addition of in-app rewards to the functionality of a particular token. The Basic Attention Token (BAT) is the unit of currency for use with the project browser named “Brave”. The BAT is a unit of account for the advertisers, publishers and users of the platform. Filecoin, the cloud storage project that raised a record $257 million through their ICO, pays other people or companies for use of their spare storage space. Some of the many rights afforded to token holders in various Blockchain projects are described by the graphic below.
Token Roles Function
The token can be used as a mechanism through which user experience is enhanced, enabling such actions as connection with users, or joining a broader network. It may also be used as an incentive for beginning usage or for on-boarding. Examples include Dfinity and Steemit. Value Exchange: In its most basic usage, a token is a unit of value exchange within a specific app or market. This usually is made up of features that allow users to earn tokens through real work or passive work (sharing data, allowing use of storage space) and to spend them on services or internal functions within the specific market ecosystem created by that organization. Augur and KIK, amongst countless others, are projects that have implemented this functionality into their tokenomics. Toll: The token can also be used for getting onto the Blockchain infrastructure, or for powering decentralized applications run on that particular Blockchain. This ensures that users have “skin in the game”. Tolls can be derived from running smart contracts, paying a security deposit, or just usage fees. Examples include Bitcoin and Ethereum. Currency: Seeing as the particular platform or app is designed with a view towards functioning in synergy with a particular token, the token is an extremely efficient means of payment and transaction engine, resulting in frictionless transactions. This means that companies can become their own payment processors and no longer have to rely on the often unwieldy stages of conventional financial settlement involving trusted third parties in the form of banks and credit card companies.
Rights: Owning a token bequests certain rights upon the holder, such as product usage, voting, access to restricted markets, and dividends (e.g.: GAS for holding NEO). Though most businesses are trying to avoid fitting the definition of a security laid out in the Howey Test, the right to real ownership of a particular asset is sometimes granted as a result of holding a token, for example DigixDAO or Tezos.
Comparison to Traditional IPO and Equity Capital Raisings
Despite the similarity of the acronyms and the derivation of one from the other, Initial Coin Offerings and Initial Public Offerings are very different methods of fundraising. The distinction is not limited simply to the fact that IPOs are used in conventional business, and ICOs are associated with cryptocurrency. Through ICO’s, companies in their early stages issue digital tokens on a Blockchain and those tokens act as units of value for use within the ecosystem created by the project. They have many other uses, but it is also fair to say they are analogous to shares offered in an Initial Public offering.
In an IPO, shareholdings are distributed to investors through underwriters, usually investment banks. But in the case of ICO token sales, companies often do not even have an actual product to show. Often, all that there is a whitepaper, evidence of the partnerships involved and the particular social-media infrastructure they have established. IPO’s take place when a more well-established company floats shares on a stock exchange. The company would have a well-established history of success and significant reasons to expect a bright future. In the vast majority of cases, an ICO is used for a new company with no such history, just trying to get off the ground.
Another important difference is the expected return in exchange for the investment. Companies engaging in IPOs may offer participants dividend paying stocks which result in various levels of return depending on the success of the company after the shares are issued. An ICO however can offer no such guaranteed return. When buying tokens in an ICO, you do so with no promise of return. An investor who holds the tokens of a particular project does so with the promise, rather than an assurance, of future success. The main benefit to investors taking part in Initial Coin Offerings, compared to Initial Public Offerings, is the need for only basic Know Your Customer checks in the case of the ICO, compared to the costly, complex and time-consuming regulatory obstacles that must be traversed in an IPO. In the case of Initial Public Offerings, a business must obtain authorization from a number of entities before the act of “going public”. Prior to an IPO, companies are not obliged to disclose so much of their internal records or accounting. It is not so complicated to make a private company in the United States. But in the run up to going public, the company must form a board of directors, make their records auditable to the relevant authorities in one or more jurisdictions, and prepare to make quarterly reports to the SEC (or equivalent).
Relevant Factors to Consider in ICO process
When analyzing the chances of success for a specific project, and the likelihood of a favorable return on investment in the long term, it is essential to break down the project into its constituent parts, and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each part individually. An effective investigation and analysis would start with the team and white paper. Consider the stage the project is at,and VC investments in the project. That would lead to a good initial idea of the actual progress thus far. Next, evaluate the social media presence and the credentials of the community that has formed around the core team. If a compelling case is made by the team, (e.g.: via an in-depth dive into the use case), and the tokenomics, distribution schedule, potential competitors, as well as the team’s awareness of any future business or regulatory concerns all check out; then the ICO might present a good opportunity for investment. In the following slides we tackle each of these considerations in order so you will be able to evaluate an ICO’s worth and assign a grade for the success of each project.
Relevant Factors to Consider in ICO process
The Team First and most important, we need evaluate the background and experience of the team, the people involved in the project. Well-established developers, for example, will likely have LinkedIn profiles demonstrating their previous endeavors and occupations, from which we can judge their suitability to the project and the likelihood of the team’s success. The LinkedIn profile is a point of reference for professional accomplishments and official positions. But we can also learn more about a person from their personal accounts on Twitter, Facebook, and Medium etc. That is also a good way to follow along with the progress of the project. By investigating team members through as many means as possible, you will know how long they have been involved in cryptocurrency. If they have been around and active for a long time, they are that much more likely to be knowledgeable and capable of making better quality decisions in this business. It goes without saying that it is a huge red flag if it is too difficult to find information about the team members online, and worse still if the team members are anonymous.
Relevant Factors to Consider in ICO process
A good Whitepaper gives a detailed description of the project, the problems the team is going to solve, the timeframe projected, and methods to be used in the implementation of their ideas. If, in answering the question about what the project actually does, it seems the team is presenting ideas that are too complicated or advanced to understand, then you simply should not invest until you are satisfied you have been given the requisite level of insight to understand the concepts described. It is always possible that the whitepaper is nothing more than a salad of buzzwords and technical language intended to give the impression of competence while really doing nothing but obfuscate the truth. The whitepaper should clearly and concisely present the problems and the solutions needed. The whitepaper must give a solid and coherent answer as to who needs this project and why. Also, if the team have put no effort into explaining why a Blockchain solution is needed for this particular problem, or why such a solution is superior to its “real-world” equivalent, it is likely they are only in it for the money. We have more to say about red-flags later.
While 2016 raised a comparatively small amount in comparison to the proceeding years, there were a few specific projects that raised significant amounts of capital. These are respectable amounts of money, even by today’s standards, and especially impressive when contrasted with the immaturity of the ICO market at the time, and relative to amounts raised in traditional IPOs. Waves ($16.4mill), Iconomi ($10.6mill) and Golem ($8.6mill) were the three largest fundraisings of the year. 2017 was the year of the ICO whales. Hdac ($258mill), Filecoin ($257mill), EOS Stage 1 ($185mill) and Paragon ($183.16mill) were the largest that year. To be able to raise so much money, so quickly, in such a new market, using such a new mechanism is truly incredible. 2017 was the year that proved ICOs are for serious individuals and institutional investors as well. We have also had some phenomenal amounts raised so far in 2018. Telegram ($1.7bill), Dragon ($320mill), Huobi ($300mill) and Bankera ($150mill). Telegram might be the first mainstream example of an ICO, not only by raising close to $2billion, which would be beyond incredible and impressive even by traditional IPO standards; but also, because it is one of the first ICO companies to tangibly put a product in the hands of hundreds of millions of users, and successfully compete against traditional companies such as Facebook (MessengeWhatsApp), Microsoft (Skype) and Tencent (WeChat).
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