Blockchain is a game changer. Some people might have cottoned on to the fact much later than others, but we are finally going full steam ahead with blockchain adoption. IBM has its own blockchain, many other companies and organizations are experimenting with using blockchain in truly innovative ways – it is the future, today.
ICOs are just one of the ways that blockchain has been able to change the way the world work. Financing has always been the realm of large, blue-chip institutions and it wasn't until blockchain came around that the democratization of startup financing finally arrived.
However, there have been problems along the way, and the hype that got a hold of the industry in early 2017 paved the way for a burst bubble extremely similar to the dotcom crash of the late 90s. There have been a few distinct eras in the evolution of ICOs, and it begins with the first ICO to make itself known back in 2013.
Things moved along under the radar until Ethereum burst on to the scene and the hype started building. It paved the way for something many are calling "The Year of the Whitepaper." This was the landscape in 2017, and it was... reminiscent of the dotcom boom when people were given money hand over fist for catchy and easy to remember domain names like pets.com. No business pan to speak of, but millions were thrown at people who owned lucrative domains.
2017 was similar in many ways. New investors flooded the marketplace, and you were able to sell anything under the sun with a decent White Paper. All you really needed to do was mention "decentralized" and "undetermined" and people would throw money at you. Companies selling virtual cats raised almost $7 million dollars. An iced tea company wedged blockchain into its name and saw it's stock catapult 200% overnight.
Companies that had great ideas, but no way to implement them were all the rage. A blockchain alternative to Airbnb raised $15 million. The problem was that at the same time Airbnb raised over a billion dollars and was at the time valued at over 31 billion dollars. Noble ideas, but a futile attempt at competing with a giant. What 2017 did give us was important though – it showed just how creative you could get with blockchain – and the thinking behind many companies has been filtered into larger companies that began to look more closely at blockchain as a solution to problems that they have had for a long time.
This is the year that ICOs finally burst. Despite raising more money in the first four months of 2018 than in the whole of the previous year, ICOs faced up to the bad reputation that was brought about by scammers and companies with horrifically bad business plans.
This massive trend to flushing out the scammers helped sober up the industry and kept it on a more sustainable path. There really is no need to have a micro-payment platform for every community in the world. Influencer marketing doesn't actually have to have a blockchain equivalent. Maybe you shouldn't have invested in that virtual cat company.
Crypto Whales bought and then dumped token en masse that caused a massive loss for many other investors, which leads to our current time.
Today the landscape is very different. Investors require any project that is asking for money to have a clear purpose, to commit to the right protocol for what they want to do and to have a definitive product. Business fundamentals are expected to be robust, and teams have to include graduates that have experience in the industry, not just technology.
It's a new dawn, and it was brought along by trial and error, yet the future looks brighter for those that take it seriously.
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