This Tuesday, Indiegogo expanded its repertoire of crowdfunding services when it began to serve as a platform for hosting and investing in ICOs. The decision to take the plunge into the multi-billion dollar ICO industry is a big step for the company.
A startup with the rather straightforward name “The Fan-Controlled Football League” is the first company to use Indiegogo as the host for its ICO. With the $5 million that it hopes to raise through its ICO, the company will form its own league of American football teams that use crowd-sourced wisdom to choose players.
It may be that Indiegogo has come a bit late to the party. According to reports from cryptofinance research firm Smith + Crown, only 69 of the 169 ICOs that took place in the month of October were able to reach their fundraising goals in time. The rest were forced to postpone, extend, or even cancel their sales.
In addition to market saturation, there has been a massive amount of skepticism surrounding ICOs in the wake of a continuing stream of ICO-related scams or mishandling of funds raised. The Confido ICO was recently dubbed an ‘exit scam’ after all online traces of the company vanished. Tezos’ dramatic saga of accusations and infighting between founders has attracted three class-action lawsuits seeking to retrieve funds that investors contributed to the ICO.
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Earlier this week, the SEC issued a statement warning institutional and individual investors of the risks associated with ICO participation, although it did not condemn the practice outright. The SEC has also been cracking down on companies who misrepresent the status of the tokens that are sold during ICOs as securities (or not). On December 11, the SEC forced the Munchee ICO to halt after it was decided that Munchee’s tokens were indeed securities, and not utilities, as it had claimed.
Indiegogo Could Contribute to a Healthier ICO Culture
On the other hand, the inclusion of ICOs on such a mainstream platform may be a good thing for the practice as well as Indiegogo. In a NYTimes report, Indiegogo co-founder Slava Rubin said: “We want to bring a brand of trust to the entire industry, which we think will bring ICOs to the mainstream.”
Indeed, Smith + Crown said while some of the “cooling off” of the ICO scene could be attributed to market saturation, it could also be “a clear sign of a rational market where investors are not motivated exclusively by greed or fear of missing out.” In other words, the ICO market may be maturing; its investors are becoming more discerning.
If Indiegogo is able to successfully vet the ICOs that it chooses to host so that their corresponding companies consistently run above-board operations that bring solid revenue to investors, the whole ICO ecosystem could benefit. According to Indiegogo, the vetting process will be “rigorous”, with “Expert Whitepaper review by Indiegogo, MicroVentures, leading securities & cryptocurrency law firms.”
So far this year, the ICOs have brought in over $3 billion to their investors. According to the CoinDesk ICO tracker, $743 million of that was raised in November alone. In September, Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin said: “In the long run, the [ICO] market will need to find a way to judge which projects make sense and what their appropriate worth is.” Indiegogo’s new platform could just be one of those ways.