What the hell is an initial coin offering? If you’re baffled by the rise of the buzzy, blockchain-based fundraising method, you aren’t alone. Investors, entrepreneurs, and policymakers across the globe are still trying to figure out what an ICO is, too.
A few things are clear, though. First, while an ICO is a bit like an initial public offering, from which its name derives, it’s also something else entirely new—it’s an opportunity for investors to buy a stake in a new venture, but what’s the venture?
That leads to the second thing we know: the definition of an ICO is far from settled. The process of creating a new cryptocurrency and then selling it to investors in order to raise money for development work is evolving quickly, thanks to a combination of regulatory pressure and technological innovation. Even so, ICOs have raised huge amounts of cash: more than $23 billion since 2014. An animation put together by the blockchain data analysis firm Elementus, above, shows just how explosive the field has been so far. As for what happens next? Well, let’s just say you can expect more fireworks.
Keep up with the fast-moving and sometimes baffling world of cryptocurrencies and blockchains with our twice-weekly newsletter Chain Letter. Subscribe here. It’s free!
The inside story of how ChatGPT was built from the people who made it
Exclusive conversations that take us behind the scenes of a cultural phenomenon.
How Rust went from a side project to the world’s most-loved programming language
For decades, coders wrote critical systems in C and C++. Now they turn to Rust.
Design thinking was supposed to fix the world. Where did it go wrong?
An approach that promised to democratize design may have done the opposite.
Sam Altman invested $180 million into a company trying to delay death
Can anti-aging breakthroughs add 10 healthy years to the human life span? The CEO of OpenAI is paying to find out.
Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review
Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.