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!
DeepMind’s cofounder: Generative AI is just a phase. What’s next is interactive AI.
“This is a profound moment in the history of technology,” says Mustafa Suleyman.
What to know about this autumn’s covid vaccines
New variants will pose a challenge, but early signs suggest the shots will still boost antibody responses.
Human-plus-AI solutions mitigate security threats
With the right human oversight, emerging technologies like artificial intelligence can help keep business and customer data secure
Next slide, please: A brief history of the corporate presentation
From million-dollar slide shows to Steve Jobs’s introduction of the iPhone, a bit of show business never hurt plain old business.
Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review
Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.