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!
Toronto wants to kill the smart city forever
The city wants to get right what Sidewalk Labs got so wrong.
Saudi Arabia plans to spend $1 billion a year discovering treatments to slow aging
The oil kingdom fears that its population is aging at an accelerated rate and hopes to test drugs to reverse the problem. First up might be the diabetes drug metformin.
Yann LeCun has a bold new vision for the future of AI
One of the godfathers of deep learning pulls together old ideas to sketch out a fresh path for AI, but raises as many questions as he answers.
The dark secret behind those cute AI-generated animal images
Google Brain has revealed its own image-making AI, called Imagen. But don't expect to see anything that isn't wholesome.
Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review
Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.