Reality ImageICO projects rarely evolve in a straight line while going from launch to market. As I made the case in Part I of this 2-part series, The Darkness Side and Long Honeymoons of Token Sales; shortly after a token sales launch, most of them quick enter a Darkness stage.

Along the journey to the market rollout reality, there is an interim step,- a Transitional period where early signs of market acceptance and usage begin to appear, but clarity on the product-to-market fit or plain availability hasn’t necessarily taken hold yet.

The reality is … few ICOs are in the market reality stage.

At the Token Summit last month in New York (videos are now posted here), I introduced for the first time my Tokens Launch-to-Reality Quadricle (SM), a take on Gartner’s Magic Quadrant depiction of players positions within a given segment. In light of the current volatility in cryptocurrency prices and perceived hype in some ICO valuations, how do you know where each project is, really?

Below is the latest version of my Quadricle, placing some ICOs where I feel they belong, based on what I know, market analysis, and sometimes direct talks with these companies.

The other reality is that many of them are in the darkness stages now, even if they have high valuations.

Token Reality Quadricle 1..1 by William Mougayar

Here are the characteristics and guideposts I used, in order to slot these token-based companies. At least one or several of these conditions typically exist for each stage.


  • No demonstrable product yet
  • White paper may still be in revision modes
  • Team just came out of a heavily promoted token sale with little attention on the product itself
  • No indication of users, customers, networks usage
  • Lots of social and blogging about what will be done, as the main activity
  • Some Github activity
  • Active Slack channels
  • Protocol or app are not deployed yet
  • More partners than users/developers


  • A working demo (not smoke and mirrors or simulations)
  • Credible signs of imminent market launch
  • Credible signs and data about a beta product that might be working well on a testnet
  • Early beta/test users, customers, developers
  • External signs of support as evidenced by usage
  • Has announced when the live date will be, and working towards it
  • Increased & regular Github activity
  • Testimonials from early users


Note: The bar is very high to get placed in the Reality Quadricle.

  • Visible, credible and tangible signs of: an ecosystem, users, customers, traction, engagement, signups, daily/monthly active users, developers adoption, ancillary services, transaction volumes, and any other real metric that the project has publicly shared, or as evidenced by market entry.
  • Value to the market is in production stage
  • Signs of real growth

Typical Paths to Get There

There are 3 different ways to arrive at the Reality Quadricle.

Path A: Launch-Transition-Reality

This is the most desirable path. Projects can skip the darkness period if they launch their tokens when the product is almost ready, as they enables them to focus almost entirely on the transitional elements in a credible way.

Path B: Launch-Darkness-Transition-Reality

This path is also acceptable, as long as the darkness period doesn’t last more than 6-9 months. If the project isn’t able to show credible signs of transition past 6 months, typically it is not a good sign of things to come, due to loss of momentum, but there are exceptions.

Path C: Launch-Darkness-Darkness

Some projects will remain in the darkness period for a long time, while they attempt to get out of it. Given that some of these projects have raised a lot of money, and have benefited by the rising tides in higher valuations, they could theoretically stay in the darkness for a long time, and continue giving fake or vanity signals about their activities. The longer a company stays in the darkness period, the harder it becomes to get out of it (based on anecdotal evidence).

End Notes and Disclaimer

Being in the reality quadricle does not represent an endorsement from my side. It just says that we have more data now to judge.

I have not evaluated all of the tokens listed on CoinMarketCap or CryptoCompare, but chose a representative sample that I was familiar with. I will be updating this quadricle on a regular basis. The permanent location for this Quadricle model will be on this Slideshare location.

If some ICO projects feel they were not placed in the right quadricle, please email me evidence and data to back-up the desired change request. I’m sure I’ll get a lot of emails from ICOs I have placed in the darkness segment, but I’m keeping an open mind for changes. (my email is

 At the time of writing, I was a holder of ETH, BTC, ETC, BAT, SJCX, STEEM, SIA, ICN.]]>