It is not a secret that I am big fan and proponent of Ethereum, given my long history with the project, so I tweeted this, yesterday:
And I am a big fan of the token sales model, as I believe it will fund the next wave of blockchain innovation, of the permissionless type.
The Ethereum ecosystem is the new virtual Silicon Valley, funding innovation and startups from an abundance of crypto capital gains.— William Mougayar (@wmougayar) June 11, 2017
However, as I sensed that the imminent bombastic ICO that Bancor had been meticulously planning for months, might have some unexpected surprises, I posted this row of tweets yesterday:
With Token-based sales, we are now seeing from the vanilla to the exotic ICO types and terms. I’m bracing myself for tomorrow.— William Mougayar (@wmougayar) June 11, 2017
The exotic reference was related to Bancor’s token sale terms which contained some pretty convoluted and somehow incomprehensible terms that didn’t add up. I don’t have time to go through the details, but just look for holes and innuendos, and you will see plenty of them.
Of course, I’m not a fan of the rapid fire token sale. What for? Not the least reason being that blockchain networks still aren’t able to withstand a rush of transaction traffic without choking. Short timeframe ICOs tend to favor the astute investor that can figure out how to pull the trigger faster than the average consumer who will be left in the dust. Yes, the Bancor team did let a few small consumer transactions through, so they can appear to have been equitable. The reality is that many more couldn’t get their transactions to come full circle for a variety of reasons.
Then, I sensed that the Bancor token sale was going to break new records while showing some ICO bravado, so I tweeted this:
Nothing good comes from rushing. 30-sec, 15min, 1hr ICOs not a best practice. Engineer token sales for distribution, not artificial demand.— William Mougayar (@wmougayar) June 11, 2017
XYZ ICO raised $BIG_NUMBER in SMALL_NUMBER seconds is new vanity metric of token sales era. It doesn’t mean a thing except sales prowess.— William Mougayar (@wmougayar) June 12, 2017
The above tweets were posted prior to the Bancor token sale start. Then the Bancor sale happened…faster than a long lunch. You can sense my sarcasm here:
Congrats to @BancorNetwork for re-igniting fears of hype and greed in token sales & automagically stopping once the DAO record was eclipsed.— William Mougayar (@wmougayar) June 12, 2017
Indeed, June 12 2017 was almost to the day, a year after the DAO fiasco started unfolding (on June 17th 2016), and it’s interesting to note that Bancor broke the DAO record by a hair, on a reported $153M raise vs. the DAO’s $150M last year. There it was: a new record was achieved. In dollars it was, but not otherwise. The DAO raised 11 million ETH, or 13% of the ETH supply vs. Bancor’s 397,720 ETH which is .43% of today’s ETH supply.
Following that tweet, I received a threatening email from one of the Bancor team member that I had turned down as a speaker at the Token Summit, because we didn’t want hype at the conference.
Here are my other thoughts on the Bancor token sale.
The token sale, pre-sale, and overall campaign were extremely well executed and marketed. If you want to learn how to dress-up a website to make it look good, and how to fire on all communications cylinders, go talk to the Bancor team, or just reverse engineer their steps. They have done a great job with it, and outdid everything I have seen so far. Their pre-ICO campaign was impeccably well co-ordinated from a timing point of view, although it was overly communicated, to the point of saturation and annoying loudness, including self-pompous blog posts, and Barney types of partnership announcements (I love you, You love me).
Some fumbles. They changed terms, rules, processes as they went along, and gave excuses for them. The one-hour minimum was extended, supposedly by another 2 hours, but then cut short after 1.5 hours. Even the total number of BTN raised was erroneously displayed on their website as being 397.7 million, then corrected to be 39.7 million.
A hidden cap is not a good idea. It gives the sense of an accompanying hidden agenda. Investors don’t know what they are getting into.
This wasn’t a single company ICO. Given the gargantuan amount raised, it resembled more of an ecosystem end-run raise. Bancor’s ambitions are systemic and paradigm shifting, if they succeed at reaching their vision. I have my doubts, because I don’t believe that we need to facilitate the creation of thousands, if not millions of tokens without due regard to their quality or linkage to actual value and business model, as I’ve explained in my last post on Tokenomics. Bancor wants to let anyone create a token for anything they want.
Overall, the Bancor ICO pushed the limits of what’s possible in today’s permissionless blockchain innovation environment. Permissionless doesn’t mean absurdness, nor recklessness. They didn’t break any laws (because there are no hard laws yet in tokenland), but they didn’t establish best practices either.
The credibility of the Bancor ICO leaves a lot to be desired due their slam dunk execution style that flew in the face of a permissionless environment that was quite forgiving, as long as excesses didn’t occur.
Despite being humbled by their “historic” coup, it is hard to give them my sympathies. However, I wish them luck in the market, and in proving me wrong, by being successful at getting users engaged with their platform.]]>