With the sheaf of disparate startups coming up to light, it’s getting tougher to detect the genuine ones. Jason Cohen had once quoted, “It’s more effective to do something valuable than to hope a logo or name will say it for you.” Hence, we cannot judge or comment upon a company’s progress solely depending upon its hype or revenue generation.
To know where a company stands, it’s necessary to take into account a bunch of other offbeat factors furthermore. The funding, business model, ideas, team, and timing are the factors which hold the potential to make the startup revolutionize a marketplace thereby leaving a lasting impact. The investors need to make sure they are investing in experience. They need to find people smarter than themselves.
A startup that is comfortable with any kind of change and has all its hands on the deck to execute its vision is more or less unfeigned. There are many Initial Coin Offerings going on in the market today. Only a quarter of the ongoing year is left, so let’s quickly have a look at the funds already raised by the ICOs of 2020.
Image credits: Crowd Fund Insider
Research credits: ICO Data
It’s quite hapless to note the wretched state of the ICOs this year. As we can see from the monthly-recorded chart above, the funds raised by the ICOs have declined from about $1.423 billion in January 2018 to approximately $533 million in April 2018.
The Assumed Why
Talking of the most successful ICOs, there are startups to have raised over billions in a minute! That is how crazy the world of ICOs is. There is no doubt that ICOs have changed the financial landscape over the past 2 years.
However, these farcical success booms have just made us look over the facts through a rose-tinted glass. Factually understating, about 99% of the ICOs taking place, tend to fail. Last December, the value of bitcoins soared to 20,000 USD, following which the price was dropped by 70% in the initial months of 2018.
The Greater Fool Theory economically states that the price of an object increases not because of the value that it brings in but because of the irrational beliefs attached to it. Applying the same to ICOs, you have a bunch of decentralized applications and currencies coming up which are bringing in nothing new to the ecosystem.
However, because they have been hyped up so much and there are so many ignorant investors around, their value increases anyway, and furthermore, the tokens face inflation. The reason why most ICOs fail is that most developers/entrepreneurs do not pay any attention to the three pillars that make an ICO:
ICO Data also says, “In most cases, the tokens or coins being sold are for platforms and businesses that are yet to be fully built, or even worse, exist only as an idea.”
The entry of Altcoins
Back in December 2017, the value of bitcoins soaring to a 20,000 USD, led to a steep drop in its price by 70% which affected the initial months of 2018. As a result, a lot of altcoins started being issued through the ICOs.
Although altcoins or alternative coins resemble Bitcoin in the way they’re designed, most of them serve a different purpose than just being a financial tool. The vast majority of altcoins doesn’t do anything special at all as they just try to mimic a Bitcoin with little tweaks. Some, on the other hand, has been designed with a purpose of becoming a worldwide computer and can be used as a platform for building decentralized applications.
Many critics have contended that these altcoins can be easily manipulated on exchanges as they are created in a small supply at the beginning of the ICOs. This manipulation is generally done by the founders who entrusted to the pre-ICO period or by the early eminent buyers.
Ultimately when the coins hit the exchanges, the founders and other early investors are known to have blatantly washed the traded the tokens back and forth between themselves under minimal regulations, thereby kicking off a pump to create an illusion of demand for the coins. Some founders can easily disburse the funds raised in ICOs on some hype-creating campaigns instead of on the actual product development.
Coin founders build the social media hype before releasing the coins onto exchanges. Many ICOs state that the startup holds zero obligations to its investors. VitalikButerin, the inventor of the most used altcoinEthereum, proposed an improved model of ICOs in January called the DAICOs. DAICO models enshrine greater investor involvement, a gradual release of investor funds to companies and powerful voting rights.
Unfortunately, scarcely some companies have opted to do DAICOs in place of ICOs. Numerous experienced cryptocurrency influencers are trying to make more companies adopt this new model. This might help overcome the already discussed wretched state of the ICOs.
Kevin Roose has quoted the following in New York Times to reveal his opinion about the operation of ICOs:
“If you’re having trouble picturing it: Imagine that a friend is building a casino and asks you to invest. In exchange, you get chips that can be used at the casino’s tables once it’s finished. Now imagine that the value of the chips isn’t fixed, and will instead fluctuate depending on the popularity of the casino, the number of other gamblers and the regulatory environment for casinos.
Oh, and instead of a friend, imagine it’s a stranger on the internet who might be using a fake name, who might not actually know how to build a casino, and whom you probably can’t sue for fraud if he steals your money and uses it to buy a Porsche instead. That’s an ICO.”
Cost goes before the profit. A wise man once said, “The rich invest in time, the poor invest in money”. Take time if required. But never fail to choose the right ICO to invest on.
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Even though cryptocurrencies are still catching on slowly, they have been around for quite a long time. For more than a decade, these digital currencies have been used for various kinds of financial transactions and are still being used.
There are different types of cryptocurrencies in the blockchain market, all with different values, made by very different firms and run on different frameworks. Typically, they all run on blockchain technology but the two largest assets in the market which are Bitcoin and Ether, run on their own different chains.
However, it’s important to note that just like cryptocurrency is just one use of blockchain technology, Ethereum is more than just a cryptocurrency.
Ethereum is a major distributed and public blockchain network. The Ethereum blockchain allows decentralized applications (dApps) to be built on it and primarily focuses on running code for these apps. The token used within the Ethereum network is known as Ether and its creation process is a bit different from that of Bitcoin.
The Ethereum blockchain is also different because it gives developers the freewill to do pretty much anything they want because even though most blockchains are considerably limited, the Ethereum chain isn’t. This means that developers can go above and beyond, building a gazillion and one apps as they see fit.
Publicly, the Ethereum journey began in November of 2013 when Russian–Canadian writer and programmer, Vitalik Buterin, first published the Ethereum whitepaper. About two months after that, the official development of the network was announced and the initial team included Vitalik Buterin, Charles Hoskinson, Anthony Di Iorio and Mihai Alisie. This began a process of development and also an ICO which ended in August 2014 and successfully raised $18.4 million.
Before Ethereum was developed, there were significant limitations to the usage of blockchain applications. A good example is the Bitcoin blockchain that was initially developed for Bitcoin to strictly be a peer-to-peer cryptocurrency. This was a huge problem for most developers at the time because there was a lot more that they wanted to do. The two options available, starting with the most tedious and less time-effective one was to find a way to develop and expand the Bitcoin network so it could accommodate a lot more. The other option was to create a whole new blockchain that will be a lot less limited than its predecessors. This option was quickly picked up by Vitalik Buterin and the development for Ethereum began.
“I thought [they] weren’t approaching the problem in the right way. I thought they were going after individual applications; they were trying to kind of explicitly support each [use case] in a sort of Swiss Army knife protocol.”
This is a software built on the Ethereum network and which solved a lot of problems. Basically, EVM allows any developer to easily create any run any program they want, without having to worry about the programming language used. The EVM also simplified the process of creating applications and made it even more effective and efficient. So, there was no longer any need for a new blockchain to be built as this solution allowed as many development projects as possible, be built on the same network.
The process of producing Ether is a bit different from how Bitcoin is mined on the Bitcoin blockchain. On the Ethereum blockchain, miners do work to earn Ether instead of exactly mining for it. Ether, serves on its own, as a kind of fuel for the Ethereum network. Ether is also generally what is used by developers who create applications on the network a payment for charges and services.
Apart from Ether, there is another type of token that is used on the Ethereum network. This token is called Gas and it is used as payment for miners. When an Ether transaction is initiated, a gas fee is set along with it which is basically a fee paid to the miners so that they can include that particular transaction on that block, for the blockchain. The higher the gas set for an Ether transaction the faster the transaction is executed and then completed.
One major use of Ethereum is its ability to easily build decentralized applications. Shortened as dApps, these apps all serve different purposes but their decentralized nature means that they are not exactly controlled by any one individual, institution or entity. The decentralised nature of these apps help increase the amount of trust it garners because people know that because they are on the network and are public, they are not easily manipulated.
Another use is the creation of a Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO). These organizations are basically run by a programming code and built on the Ethereum network. Also their decentralized nature means there isn’t any one leader and so no one is in control. DAOs have tokens and these organisations are jointly owned by anyone who purchases these tokens.
Over the years, many people have noticed that the idea of money, as we know it today, has quite a few inherent flaws. There are too many limitations to it and too many different governmental bodies all over the world controlling its creation, value and also regulating its usage and movement.
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The average person has to jump through hoops of a million different shapes and sizes to successfully send funds across international borders. This is because of all the regulations that govern financial transactions either individually in a country, or internationally as a region. There has always been a great need to solve this problem to ease cross-border payments, whether they are for the business of personal. One major solution to this is cryptocurrency.
Bitcoin is the first decentralized cryptocurrency ever developed. It is a form of electronic cash or digital money that is completely deregulated without any sole administrator or central bank. Bitcoin can be sent directly from one user to another completely without any interference or required middlemen.
It was created sometime in 2009 by a person or a group of persons known as Satoshi Nakamoto. Even though the asset is about a decade old, the identity or identities of Satoshi is still unknown. A few people have come out with claims that they are the real Satoshi but most of their claims have been debunked.
Bitcoin (and all other cryptocurrencies) currently require a public, distributed ledger to function. This ledger is called a blockchain and records of all confirmed transactions can be found on a blockchain. Basically, every kind of Bitcoin transaction ever carried out is powered by the Bitcoin blockchain and is recorded, unalterable and irreversible. This presents a level of security that was hitherto unavailable with traditional transactions. The blockchain is a tightly run technology created with very strong cryptography.
A Bitcoin wallet is simply a digital, virtual wallet that holds your bitcoin. All other cryptocurrencies also have wallets and these wallets are created specifically to hold the crypto. A Bitcoin wallet always has an address and this address is what is used to send or receive Bitcoin. A Bitcoin address is usually a long set of characters including numbers and letters and just as no two people can have the same traditional account number with a bank, no two Bitcoin wallets can have the exact same address.
One of the most fantastic reasons for the use of Bitcoin or any other crypto is the level of autonomy it offers. The biggest problem with regular and traditional legal tender is how much trust is required for the system to run properly. This leaves it open, expensive and most of all, very prone to exploitation. Bitcoin easily solves this problem because not only can all transactions be verified, it’s impossible to make counterfeits on the blockchain due to its decentralization.
As stated earlier, every Bitcoin transaction gets recorded in the blockchain. Because of the security requirements for the blockchain, every Bitcoin wallet must have a secret signature called a private key. This private key is used to sign each transaction as a way of showing precise proof that the transaction was actually originated from the wallet’s real owner.
Mining is a complex decentralized computational process that basically fulfils two needs.
The process of mining, unlike before, can now only be done with very specific and powerful computers and there are millions of miners all over the world who are constantly doing this at any given point in time.
It’s very important to note here that only 21 million Bitcoins will ever be mined. The only solution for this is to change the protocol of the Bitcoin blockchain. This protocol was done to control how much Bitcoin is produced to keep it valuable but it is now thought that when that peak is reached, a lot of problems, especially with scaling, may now rear its head.
Until something about the Bitcoin protocol is hanged, mining of new coins will stop after 21 million Bitcoins have been mined.