Initial Coin Offering or ICO refers to the creation of digital token and sale of digital tokens allowing investors to support new initiatives using cryptocurrency and principles of crowdfunding. A token is usually in exchange for other cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin or ether.
The first token sales appeared in 2014 when seven projects raised a total of $30 million. The largest that year was ethereum – over 50 million ethers were created and sold to the public, raising over $18 million. 2015 was a quieter year: Seven sales raised a total of $9 million, with the largest – Augur – collecting just over $5 million. Activity started to pick up in 2016 when 43 sales – including Waves, Iconomi, Golem, and Lisk – raised $256 million. 2017 saw an explosion of activity – 342 token issuances raised almost $5.4 billion – and thrust the concept to the forefront of blockchain innovation.
During an ICO’s crowdsale, participants purchase project-specific cryptocurrency tokens (or “ICO coins”) as a form of investment in the company. Just like an IPO, an ICO represents the first stage of a project going public.
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