Token Launches Appear Broken. Can They Be Fixed?

By Michael @ CryptoEQ | CryptoEQ | 20 May 2024

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Venture capital (VC) has long driven early-stage technological innovation, providing critical capital that accelerates product development. However, this approach often minimizes the communities that these products are meant to serve. The rise of cryptocurrency, characterized by its permissionless, composable, and decentralized nature, presents an opportunity to rethink capital formation. Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs), despite their early promise and subsequent regulatory scrutiny, highlighted the potential for community-centric funding mechanisms.

The Role of Venture Capital in Crypto

Venture capital remains a powerful mechanism for financing innovation, injecting substantial capital into founders' hands to develop groundbreaking products and technologies. Many fundraising rounds have led to tangible changes in the world. However, high valuations often limit community involvement, which is crucial for the long-term success of decentralized networks.

VC involvement is necessary for early-stage projects on the cutting edge. Nonetheless, the focus on returns over longevity risks undermining the communities essential for the success of these projects. Community members and smaller retail investors, rather than private funds, are critical to the future of any network. Decentralization relies on the active participation of both community and builders.

The Evolution of Crypto Funding Mechanisms

In 2017, ICOs emerged as a revolutionary funding method, capturing significant investor interest. Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) represent a pivotal shift in how new ventures access capital, paralleling Initial Public Offerings (IPOs) but within the cryptocurrency domain. An ICO facilitates direct fundraising by selling tokens that often confer various rights within the project's ecosystem, ranging from ownership to profit-sharing and voting privileges. Unlike IPOs that issue new shares, ICOs allocate existing tokens, providing a streamlined mechanism unburdened by regulatory lag, thus presenting an attractive, albeit risky, investment frontier.

The 2018 bear market, however, saw many projects and their tokens collapse, leading to heightened scrutiny from the public, institutions, and regulators. This downturn diminished public retail funding for decentralized technologies, paving the way for the resurgence of traditional VC structures.

Democratized Funding

Crypto bootstrapping can exist beyond traditional funding routes, with low barriers to entry enabling rapid innovation. A powerful idea, supported by smart contracts, can disrupt legacy systems. Crypto projects leverage open-source knowledge, allowing for high leverage from a human capital perspective. Traditional companies scale linearly, while crypto projects can achieve exponential growth with minimal resources.

ICOs were an effective capital formation mechanism, decentralizing networks early and reducing ownership concentration. Despite some failures, ICOs performed better than traditional VC investments, with fewer projects going to zero. The transparency of liquid markets allows for visible failures, unlike the opaque outcomes of traditional VC funding.

Intermittent funding mechanisms, such as Initial DEX Offerings (IDOs) and Initial Exchange Offerings (IEOs), were also explored. Yet, negative public perception of ICOs pushed crypto financing towards private rounds, sidelining the broader community. Today's crypto financing mirrors traditional venture investing, following a sequence from Seed to Series A, B, and finally, token launch.

Distributed Token Launch (DTL)

The core focus of DTL is distributing tokens and technology to real users rather than speculators. Ideally, no financial capital is involved initially. Tokens could be distributed through airdrops, contributions to open-source projects, or tasks completed on community platforms. This approach prioritizes talent attraction and ecosystem development from day one.

Token grants should attract builders and talent to the project immediately rather than locking funds in ecosystem grants. This strategy aligns incentives from the outset, promoting active development and engagement.

Regulatory Dynamics and Market Adaptations

Historically, the rapid adoption of ICOs has prompted stringent regulatory responses, particularly in the U.S., Europe, and Asia, leading to significant market evolution. In response, cryptocurrency exchanges have developed variations on the ICO theme, notably Initial Exchange Offerings (IEOs) and Initial DEX Offerings (IDOs). IEOs, conducted on centralized exchanges, and IDOs, which operate via decentralized platforms using smart contracts, both aim to mitigate regulatory barriers yet introduce their own sets of challenges. This adaptation underscores the industry’s responsiveness to evolving regulatory landscapes while striving for greater transparency and investor protection.

The Future Trajectory of Token Launches

The trajectory of token launches continues to evolve, driven by the need for fairness and community engagement in project governance. The emerging models emphasize strategic, balanced distributions to prevent concentration of control and ensure a decentralized governance structure. Fair launches are becoming more critical, not only for ethical reasons but also for enhancing project credibility and long-term viability.

In summary, as the cryptocurrency landscape matures, the emphasis on fair, transparent, and regulatory-compliant token launches is likely to dominate the discourse. This evolution reflects a broader shift towards more sustainable and community-focused financial technologies, underpinning the fundamental principles of the broader blockchain ecosystem.

Liquidity Bootstrapping Pools: Enhancing Market Fairness

A deeper understanding of Decentralized Finance (DeFi) reveals Automated Market Makers (AMMs) as a cornerstone, facilitating efficient, decentralized trading. AMMs allow liquidity provision through token pools, adhering to a constant product formula to maintain price stability. Despite their utility, AMMs are susceptible to issues such as limited liquidity provision, high fraud risk, and exposure to impermanent loss.

Addressing these challenges are Liquidity Bootstrapping Pools (LBPs), which offer a novel approach for emerging projects to launch tokens using minimal capital. LBPs are particularly designed to prevent early market manipulation by setting an initial high token price that gradually decreases, allowing for a more equitable price discovery process. This mechanism ensures a fairer distribution and enhances long-term project sustainability by deterring price manipulation and fostering a more inclusive governance structure.


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Michael @ CryptoEQ
Michael @ CryptoEQ

I am a Co-Founder and Lead Analyst at CryptoEQ. Gain the market insights you need to grow your cryptocurrency portfolio. Our team's supportive and interactive approach helps you refine your crypto investing and trading strategies.


Gain the market insights you need to grow your cryptocurrency portfolio. Our team's supportive and interactive approach helps you refine your crypto investing and trading strategies.

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