NEW YORK, January 16, 2018 /PRNewswire/ --
Bitcoin was a major topic of conversation among investors in 2017, but it wasn't the only cryptocurrency related investment that garnered investors' attention in the blockchain space. In 2017 alone, there were 235 Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) completed, which raised a total of $3.7 billion dollars, and 2018 is shaping up to be the year of ICOs. ICOs are a way for blockchain start-up companies to gain funding for projects. Instead of offering shares of a company to its investors, they offer a certain amount of cryptocurrency. Some companies that stand to benefit from the influx of funding to ICOs include Victory Square Technologies, Inc. (CSE: VST) (OTC: VSQTF) (FWB: 6F6) (VSQTF Profile), Eastman Kodak Company (NYSE: KODK), Helios, Matheson Analytics (NASDAQ: HMNY), Glance Technologies (CSE: GET), and Social Reality, Inc. (NASDAQ: SRAX).
In 2017, there were a number of ICO success stories. The most notable is Filecoin, a blockchain data storage network project, which raised $200 million in just 60 minutes in mid-August. The ICO named Status raised $100 million in just 24 hours, and in six months brought its investors a +1,521% return. Cobinhood (COB), a zero-trading fee cryptocurrency exchange platform, just recently closed its ICO which raised over $13 million.
There's good reason to believe that 2018 could be a strong year for ICOs. In 2017, ICOs were unregulated, but this looks set to change in 2018. The Gibraltar Blockchain Exchange (GBX) announced plans to launch its own ICO called "rock token" (RKT) in February 2018, and has already sold $21 million in its pre-sale. GBX plans to use those funds to develop the world's first licensed and regulated token sale platform. This development will add a level of legitimacy that the ICO industry badly needs to attract mainstream investors who remain skeptical of ICOs.
In an unregulated ICO market, selecting an ICO to invest in has proven to be extremely difficult. There's estimated to be 30 different ICOs that close each month, each with their own intricacies. Unfortunately, there have been a few companies who have taken advantage of the lack of regulation, simply taking the funds raised and running without starting the project. Investors, up until now, have faced the challenge of figuring out which fundraising projects are real, and will provide positive returns.
To avoid the uncertainty of choosing specific ICOs, investors are beginning to look to companies that have established portfolios of strong ICO investments. One such company, Victory Square Technologies Inc. (CSE: VST) (OTC: VSQTF) (FWB: 6F6), invests in cryptocurrency related assets, including ICOs, cryptocurrencies, and blockchain startups. Located in Vancouver, B.C., Canada, Victory Square invests, incubates, and mentors developing blockchain companies and has a strong track record of finding and investing in high-return ICOs. Victory Square was recently invited to participate in an exclusive early contributors round for Bluzelle, a decentralized database service where users have the ability to rent out computer storage space in exchange for a token.
In total, Victory Square has researched and invested in 12 mainstream cryptocurrencies and ICOs, and holds a portfolio of smaller coins. To date, Victory Square has invested nearly $2 million towards ICOs and cryptocurrencies, with its biggest focus on four specific ICOs. Neuromation sold out of its 60 million Neurotoken (NTK) after just 8 hours of a public sale a few days ago, bringing in $50 million. As mentioned above, Bluzelle is set to be potentially the most promising ICO in 2018 and Victory Square has announced that they will be purchasing a $500,000 allocation of Bluzelle tokens (BLZ) with an additional 25% bonus tokens given to early contributors. Victory Square also contributed $150,000 to the Gibraltar Blockchain Exchange's rock token. Victory Square has generated a positive return on investment (ROI) on all of the coins it has invested in, with a total token portfolio ROI of over 1000%.
Victory Square's strategy of identifying attractive ICO and cryptocurrency investments relies heavily on building partnerships within the cryptocurrency industry. A big step toward including ICOs in the Victory Square portfolio was its acceptance into the Blockchain Investors Consortium, or BIC. The BIC currently has 120 members working together to share due diligence and investment opportunities in the most promising blockchain ventures.
The BIC was started after founder Mike Costache researched over 200 ICOs and chose 25 of the most promising opportunities to invest in and advise on. To become a member of the BIC, companies and individuals must hold at least $3 million worth of digital assets, and have at least $1 million invested in either ICOs or actively traded cryptocurrencies.
Victory Square has also agreed to sponsor an investment prize of $100,000 at the d10e conference, a decentralization conference with a focus on emerging blockchain and other disruptive technologies, such as ICOs. As many as 20 companies will compete in a series of pitch presentations, with ICO companies among the competitors looking to gain attention from the d10e judges. Of the 20 companies participating, three will be selected as the winners. The prize pool will be split equally among the winners as either an equity investment or as a token allocation. The judges of the conference include a range of investors and other leaders in the blockchain and crypto spaces.
Victory Square's acceptance into the BIC, and the subsequent sponsorship involvement in d10e, are examples of its strategy of networking within the ICO community to build connections that help it identify and invest in up-and-coming ICO success stories.
ICO Chatter with Some Notable Companies
Eastman Kodak Company (NYSE: KODK) is an American technology company historically known for its foundation in pre-digital photography, but this month (January 2018) it saw a two-day run in its common stock price after announcing plans to launch a cutting edge "major blockchain initiative" in partnership with Wenn Digital. The initiative will use the Ethereum blockchain to ensure the image rights of photographers by registering their work and then pursuing the use of their images to secure payment. The announcement was paired with a statement that Kodak and Wenn will issue an Ethereum-based cryptocurrency called Kodak Coins, or KodakCoin, which will be used to help photographers receive payment for their work. KodakCoin will be launched through an ICO, starting on January 31, 2018. During its pre-sale, KodakCoin raised $2 million. Kodak also said it will install rows of bitcoin mining rigs at its headquarters in New York that will be branded Kodak KashMiner.
Helios and Matheson Analytics (NASDAQ: HMNY) is an information technology services and solutions provider that made news last year when it acquired the license to a crime-stopper facial recognition technology and then acquired a majority stake in movie subscription company MoviePass, Inc. Investors took note when MoviePass announced this month (January 2018) that it has spent months exploring the possibility of a blockchain-powered initial coin offering (ICO). Helios and Matheson Analytics CEO Ted Farnsworth said the company has its own blockchain analysis effort under way. The company, which recently reached the 1.5 million customers milestone, focuses on big data, artificial intelligence, business intelligence, social listening, and consumer-centric technology.
Glance Technologies (CSE: GET) is another company hoping to profit by adapting blockchain technology to its existing operations. The firm operates Glance Pay, a payment system designed to allow smartphone users to choose where they want to eat, order goods and services, send payments, access receipts, earn rewards and interact with merchants. In November 2017, Glance appointed Dinis Guarda to its advisory board. Guarda, ranked as the 5th most influential influencer in blockchain in the world by Right Relevance, will be working to secure teams for Glance that will develop the technology for a possible ICO for a rewards-based cryptocurrency to be integrated into Glance Pay. Glance also recently announced that its partially owned subsidiary Cannapay Financial, Inc. has signed an agreement with Cannabis Big Data Holdings, Inc. that will help provide data collection insight and cryptocurrency transaction functionality for cannabis retailers and producers using blockchain technology. Glance also announced in December 2017 that it had completed its purchase of the Block impact cryptocurrency and blockchain solution from Ztudium Inc, which it intends to integrate into the Glance Pay mobile payment platform.
Social Reality (NASDAQ: SRAX) is using its existing business model as a digital marketing and data management platform to position itself as the first public company to offer delivery of a transparent data management and distribution system via a secure blockchain platform. The company's BIG Platform will use an open source governance structure and token rewards, enabling consumers to claim their data and receive compensation when that data is purchased, rewarding them with a digital token. BIGtoken will be launched as an ICO, with both pre-sales and sale of the tokens set to commence in January 2018. On the news of beginning its own ICO, Social Reality saw a spike of over 70 percent in its stock, closing at $4.90 on the day the ICO was announced in October. The stock has been doing well ever since and is currently trading at $5.90 on January 12, 2018.
With over $3.7 billion dollars invested in ICOs in 2017, and the recent developments in Gibraltar towards creating a regulated environment for ICOs to thrive in, there is strong reason to believe that 2018 will be the year that ICOs attract interest from mainstream investors. The companies mentioned above are in a strong position to benefit from this increased investor interest.
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