No, the year-end lists aren’t quite finished. We’ve compiled one that you won’t find anywhere else: The 17 weirdest Initial Coin Offerings of 2017. Many meet a valid market need. Some are just silly, and some may be total frauds. All, however, are at least a bit weird.
Since it’s only 10 months until Christmas, let’s start with two holiday-based ICOs.
This coin was touted as both a charitable effort and a fundraiser for a mystery project. Half the funds raised will support the “big (and real)” as-yet-untitled project codenamed BlackBox. They suggest more announcements will be forthcoming in March 2018.
The other half will go to charity. The developers want XmasCoin to become “the official Christmas coin, the coin of goodness and goodwill.”
Another Christmas token didn’t present itself quite so altruistically.
Xmas Token is meant to be “a symbol of gratitude and thank you, a token meant to be given,” according to developers. Evidently, the point is to spend Ether to buy these tokens as gifts for friends and family. The whitepaper does offer the promise of a return on the investment. Because Santa will make XmasCoin “the most hyped token,” the developers said that “token value will skyrocket.”
It didn’t. In fact, this one ended up on Bitcoin Exchange’s naughty list, which called it “absolutely irrelevant,” “frivolous” and “almost-fraudulent.”
Staying with the ”naughty list” theme for the moment….
3. Lust Coin
This decentralized sex marketplace has clear a vision: to help “all human beings on earth to find their perfect sexual partner anonymously.” In other words, it’s a platform for prostitution. And the “all human beings” appears limited to men seeking women.
As Boing Boing and others point out, the developers’ assurances that it’s not illegal anywhere in the world fall flat, given — at the minimum — some governments have outlawed the very use of crypto.
Note that ICO Tracker gives this a scam alert.
SpankChain is an adult entertainment ecosystem built on the Ethereum network and founded by individuals from both the adult entertainment industry and blockchain development world.
In short, it’s a way for viewers to pay performers directly. This solves two problems: It gets more in the pockets of the performers (vs. in the pockets of the industry intermediaries), and it eliminates the need for banking networks.
As Forbes contributor Zara Stone explains, this second aspect is critical. Porn performers, like those in the cannabis industry, face business banking challenges because banks can refuse to do business with them. That leaves operating on a cash-only basis or opting for far costlier services.
Sometimes, it’s the concept, not the execution. Other ICOs are just about making a point.
5. Useless Ethereum Token (UET)
The “let’s make a point” ICO that probably received the most attention in 2017 was that for the Useless Ethereum Token. It billed its ICO as “the world's first 100% honest Ethereum ICO.”
You really need to read part of the pitch for yourself to get the full effect:
“The UET ICO transparently offers investors no value, so there will be no expectation of gains. No gains means few investors, few investors means few transactions, and few transactions means no Ethereum network lag — not to mention no depressing posts … about people losing all their savings!”
Another one that seems to be more about concept than execution is ASTRCoin.
Asteroid, Ltd. is building a decentralized database that allows individuals, corporations and nations to register claims on mining rights via BlockClaim mechanisms. The Ethereum-based system will be modelled after ICANN, which registers “claims” on website domains.
Here’s Bitcoin Exchange’s take: “We’re not sure if this is a stroke of genius or absolutely insane.”
A third one didn’t even pretend to be serious…
7. Jesus Coin
This one started as a hoax, explains Forbes contributor Shannara Johnson. However, soon after its ICO launch, cryptocurrency investors began taking it seriously.
Given the irreverent whitepaper, it’s hard to imagine why. Here’s an excerpt — but the whole thing is worth a read:
“Unlike morally bereft cryptocurrencies, Jesus Coin has the unique advantage of providing global access to Jesus that’s safer and faster than ever before.
- Sin Forgiving — Jesus Coin is negotiating with churches to outsource sin forgiveness.
- Transaction Speeds — Record transaction times between you and God’s son.
- Predicted to Achieve $50bn Market Cap — Predicted by Peter (not the disciple).”
Speaking of religion... Many of 2017’s ICOs were by nonprofits or others seeking (or claiming) to do good.
One nonprofit used its Initial Coin Offering to fund a dApp:
8. I am by Infobeing (Washington-based nonprofit)
Infobeing is essentially a social dApp. The IAM token, according to the developers, is cryptocurrency “deriving its value from unleashing human potential.” It allows for transactions with the Infobeing social dApp, which matches people for relationships and business and allows users to buy and sell goods and services on the platform.
In a recent Irish Tech News interview, Mark Manney, founding partner, offered the following: “‘I am’ enables people to effortlessly meet, form new relationships and business connections, make contracts, and conduct transactions in freedom. We are unleashing human potential by bringing all these elements together into one decentralized platform.”
9. Christ Coin
Christ Coin bills itself as the first pre-mined Christian cryptocurrency. Essentially, it incentivizes people to read the Bible and interact with the community on the Life Change Platform. Those who receive the coins can keep or invest them, give them to their churches or use them to support missionary humanitarian efforts.
The founder, Emmanuel Ogunjumo, told Baptist News that one could earn $300 to $500 a year. It could, he says, raise funds for churches if entire congregations participate. “And think of people in third-world nations who earn less than $3 a day. Imagine how much earning an extra dollar a day can do for them. “
CrowdPainting calls itself a decentralized art project. Its goal: “Become the world’s largest collaborative painting, owned and managed by all of its contributors.”
CrowdPainting has been around since 2014. The ICO’s objective was to raise funds that would integrate CrowdPainting to the blockchain so it would “exist autonomously and allow all participating artists to own the canvas forever!”
INK tokens allow artists to paint empty areas and receive a canvas address for their painting. Users can also use INK to upvote and downvote the work of others on the platform.
My Trading Buddy put it on its list of “weirdest ICO campaigns of 2017,” more because of the “turbulent and grotesque” nature of the film than the ICO itself, which it calls “relatively normal.”
12. ACE TokenStars
This is a blockchain-based celebrity management platform. It launched with tennis and football, and it plans to add poker, basketball and hockey players, as well as actors, models and musicians.
At this point, TokenStars seeks to find, fund, and promote talented tennis and football players while they are young. Fans can support the athletes via tokens; the platform also incentivizes scouts and promoters for finding and supporting players.
Privatex bills itself as the “first internet broadband marketplace powered by P2P VPN network on blockchain.” As the description suggests, this may be the least weird IPO of the bunch.
This Ethereum-powered peer-to-peer product takes spare power from its users and gives them access to powerful, distributed proxy software that, according to the developers, would let users bypass China’s “‘Great Firewall” or watch Netflix from another country.
The developers say it’s more secure and less detectable that other VPNs; the goal is to create a network that can’t be blocked without blocking the entire Ethereum blockchain — which is essentially impossible.
Dentacoin, according to developers, is the first blockchain concept designed for the global dental industry. The Ethereum-based platform’s stated goal is to improve the quality of dental care, reduce treatment costs, and build a “global dental community.”
Opinions are mixed.
Digital Trends was less than impressed, comparing it to a grocery store reward point system, or a gift card. “At best, Dentacoin is a misguided attempt to leverage a vogue technology to over complicate systems already in place. At worst, it could wipe the smile off the face of naive investors — and patients.”
On the other hand, CIO Review named it one of the 20 most promising blockchain solutions of 2017.
Ok. Gaming ICOs are incredibly common. But this one seems a little different than most. Think gladiators, who use FAME as currency.
BattleDrome is a gaming platform built on an Ethereum-based Battle Arena. Anyone can create a Warrior that can be traded, trained, equipped, and entered into combat events.
Gladiators gain FAME, and FAME is used to create a gladiator, and to equip them, train them — and heal them when injured. When one is defeated in battle, the gladiator who defeated them takes half of the fame held by the vanquished. To cash out, the owner retires the gladiator.
16. Wu-Tang coin
Once Upon a Time in Shaolin... is a double album by Wu-Tang Clan. There’s one copy, which Martin Shkreli bought. The point of the ICO was to raise funds to buy it and release it to the public. The currency, unsurprisingly, is called the Wu-Tang Coin.
17. Synthorn (website defunct)
Let’s end with one of the weirdest: Synthorn — “synthetic rhino horn aphrodisiac tokenized on the Ethereum blockchain.”
In 2017, it tried to raise money via an ICO to “help measure demand for synthetic rhino horn aphrodisiac pills." The website has disappeared, but the whitepaper lingers.
And — surprise, surprise — it earned a scam alert from ICO Tracker.