Anatomy of an ICO: Investments in ICONOMI - Smith + Crown
Token Sale |

Anatomy of an ICO: Investments in ICONOMI

ICONOMI has been one of the most successful ICOs in 2016. How did the investments do?

ICONOMI raised over $10 million in its recent ICO. The project was both anticipated and hyped, and it exceeded its funding goals relatively early in the process. ICONOMI accepted a variety of currencies, including BTC, ETH, LSK, USD, and EUR. Cryptocurrency investments totaled over $7 million, with the figure fluctuating depending on the exchange rate used.

The sale occurred over the blockchain, so investment was transparent. Smith+Crown did some light analysis of how this sale played out over time and how distributed the ICONOMI tokens should be.

Investment was distributed across the duration of the ICO

This is a graph of cryptocurrency investments by the time of investment. Currencies have been converted to USD using the exchange rate at the time of investment and summed for each hour from the ICO start. We’ve shaded when bonus periods begin and end.



The end of the first bonus period catalyzed a wave of participation as investors piled into the waning hours of the 15% bonus period. Surprisingly, the end of the other bonus periods did not show such activity, but almost half of the total amount invested in BTC, ETH, and LSK came in the final days of the sale.



This suggests that bonuses can drive investment–not terribly surprising, but it also shows the value of outreach during the ICO itself. Significant investment came in long after the bonus expired.

Whales dominated the investment

In total, 6700 unique addresses participated, with some addresses contributing multiple investments. ICONOMI reports that 3,508 people invested, presumably across fiat and cryptocurrencies, so many investors used multiple addresses. This analysis does not link actual addresses with each other, but it does assume that each address represents at most one person.

In total, the top 10% of addresses contributed over $6 million: over 3/4 of the total cryptocurrency investment and 60% of the total amount raised. These 670 addresses averaged approximately $9,000 each.


The whale investors drove total contributions. This is an important, albeit not surprising, insight. ICOs are incredibly resource-intensive to operate, involving constant interaction with the community, troubleshooting technical issues with myriad investors, and engaging the press. This likely involves the long tail of investors who contribute less than 1 BTC and who, even in aggregate, are not a major component of total funds.

One theory might be that this responsiveness gives whales the confidence to invest in the project. The likely reality is that these relationships exist outside of the forums, slack channels, and the subreddits that comprise the community surrounding these projects. The effort for these often goes unseen.

It is one quirk of the delicate dance of the ICO: selling an often undeveloped product with the arms-length transaction of an IPO and the mob hype of crowdfunding.