Original Research

BitGirls pushes the boundaries with its crowdsale (S+C Research Report)

BitGirls is a reality-tv-like show in Japan in which the audience can use cryptographic voting tokens to influence show content. Contestants compete on the show, as in a reality tv idol show. The twist is that each has her own counterparty tokens freely trading on the market, and the price of the token party determines what happens on each episode. The token also gives holders certain voting power over show content. The show is aimed at popularizing cryptocurrency in Japan.

Bitgirls is ten days into an ongoing crowdsale. While its $200,000 progress may seem modest, the project has enjoyed little coverage or serious discussion, particularly relative to other ongoing cryptocurrency projects. In some ways, this isn’t surprising: most materials are in Japanese, outreach has been minimal, and the show’s premise could just as easily be a joke.

On the other hand, the minimal traction means many miss what is actually a serious media experiment to popularize cryptocurrency in Japan. It is also an innovative attempt to build a new business model on top of Bitcoin (via counterparty tokens). It is likely one of the most unique crowdsale formats in recent memory. Finally, the project shows all signs of actually happening: it’s in production now, has lined up real talent, and will air in two weeks.

Smith+Crown did a deep dive into the crowdsale, the company and effort behind it, and the potential market for such a project. We summarized findings in a research report on the BitGirls crowdsale. You can access it here.

What is BitGirls?

BitGirls is a reality-tv-like show in Japan that uses cryptographic tokens for fan voting, which influences show content. In the show, a set of Japanese women compete for attention, a mix between reality television, a talent competition show, and a beauty pageant. Each contestant has her own set of tokens that trade freely on the Zaif Exchange. Holders of these tokens (TOREKABU) are apportioned a share of separate voting tokens (HYOU) each week. HYOU can be used in a voting process to determine certain elements of the next show e.g. what costume a contestant wears or which contestant gets to participate in a particular photo shoot.

The tokens exist on the counterparty exchange. Tech Bureau, which also runs the Zaif Exchange in Japan, is producing the show with an unnamed production company, which will air on Tokyo MX station starting October 21, 2016. 

Starting October 3rd, each contestant is crowd-selling Torekabu tokens on the Zaif Exchange.

It’s difficult to estimate market demand for such a token–and broadly, for such a show. Nonetheless, here are several relevant market data points.

  • $26 million: How much fans of the girl musical group AKB48 (and sister groups) spend on cds that have let them vote in competitions.
  • $50 million: Annual revenues in the UK from interactive tv programming, such as voting shows and phone-in opportunities, which until recently could cost more than $2.85 per minute.
  • $80,000: Amount raised to sell almost 9,000 copies of a limited edition American baseball card. People value on-demand collectibles.

Read the research report for more information.

Seriously, is this show real?

This is an understandable question. The English interface for participating is still being tweaked. This is always a worrying sign among serious projects, but in this case, it likely reflects the show’s target audience: Japanese viewers.

However, evidence suggests this show is happening.

  1. Show host Rika Yoshiki publicaly confirmed her participation in the show. Her management company did as well. Yoshiki has almost 300,000 followers on twitter, placing her far beyond the 99.9th percentile of twitter users. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has only 187,000.
  2. Show contestants are actively tweeting about Bitgirls. One contestant (a balloon artist) even created a big balloon bitcoin.
  3. Tech Bureau and its partners are launching the show, even prior to the crowdsale’s end.
  4. We received pictures of the actual production of the show (see below).

This show is real, the crowdsale is happening, and BitGirls will push the boundaries of both entertainment and novel applications of blockchain technology. Read the research report and let us know what you think.


Top left: BitGirls hosts hold a mock meeting in a production office meeting room. Top right: Script for the first two episodes. Bottom: Contestants during early filming.

Top left: BitGirls hosts hold a mock meeting in a production office meeting room. Top right: Script for the first two episodes. Bottom: Contestants during early filming.

Smith + Crown does not collect money or bounties for posting these announcements. All of Smith + Crown’s announcements for ICOs should not be construed as investment advice or an endorsement. In addition, some of the information contained above may be changed after we posted this; we urge the reader to read all source material before investing or passing judgment. If you see anything that has become obsolete, let us know.

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