Smith + Crown is inundated with requests to list and review token sales. Below you can see a graph of the number of weekly responses we receive to our token sale intake form.
This has included a mix of nonsense projects, wildly ambitious entrepreneurs, wildly unrealistic entrepreneurs, scammers, and jokes. Even satire projects have proven sophisticated and more numerous than we would have guessed.
We feel the need for a public update of our listing policies, to help guide both token sale launchers and potential token sale participants, and to offer some thoughts on how Smith + Crown is responding to this increasingly wild market.
S+C Listing Policies
Below is some clarification of the most common misconceptions people have.
- We do not charge for listing or research, and we won’t accept offers to do so. We retain the right to list the projects we choose and the right to research projects we choose.
- We currently have only one requirement to be listed: provide third-party verification that you are who you say you are. Do not try to raise anonymously. In this industry, there are few protections for token sale participants beyond escrow and public reputation. Our list currently is not curated, though we are considering several options for changing this (see below)
- In order to be eligible for an interview and review, contact at least three weeks before your sale. We receive plenty of requests for listing mere days before a sale will launch, then follow up complaints that we haven’t written a review. If you contact us two weeks before your sale or less, we will not consider researching your project. If you contact us three weeks before your sale, we most likely won’t research your project. Even if you contact us in advance, we don’t guarantee that we will research your project. We are expanding our team to help us cover more of the market.
- The things we look for when deciding which projects to research include the following factors: progress toward a working product, reputation within the community, available code for review, track record within both the blockchain industry (particularly as a developer) and history within the industry the project is trying to disrupt, a long marketing period, openness to feedback and critique, and general novelty within the industry.
If you want your sale to be listed, please contact us at email@example.com, with plenty of time to spare, and share as much information as you can. We respect all project requests to withhold listing until a certain date.
You should be public with your project and intent to distribute your token via token sale with plenty of time for the community to debates the merits of your business model, token economy, team, roadmap, and technical solution. If some information hasn’t yet been decided, that’s ok—just get on our radar.
Responding to the Market
There are many troubling signs in the token sale market today.
- Projects raising money without developers
- Projects raising money without security or escrow measures
- Projects announcing sales without giving enough time for community review
- Projects raising more money than a clear roadmap—should one exist—suggests they need
- Projects raising money without even a basic minimum viable product
This frenzy has led to deep skepticism—even satire—from mainstream media. The July 27 2017 issue of Forbes Magazine depicts the industry (unfairly) as filled only with hucksters and the hopelessly naïve. For anyone looking at the market at a high level, this view is understandable.
Barring a major external event to chill the entire industry, this trend will likely continue. More tools for issuing tokens are coming online, more service providers (many with little understanding of the legal implications of their work) are offering various “ICO services,” and more people are launching from more jurisdictions.
In 2013, the ease with which anyone could fork existing blockchain code bases and launch their own coin spawned a wave of what became affectionately known as “shitcoins.” Many pre-mined a hefty portion of tokens to the founding team and then opened up mining. We may be on the verge of that with token sales.
This is a shame and will soil a growing and promising industry at a time when more people are getting involved.
We at S+C are considering several measures to help people make sense of this increasingly chaotic market.
- Launching an initiative to promote self-regulation within the industry. This will include clear guidelines and standards that projects should follow. It should hopefully help sale participants sift wheat from chaff and well intentioned entrepreneurs stand out.
- Launch a curated listing of serious projects. This would remain a free service, with listing done at our own discretion. We aim to be an open platform where projects can expect to be treated equally regardless of their ability to pay for marketing services.
- Launching new features with which to distinguish projects. We intentionally don’t ‘rate’ projects because we think such rating at so early a stage is an exercise in false precision. We do, however, try to label projects according to objective criteria. This can help people sort through the jumble of sales. To provide finer definition, we may add more criteria, possibly more subjective ones, while launching new search and sort features.
If you have any ideas about the above—or want to be involved in any initiatives around industry self-regulation—please contact us.
Director of Research