Revisiting the fundamentals and making ‘ICOs great again’

An article by Ed Lehner and Louis Carter

DON’T BELIEVE THE BEAR- ICOs WILL BE BACK

In the last few weeks of the current Bear Market, when BTC could not, at times, support a $6,000 price point, it certainly felt like 2013 all over again. So it may seem paradoxical to write so boldly about about the opportunities within ICOs at a time when BTC is struggling so mightly. However, in light of Michael Novogratz’s recent Bloomberg interview centering on cryptocurrency and John McAfee’s public challenge to debate SEC Chairman Clay on ICOs, there seems to be little doubt, that in time, crypto will be mainstream.

And as cryptocurrency becomes as familiar to the world as Facebook, ICOs will again flourish. For the next wave of ICOs to grow, however, they must have focused, high-powered teams, bleeding-edge technology, and a compelling idea for the world.

A TIME TO REFLECT

This year, ICOs are not returning the 50,000% that Hacker Moon reported that the class of 2017 did. However, as with all technological disruption, the madding crowd’s favor is so quickly lost, only to be regained with even more fervor and, often, delirium. Now that we are at the midpoint of 2018, we think it may be time to reflect on the attributes that the most successful 2017 ICOs embodied and to contemplate what that may mean for our ecosphere.

THE ICO CLASS OF 2017’s THREE MOST IMPORTANT, AND SUCCESSFUL, TRAITS

1. Visionary leadership
2. Developing a crypto project that addresses concerns in, paradoxically, crypto
3. Living out the Genesis Block

1. VISIONARY LEADERSHIP

Visionary leadership goes a long way. In early 2017, when MaidSafe, Augur, and the still clunky SteemIt rounded out the top ten, we did not envision that Binance, a project with the goal of a decentralized exchange, would garner much attention, let alone compete with the established cryptocurrency exchanges. Albeit, Binance is not fully decentralized as noted by the hack in early March.

Nonetheless, Zhao Changpeng and his team , and inspite of the hack, continue to exhibit visionary leadership in the form of the grit, hustle, and determination that were the prerequisites to Biance’s success. Raising less than 6% of Filecoin’s 250 million-plus ICO, Binance fully utilized its 15 million ICO to become, as of April 2018, the largest exchange in the world.

2. ADDRESSING PROBLEMS IN CRYPTO HEAD-ON

In spite of what you might think about Dan Latimer or Charles Hoskinson, the lead developers and de facto CEOs of EOS and Cardono, respectively, they both highlighted the need to develop new protocols in crypto. As BTC maximimists are becoming increasingly confined to representing Block Steam, the Winklevoss twins, and Trace Mayer, most of the crypto ecosphere saw a need for these platforms.

Dan Latimer and Charles Hoskinson could also be commended for their visionary work, and more precisely should be acknowledged for readily proposing protocols that would address some of the concerns about Proof of Work (PoW) algorithm generally, and BTC specifically. The same could be said of the class of 2016 ICOs, Ethereum and Ant Shares (now NEO), in that both developed protocols that proposed solutions to raising capital that PoW algorithm could not readily solve.

3. LIVING OUT THE GENESIS BLOCK

In the Genesis block, the first ever Bitcoin block, which appears to have been solved on January 3, 2009, Satoshi Nakamoto inscribed, “Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks.” The message seems to symbolize the spirit of Bitcoin, and more broadly, the cypherpunk movement informing the new currency. Nakamoto, in this short, relatively cryptic statement, encapsulated the desperation of the times; however, cryptocurrency broadly, and ICO more precisely, often do not closely cohere to this liberatory notion. However, Omisego and its socially conscious whitepaper strongly influenced the cryptocurrency community by proposing a solution to ‘banking the unbanked.’

This notion of ‘banking the unbanked’ was more of a slogan in crypto, but Omisego, already established in the Asian payment market, pulled off a successful ICO, selling out immediately and going on to build a budding project.

MAKING ICOs GREAT AGAIN: PRETENDERS, BANKERS, AND REVOLUTIONARIES

The successful 2017 ICOs, with record returns, cohered to core ideas within the Open Source Community and cryptocurrency that made them relevant. Yet, when an ICOs’ content is degraded to that of Legend’s Coin, a private membership in a Las Vegas Club, all of crypto may collectively groan. In revisiting the ideas above: 1) visionary leadership 2) addressing concerns in crypto and 3) living out the Genesis Block, we are reminded of the powerful potential of open, uncensorable blockchain technologies.

Andreas Antonopoulos, in a recent talk in Poland, highlighted the importance of uncensorable cryptocurrency, and conversely, the temptation to ‘sell-out’ and emulate corporate culture. Antonopoulos’s talk is greatly applicable to ICOs too, in that the fabric of what cryptocurrency is cannot be appropriated by slick marketing and hand-waving people in suits. And, if you lived in New York City, and particularly in Bushwick, Brooklyn, in the summer of 2017, there were rooms of suits avidly hand-waving about ICO’s.

Successful ICOs, in sum, have something important to say or do. The power of purpose isn’t just a overused bromide, but can be a catalyst to change the world. David Hay, well-known for his Crypto Riot show, recently moved to Colombia to help Venezuelan refugees by providing them training on how to use a cryptowallet and giving away real cryptocurrency. If David Hay had an ICO, he would be making ICOs greater than they ever were.

Ed Lehner, Ph,D. is a faculty member at the City University of New York and is a seasoned research methodologist with extensive training in qualitative and quantitative frameworks. Ed focuses his research on blockchain applications combining data sciences and higher education. Ed also is an advisor to Scienceroot, which aims to be the first blockchain-based scientific ecosystem to integrate a Social Media Scientific Network, Funding Platform and Decentralized Publishing Framework.

Louis Carter founded Best Practice Institute in 2001 after completing one of the world’s first studies on high-impact leadership development with Warren Bennis. Since then, BPI has become one of the top associations for leadership and human resources development in the world. He has written 10 books on best practices and organizational leadership, including Change Champions, which has been translated into 8 languages, and the Best Practice book series published by Jossey Bass/John Wiley and Sons including Best Practices in Leadership Development and Organization Change. He is a highly regarded authority on learning, talent, leadership development, and change.