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Indiegogo Cancels First ICO Due to Regulatory Concerns, Refunds Investors

Last Updated March 4, 2021 3:34 PM
Josiah Wilmoth
Last Updated March 4, 2021 3:34 PM

Last week, crowdfunding giant Indiegogo launched its second-ever initial coin offering (ICO), this time hosting a security token offering (STO) for a luxury resort in Aspen. All the while, though, the company was quietly erasing its first ICO from memory.

That ICO, a utility token offering from the Fan-Controlled Football League (FCFL), had raised more than $5 million in Dec. 2017 to fund the development of an independent football league that crowdsources team management, giving fans control of personnel decisions, logo design, and even play-calling. In addition to surpassing its $5 million funding target, FCFL inked a two-year deal with streaming service Twitch to broadcast games live.

At the time, Indiegogo touted its token vetting process, which it boasted employed the “strictest standards for legal compliance and quality control.”

However, as first reported by The Next Web , Indiegogo token brokerage partner MicroVentures recently sent out an email to the ICO’s contributors, informing them that it had not distributed the funds to the FCFL. Citing regulatory concerns, the company said it had canceled the offering and would issue a full refund.

From the letter:

“During this time, your investment was not distributed to the company. This was done to ensure that MicroVentures navigated through the regulatory climate prior to finalizing the offering. While we believe the initial path taken was compliant, we have decided the best way to ensure compliance is to unwind the investment opportunity and return investor capital.”

indiegogo ico
Indiegogo has reportedly canceled and refunded its first ICO.

According to an FCFL statement cited by TNW, that refund was issued without the company’s approval and the FCFL had not been “given a valid reason as to why MicroVentures cannot complete the offering.”

Earlier this month, the FCFL published a blog post stating that it has decided to delay its public ICO until the company has released a fully-functional platform to demonstrate to regulators that its tokens truly have utility and are not speculative investments.

“After many, many hours spent with our legal counsel and advisors we decided that the best course of action was to delay our FAN Token generation event (TGE) until the launch of a fully completed FCFL platform with which the FAN Tokens can interact with utility function.”

The reversal of the FCFL ICO raises questions about the future of Indiegogo’s nascent token sale listing service. The addition of STOs had initially seemed to represent an expansion of the company’s ICO service, one that would enable accredited investors with the ability to purchase tokenized equity in participating companies. Now, though, it’s not clear whether the company will make future utility token ICOs available to retail buyers.

When reached for comment, Indiegogo passed along the following comment from co-founder Slava Rubin:

“Indiegogo partnered with MicroVentures in 2016, an SEC-registered broker-dealer, to help market and amplify offerings on their platform to our global audience. Indiegogo itself is not a registered broker-dealer, and in the case of FCFL, or any other investment offering, does not participate in investment related activities, including refunds.”

Update 8/29: Updated to include a statement from Indiegogo

Update 9/7: Updated to include a statement from Indiegogo co-founder Slava Rubin. A previous statement, attributed to an external spokesperson, read, “To clarify, Indiegogo is not a broker-dealer. This ICO was conducted through First Democracy VC (joint venture between Indiegogo, an equity crowdfunding platform, and broker-dealer MicroVentures. The ultimate decision to refund was made by the issuer (FCFL) and the broker-dealer (MicroVentures).”

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