Bitcoin billionaire Tim Draper is looking to enter into the ICO space with a new smart contract platform.
The Bitcoin early adopter told Reuters he will participate in an “initial coin offering” for Tezos, a new blockchain platform launched by a husband and wife team with Wall Street and hedge fund backgrounds. They believe they’ve elegantly solved Bitcoin’s governance problem.
The ICO is due to launch May 22. Draper, looking to invest in U.S.-based Dynamic Ledger Solutions Inc., the parent of Tezos, did not divulge many more details. He certainly has taken a risk in entering into a market wrought with regulatory questions and seedy players. Mr. Draper, an early investor in Skype, believes the possible reward of such a high-risk investment could be worth it.
According to Reuters, Draper is the first venture capitalist to back initial coin offerings. The news agency calls this a “significant stamp of approval” for this new way of financing projects which has caught the public eye due to eye-popping amounts of funds raised by seemingly inexperienced teams of developers. Lawyers have warned that many of these schemes ought to be viewed as securities by purveyors, and potential regulatory paperwork should be filed.
Many developers of ICO’s claim they are a new way of raising funds – that is more like a crowd sale than anything and are just protected by new crowd sale laws – and thus not regulated as a security.
A wide array of projects have raised funds via initial coins offerings. The most notable, and largest to date, was Ethereum’s ICO for the DAO, which was designed to be decentralized incubator for Ethereum-based projects. After the DAO was hacked for $56 million, the wind was taken out of the sails of that project, though projects are still underway under the model thanks to Ethereum’s continued use as a testing environment for multinational corporations.
Many of these projects are, more or less, securities. The reality is the purveyors have not viewed them as such, marketing them as decentralized and owned by the investors.
“The best thing I can do is lead by example,” said Draper, on his plan to participate in Tezos’ token offering. “Over time, I actually feel that some of these tokens are going to improve the world, and I want to make sure those tokens get promoted as well. I think Tezos is one of those tokens.”
Most venture capitalists might be prohibited from investing into. Not Draper.
“I think most investor contracts did not anticipate something like an ICO,” said Draper. “But we did anticipate that certain things are going to happen and finance is going to be transformed.”
Draper’s firm has money set aside for such risky endeavors. Tezos is designed to allow for automated upgrades in a decentralized manner, potentially solving a problem with governance experienced in systems like Bitcoin. The owners say their blockchain is the first to code these specifications into their design.
Kathleen and Arthur Breitman, who have worked on the platform for approximately three years, highlight their experience on Wall Street.
Arthur Breitman, a former high frequency trader for Goldman Sachs and options market maker at Morgan Stanley, has spoken about his self-amending platform publicly before.
Kathleen Breitman, a former management associate at Bridgewater Associates, explains there is no cap for their ICO.
“What we’re going to do is allow as many people who want to buy into the crowdsale over a two-week period,” she said.
“Tezos is a new decentralized blockchain that governs itself by establishing a true digital commonwealth,” states the website. “It facilitates formal verification, a technique which mathematically proves the correctness of the code governing transactions and boosts the security of the most sensitive or financially weighted smart contracts.”
It adds: “Tezos instantiates new technical innovations but also enforces types of constitutionalism through the use of formal proofs to mathematically verify that key properties are upheld over time. By allowing stakeholders to coordinate on-chain, the network also allows for the creation of bounties to implement specific features or discover bugs. Collectively, the network maintains the decentralized aspect of blockchains while introducing a mechanism to enable collective decision making. Tezos tokens not only power smart contracts in the network, but also allow votes on protocol amendments. The initial Tezos rollout is simple by design, but its self-amending nature means that the rules governing the network can be improved over time.”
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