The ICO Phenomenon and Its Relationships with Ethereum Smart Contract Environment

Gianni Fenu, Lodovica Marchesi, Michele Marchesi, Roberto Tonelli

Initial Coin Offerings (ICO) are public offers of new cryptocurrencies in exchange of existing ones, aimed to finance projects in the blockchain development arena. In the last 8 months of 2017, the total amount gathered by ICOs exceeded 4 billion US$, and overcame the venture capital funnelled toward high tech initiatives in the same period. A high percentage of ICOS is managed through Smart Contracts running on Ethereum blockchain, and in particular to ERC-20 Token Standard Contract. In this work we examine 1388 ICOs, published on December 31, 2017 on icobench.com Web site, gathering information relevant to the assessment of their quality and software development management, including data on their development teams. We also study, at the same date, the financial data of 450 ICO tokens available on coinmarketcap.com Web site, among which 355 tokens are managed on Ethereum blochain. We define success criteria for the ICOs, based on the funds actually gathered, and on the behavior of the price of the related tokens, finding the factors that most likely influence the ICO success likeliness.

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