Make sense of ICOs at Disrupt SF 2017

Token sales, better known as ICOs, are the biggest disruptor in the technology world this year — perhaps even this decade. That’s why it’s a major topic at Disrupt SF with several interviews and events covering the growing trend. And you might want to grab a ticket before Friday when Disrupt’s general admission ticket price increases by $1,000.

During the first half of 2017, more money was raised via ICOs than through traditional early stage venture capital financing. That’s according to research from Goldman Sachs, a pillar of the traditional finance world, no less.

But this eclipsing of seed stage VC spending comes before the potential of ICOs has even touched mainstream tech companies. Only a few established, venture-backed startups have taken the ICO route, but as more do, the results of their token sales are likely to encourage other founders and CEO to follow them down the path.

Yet, despite the growth and undoubted potential, little is known about the specifics of preparing for ICOs.

  • What actually is an ICO?
  • The SEC recently issued guidelines, are ICOs legal?
  • Can you really raise over $50 million in just minutes?
  • How do you go about holding an ICO?
  • What happens to your company after an ICO?
  • What do prospective ICO investors buy?
  • What kinds of companies are holding ICOs?
  • Does an ICO replace an IPO?
  • And — most importantly — should traditional VCs worry about being replaced?

These are some of the many questions and topics that we’ll be tackling head-on at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco next month.

We’re excited to welcome Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin and AngelList co-founder and CEO Naval Ravikant at TechCrunch Disrupt SF. Vitalik Buterin is one of the best people to talk about Ethereum as he’s been one of the main architects behind this blockchain. In addition to his role at AngelList, Naval Ravikant has been tweeting and writing about ICOs and cryptocurrencies for a while. He’s one of the biggest cryptocurrency advocates in the startup and VC community.

Disrupt SF will also feature a panel of experts who have direct experience of holding ICOs. Each has a different angle that, together, can put the pieces together to help make sense of this hugely impactful new funding trend, and where it is ultimately headed for Silicon Valley and the global tech industry.

Our panelists:

Dan Morehead, founder and CEO of Pantera Capital

Former Tiger Global executive Dan Morehead was among the early moving VCs to enter bitcoin, now his firm is one of the first to raise a dedicated ICO fund.

The fund is targeting a $100 million close, and it has backed, or plans to back, the likes of Kik, 0x, FunFair, Omise and Civic.

Eyal Hertzog, co-founder and head of product of Bancor

Bancor raised more than $150 million of Ether coin during its ICO in July of this year. It completed the sale, which was then a record, in just three hours.

The funds are being used to develop a system that uses the blockchain to disintermediate bitcoin exchanges, making it easier to trade crypto coins — not to mention easier to hold ICOs. The BNT that was sold during the ICO currently has a market cap of over $100 million today.

Jun Hasegawa, CEO of Omise

Omise is a Bangkok-based payment enabler that had already raised more than $20 million from traditional investors when it decided to hold an ICO this July.

The token sale was capped at just under $25 million, and, despite massive interest, Omise opted for a more controlled pre-sale-only event because it didn’t want to raise too much. The funds it did pull in are being used to develop a decentralized payment system. Today, the total market cap of its OMG coin is over $800 million — that makes it one of the best performing ICO coins to date.

Off The Record Workshop

Disrupt attendees will also have a chance to attend a workshop around Cryptocurrencies and the Blockchain. This moderated discussion will offer a smaller, more intimate setting than the main stage of Disrupt. This topic is just one of the several offered at Disrupt SF 2017 though we expect it to be one of the most popular. Seating is limited at these sessions so show up early to guarantee a seat.

We literally want to surround Disrupt attendees with an opportunity to learn about and engage with these massively important topics for founders and investors.

The Off The Record format is simple — the time and place for each will be listed in the show agenda so you know the who, when and where. A moderator will lead a conversation with a panel of notable founders and investors (and sometimes main stage speakers) and all participants can join in with questions to keep the discussions going. Afterwards, everyone can network and mingle with like-minded attendees.

See you in San Francisco next month! Tickets are available here.