Many doubted The Civil Media Company‘s ambitious plan to sell $8 million worth of its cryptocurrency, called CVL.
The skeptics, as it turns out, were right. Civil’s initial coin offering, meant to fund the company’s effort to create a new economy for journalism using the blockchain, failed to attract sufficient interest. The company announced today that it would provide refunds to all CVL token buyers by October 29.
Civil’s goal was to sell 34 million CVL tokens for between $8 million and $24 million. The sale began on September 18 and concluded yesterday. Ultimately, 1,012 buyers purchased $1,435,491 worth of CVL tokens. A spokesperson for Civil told TechCrunch an additional 1,738 buyers successfully registered for the sale, but never completed their transaction.
Civil isn’t giving up. The company says “a new, much simpler token sale is in the works,” details of which will be shared soon. Once those new tokens are distributed, Civil will launch three new features: a blockchain-publishing plugin for WordPress, a community governance application called The Civil Registry and a developer tool for non-blockchain developers to build apps on Civil.
ConsenSys, a blockchain venture studio that invested $5 million in Civil last fall, has agreed to purchase $3.5 million worth of those new tokens. The purchase is not an equity; all capital from the token sale is committed to the Civil Foundation, an independent nonprofit initially funded by Civil that funds grants to the newsrooms in Civil’s network.
In a blog post today, Civil chief executive officer Matthew Iles wrote that the token sale failure was a disappointment but not a shock. Days prior, he’d authored a separate post where he admitted things weren’t looking good.
“This isn’t how we saw this going,” Iles wrote. “The numbers will show clearly enough that we are not where we wanted to be at this point in the sale when we started out. But one thing we want to say at the top is that until the clock strikes midnight on Monday, we are still working nonstop on the goal of making our soft cap of $8 million.”
A recent Wall Street Journal report claimed Civil had reached out to The New York Times, The Washington Post, Dow Jones and Axios, among others, but failed to incite interest in its token.
Separate from its token sale, Civil has inked strategic partnerships with media companies like the Associated Press and Forbes, both of which confirmed to TechCrunch today that the failed token sale doesn’t impact their partnerships with Civil.
Forbes became the first major media brand to test Civil’s technology when it announced earlier this month that it would experiment with publishing content to the Civil platform. As for the AP, it granted the newsrooms in Civil’s network licenses to its content.
Civil, of course, isn’t the only blockchain startup targeting journalism. Nwzer, Userfeeds, and Po.et, which was founded by Jarrod Dicker, a former vice president at The Washington Post, are all trying their hand at bringing the new technology to the content industry.
Which, if any, will actually find success in the complicated space, is the question.