My name is Dmitrii Skripkin, I am the head of traffic department at Platinum, the company that can attract crypto community to your project, provides best ICO and STO marketing services and can be really helpful in teaching about crypto-economics.
As for the teaching… Welcome to the UBAI! Here we gathered all our knowledge to share it with people who just step on the road of crypto success.
If you want to understand the overall influence hype can have on a team and anyone involved with an ICO project, take a look at the summary of our lesson
What is Hype in Cryptocurrency
The English Dictionary defines ‘hype’ as extravagant or intensive publicity or promotion. Therefore it is only right that we define cryptocurrency hype as extravagant or intense publicity and promotion for any kind of cryptocurrency. Recent research suggests there is a 60% chance that people around you have encountered the word ‘bitcoin’, or ‘cryptocurrency’ from one source or another. This widespread publicity was also catalyzed by the stunning and sudden rise of the price of bitcoin in 2017 (and other times as well), which led to a frenzy in FOMO, fear of missing out, which drove otherwise skeptical people to eventually believe in cryptocurrencies. From that point, many people started to believe in the idea and potential of cryptocurrencies. This led to even further growth in optimism among members of the cryptocurrency community, which, in turn, drove demand and hype to absolutely atmospheric levels. There is an ongoing argument among financial experts about the nature and destiny of cryptocurrencies. One school of thought is that crypto is, in fact, the next evolution of money. Other people think crypto is nothing but a bubble or fraud and will eventually fade into oblivion.
Roles of Hype
It is a fact there is hype in the cryptocurrency industry. It is also a fact that investors often trade and hold positions based on that hype. But before speaking about the role and purpose of cryptocurrency hype, let’s take a look at the major causes behind it. Ever increasing media coverage has brought the entire crypto sphere into the limelight. Just the media calling bitcoin “Digital Gold” has coaxed people into buying and hoarding bitcoins for themselves. Increasing groups of cryptocurrency believers have spread the idea that cryptocurrencies are a unique store of value, uncorrelated to other more traditional asset classes. There is also a significant number of individuals who purchased bitcoins before the sudden rise in value and are now hoarding their currency like gold, seemingly unwilling to sell at any price. The money to be made in crypto has attracted a great number of miners. We have previously discussed the key role and value of coin miners to the integrity of the blockchain. These miners help support not only the price and the maturity of bitcoin, but also the blockchain technology on which bitcoin depends.
Common ICO Narratives in a nutshell
An ICO is a funding mechanism that a company uses primarily to raise early stage capital. So far it has largely been blockchain-based technology solutions which employ “Tokens” (cryptocurrencies or digital assets) that are functionally used in the company’s solution, so as to give them a relative value. These days, there are a large number of companies constantly ‘pre’, ‘on’ or ‘post’ ICO. But the first ever recorded ICO was by Mastercoin in 2013. Their campaign lasted for almost a month, with Mastercoin raising up to 5,000 BTC, then valued at $500,000 USD. A year later, Ethereum was launched. And in 2015, the Frontier, an experimental release of Ethereum platform was released. A month later, Augur Token was launched. Since then, many other ICOs have followed. In 2016 alone, ICO sales raised up to $103 million with ICONOMI and SingularDTV leading the sale with $10 million and $7.5 million. In many ways, ICOs were made possible by the ease with which companies were able to create their ICO tokens on the Ethereum Blockchain technology. With the success of bitcoin and the explosive growth of ICOs for various purposes, the market has shifted solely from the topics of blockchain tech and cryptocurrency solutions, to more specific and practical applications of these solutions to actual real world problems. But at the same time, there has also been a large number of scams as a result of the lack of regulation and insufficient oversight. This is something to always keep in mind when you are considering ICO investments.
The Power of Perception
People’s perception of an ICO depends upon several key factors. Due to the incredibly large amount of paper wealth generated by investing in cryptocurrency, people are inclined to invest with less stringent diligence, even regarding their own money. That is, for better or worse, generally more true for crypto as opposed to traditional investors. Intelligent investors pay particular attention to the following details when evaluating an ICO: -The quality and marketable potential of the idea. -The necessity of a blockchain solution to solve this particular problem. -The quality and commitment of the team to the company. -The tokenmetrics and tokenomics. -The ability to actually bring the solution to market as a viable business.
Signs of Market Hype & Anticipation
A solid understanding of the signs of market hype and any resulting hyper-anticipation requires a multifaceted approach to evaluating an ICO. All the circumstances, situations, prevailing market conditions, and other factors contribute in various ways and to various degrees, to each ICO. It is important to also understand why different investors are investing. Some are committing capital because they truly believe in the idea as a viable business and are planning to hold on for a longer term. Some people are pure speculators hoping to multiply their money and take a profit as fast as they can. There is nothing inherently wrong with either one of those approaches or reasons to invest! The point is, you just need to know with whom you are investing so you can make the most advantageous decisions about your own funds.
The following are signs of ICO market hype: The Social Media Factor When an ICO is looking to build momentum among potential investors, social media is at the top of the list of ways to do it. Social media allows projects to market their product directly to investors without relying upon middlemen, and in many cases, basically, for free. Professional marketers have also appeared recently to help projects focus on developing their project-specific technology, or business connections; while the regular marketing team is able to continue building the necessary awareness and hype. Many ICO projects seek to build large Telegram communities, and of course, schedule their ICO at the most opportune time. If you are wondering how a project is being perceived by the market and general community, reading their Telegram and social media posts will give you useful information. You will see how they think, and a get a good look at actual market opinion.
Hype’s Affect Upon an ICO
Over the years, too many crypto lovers invested in hyped and overrated digital assets that promised a 10x ROI (return on investment). This incredibly large rate of return attracted many eager (sometimes a little too gullible) investors. They eventually learned that while the price of ICO tokens may in fact increase 3x or 10x; they can also fall just as much, and just as easily. Many tokens offered as a part of the early ICOs either never went to market, or failed miserably when they did. Of course there are no guarantees in traditional investing either, but crypto is still at a particularly volatile and treacherous stage of growth. Basically, an ICO token price should primarily be driven by business fundamentals, such as cash flow and profitability. But the wild swings in value, and the low barriers to launch an ICO, have grossly amplified the influence hype has upon an ICO token price. Naturally, investors are focused on their own return on investment more than anything else. So, that is where we will focus our attention now too. This return ultimately rests with the token price, and the ability of the investors to buy low and sell high. There are four key attributes or characteristics of hype which directly lead to stronger demand for a token, and thus, a higher price. If the ICO is backed by influential and well-known crypto investors/Venture Capitalists, the team is very likely to have a large investor base to which they can pitch the coin. This is also true for successful entrepreneurs with a good reputation and track record.
Hype’s Effect on the Team Behind ICO
The team structure behind an ICO plays an important role in the hype process. If an ICO is successful, the developers are likely to draw more attention to themselves, thereby becoming key figures in that success. In that way, an ICO allows a project to both fund an early stage idea, as well as to create a reputation among investors for the individuals involved. After having achieved success on previous ventures, as we have mentioned before, investors will be keen to invest based on an established track record. These factors encourage entrepreneurs to try new ideas as a benefit of having a greater funding profile and a tangible resume to use in all aspects of their business, not just fundraising. A strong resume like that encourages confidence that would allow an individual associated with a successful project to partner with larger, traditional firms. Such an individual would also be more valuable on other projects by both providing insight and access to more investment capital.
If you stay tuned, you must have learned a lot about the hype going around crypto, but what are its cons or even Dangers? Bitcoin alone has about a $284 billion USD market capitalization with about 16.4 million bitcoin in circulation. Hype brings out the latent greed in every investor. On any given day, media people may be discussing the endless potential of cryptocurrencies, or the unbelievable returns from crypto investments. While cryptocurrencies have a solid future ahead of them, with strong underlying technological principles, greed and fear will always induce people to create a world of hyperbole. Most investors do not really look as deeply as they should. They do insufficient research, or all too often, almost no research at all, before investing. This is human nature. Most people do not want to feel like they need to do homework again. People also become mesmerized by the success stories, and they just want to get a piece of the pie at whatever cost. It is always important to stay calm and rational. Stay diligent. Keep your mind focused on the long term too, not just the present moment. If you become too enamored with a project, or try to convince yourself nothing matters because “it will all just rise in value anyway” then you have lost your rational decision making ability. You should take a step back and ensure you aren’t being caught up in the hype.
Dangers of Hype Part 2
Hype and speculation give value to a newly launched coin. At that point you will own an intangible functional token in a very early stage company. The value of what you actually have is only what an exchange or someone else is willing to give you for that token on the open market. The price might move in your favor and earn you a fantastic return. But it can just as easily fall to zero. And in fact, this is exactly what has often happened. When you purchase a token without an underlying cash flow positive business, your entire investment is at the mercy of market expectations and the level of hype in a project. Future cash flows and success will either make or break your investment. The dangers of hype in cryptocurrency can never be overemphasized, and never be overlooked. After all is said and done, it is the average individual investor who will suffer most. Possible Downside from Exposure and Attention Speculative Investments Most newly launched ICOs depend upon the frenzy created by the primary cryptocurrencies (particularly BTC and ETH) hype for success. Most consumers/investors these days buy or invest in an ICO based upon speculative ideas about extraordinary returns. The hype can grow so much it does not leave adequate room for actual facts. The most unfortunate result of all this can be seeing your entire investment wiped out by unscrupulous characters selling you fraudulent coin offerings (ICOs) and scams. Hype can dazzle investors into making investment decisions they later regret. But there is no reason for you to ever make such an avoidable mistake in your own crypto career.
Possible Downside from Exposure and Attention §2 Speculative Investments Continued
For example, in January 2017, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) shut down an allegedly fraudulent initial coin offering (ICO) from a company called ‘AriseBank’. The SEC alleged that the ICO was an “outright scam” which falsely advertised and promised FDIC-insured bank accounts to investors through nonexistent banks. The value of the tokens fell to zero. The incredible hype and seemingly limitless potential of cryptocurrencies at the time, as well as this particular idea, led a large number of investors to commit capital to what was determined to be a scam. It is not only that they made grossly fraudulent claims, but there was simply no protection for investors at all. The investors were left with nothing. Some investors were surely all-in on this one project. Some investors had surely leveraged themselves to the max, borrowed too much, and had to stomach an extremely unpalatable loss. These are incredibly important things to keep in mind. Speculative investments will allow you to make a tremendous sum of money, but they can, and all too often will, take away those funds just as easily.
Hype can create Problems Real World Examples
Only a small fraction of the total ICOs being promoted have a working and viable prototype. Yet, every ICO is looking to sell investors on the likelihood of future success on that project. The Bancor ICO is a real-life example from June 2017. It raised up to $153 million in a matter of hours, but since the sale its value has plunged 38%. Some experts have since found big loopholes in their stated plans and intentions. The demise of many ICO projects is caused by such common issues as no viable product, not adhering to timeline, or a team that is distracted and/or not productive. Other coin scams have also successfully skimmed money from investors as a result of cryptocurrency frenzy. Projects like Benebit which scammed investors of up to $4.5 million by claiming to unify customer loyalty programs via blockchain technology. Benebit proved to be an exit scam, despite all of the major review sites rating the ICO positively. It was widely followed across social media, including 9000 people in its Telegram channel. Many people are still in the project’s Telegram attempting to understand what went wrong, and why.
In our previous posts we’ve talked a lot about the cons of the Hype, but have you ever thought if you can take it into your own hands?
Managing Hype for ICOs
You understand what hype is and what it does. You also need to know, what to do about it, how to manage it, either as a seller or investor aiming to be on the right side of price movements. Crypto is a recognized part of our financial landscape already. ICOs and the Blockchain are here to stay. The point of concern is, the course it will chart from here. It is rapidly becoming the new normal for entrepreneurs to get funding from communities of people or investors sharing an important unifying characteristic or value system. This has, as we have discussed previously, completely revolutionized “business” and the approach to starting, funding and growing a company. In 2017 alone, more than $5.6 billion was invested via ICOs. That huge sum brings real opportunity for growth, and equally real possibility for despair. You can learn from examples, how to manage hype for your own benefit and protection. In the whitepaper, the purpose of the ICO should be clearly stated and sufficient information should be given to investors explaining what the project is and why it deserves to be funded. This helps remove or discourage unnecessary speculation. A good and informative whitepaper helps encourage investors to make decisions based on reasonable conclusions as opposed to dreams and desires.
Always Have a Road Map Many ICOs we see on the internet for example, do not really have any long term plan for their product. ICO whitepapers should produce sufficient information on the timeline of the product and the sequence of necessary steps to get there. Questions such as: “When will a marketable product be available to be sold?” “What are the key risks to achieving any goal or aspect of the timeline?” These questions should be explained in the whitepaper, and supplemented with possible plans and alternate avenues to take if certain major issues arise. 6.3e)Managing Hype for ICOs §4 Many whitepapers might tend to overuse technical terms that sound like gibberish to ordinary intelligent people or investors. If you are trying to sell an idea to a broad spectrum of investors, it is important to explain key terms and themes so people are actually able to understand you. If a whitepaper is overly technical, yet seems to appeal to a broad base of investors anyway, it could be a red flag that the investors are confused, and that was perhaps the purpose of the whitepaper. Alternatively, maybe the team just isn’t particularly experienced at marketing their idea. That could also could present either an opportunity or a problem. One way or another, communication with the market will greatly influence the future price of the token.
Scam Projects Real World Examples
Multinational accounting firm Ernst and Young found that $400 million of the $3.7 billion USD raised from ICOs (as of January 22, 2018) had been stolen. That is, up to 10% of all ICO funding is virtually being stolen from investors. Though ICO scams are the most common method of theft in the crypto world, some projects will actually operate for a period of time before disappearing with the money. Like in a Ponzi scheme, an exit scam may be planned for later, sometime after a manipulated pump; or some other time the team believes is most opportune to take the money and run. Giza: Giza marketed itself as a platform within which different cryptocurrencies could be stored securely. But after raising $2.4 million in one month, the team deleted the website and stopped replying to emails. Investors were duped by a very convincing whitepaper, and actors had been hired to appear in photographs promoting the project. No investor funds have ever been recovered. Centra: The SEC put an end to fundraising for the Centra ICO and charged the founders Robert Farkas and Sohrab Sharma with orchestrating a fraudulent ICO after they raised $32 million USD. They were promoting the ability to develop financial products backed by VISA and Mastercard, though it was later found that neither partnership was real. One of the major red flags in the Centra project was the use of celebrity endorsements for publicity, reportedly paying champion boxer Floyd Mayweather a significant sum to promote their project. Who wants to leave their Blockchain investment decisions up to Floyd Mayweather, regardless of his unbelievable skill as a boxer and regardless of his own financial success? He should still not influence where you invest your money!
Davorcoin: Davorcoin was a lending platform very similar to
Indications of Scam Projects
It is currently an unfortunate consequence of the decentralized nature of cryptocurrency, but there is a distinct lack of recourse for scammed investors. It is wise to become as well-acquainted with the various indicators of good and bad ICOs as you possibly can. In weighing the factors that will allow you to avoid expensive mistakes, ask yourself in whose favor are the terms of the ICO slanted, yours or the teams? To what extent are you actually likely to profit from this investment? Cryptocurrency is inherently a grey area, whether you are investing in it or not. Investing is another inherently grey area, no matter what the area or object of investing might be. Laws and regulations are not always able to keep up. Trying to define and prove what was or was not a scam is not likely to be as simple as the scammed investor would want it to be. A project can be set up in certain ways to avoid being technically classified or provable as a scam, but the unprepared investor can still be burnt or scammed just as badly. Now we look at more individual indicators that can help you form a valid impression whether or not an ICO or even a fully-fledged exchange-listed coin is a scam or a bona fide investment opportunity.
Contrasting Scam & Legitimate Projects
Presale Bonus/Token Release If the ICO allots massive bonuses to team members, you may leave yourself open to getting dumped on by presale investors if you buy when the project tokens are listed on an exchange. Likewise, if the project has a short lock-up period for developers and founders, you run the risk of them selling as soon as the token is listed on a major exchange. The token release schedule for the founders of a worthwhile project should show long-term team commitment to that project. The
Unsolicited Offers or Unasked for Additions to Groups Characters running scam projects will often add you to Telegram groups out of the blue or send you unsolicited emails with information about their project. Telegram is the most widely used messaging app in the cryptocurrency community and you should familiarize yourself with it to keep yourself in the loop for specific projects in which you invest as well as all kinds of other relevant crypto info. You can adjust the settings on the Telegram app to disallow anonymous additions to cryptocurrency projects if you find yourself bombarded with offers by scammers. Reputable projects at the ICO stage will spread by word of mouth, or by eloquent and meaningful articles posted on their Medium page. A project with serious potential does not need to actively seek participants for their ICO like that. They will often be able to fill their ICO hard cap in a matter of hours, or even just minutes!
Alarm bells, again, immediately, if the project has minimal online presence. The individual team members could be mere fabrications. The entire project could be a farce by utterly inexperienced characters. What if the project leaders are simply unaware of the importance of a strong social media profile? That in itself would be too strange to ignore. Top-level projects will have team members with experience in crypto and the LinkedIn accounts for those members will be easily accessible right there on the project website. You should be able to easily see and evaluate each individual’s experience in their field and ascertain what they bring to the project team. Bitconnect’s anonymous team should have been the only deterrent prospective investors needed to discourage them from putting money into that doomed project. Ethhorse, a current project with anonymous founders and operators should be steered clear of at all costs for the same reasons.
The subreddits or Telegram groups of scam projects will often feature moderators that do not allow any kind of criticism in the group chat. If, in the process of your due diligence, you encounter didactic admins that only wish to silence your questioning of certain aspects of the whitepaper or mechanism of the tokenomics, you should be concerned. Similarly if you see a coherent critical reply attacked by many different users who refuse to engage the substance of the point being made, that may be a subreddit infested with bots. Projects that have nothing to hide will allow free debate in the chat. Ideally, they hope to develop a positive community that is itself an asset to the long-term success and overall strength of the project. Good projects do not need to automatically brand all criticism as Fear Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD).
One common tactic of scammers is to produce a whitepaper that uses too many buzzwords, and deliberately obfuscates and overcomplicates the explanation of the problem and/or its solution. A good whitepaper clearly and concisely lays out the problem and answer, as well as provides compelling arguments why a Blockchain solution is preferable to the current solution. Another point of concern is a whitepaper that gives unrealistic time frames and goals. Bitconnect’s almost comically optimistic profit projections are a prime example of this, as are the 1,354% yearly gains promised by Plexcoin. Respectable projects will set out development timescales in terms of quarters or years, rather than offering immediate profit projections, which are simply a red flag.
Advisors/Connections in the Cryptoworld
The most prestigious projects will already have partnerships made before the ICO stage, and the worst ones, i.e. the scams, will not mention any such partnerships. Icon (ICX) for example was spawned from a South Korean project named The Loop, a collaboration between 3 Korean universities and the DAYLI Financial Group. They boasted an advisory panel consisting of the legendary investor Don Tapscott, Jehan Chu and crowdfunding expert Jason Best. On top of a solid team of advisors, good projects will also be visible at major Blockchain events such as the Consensus, and the World Blockchain Forum, etc. Scam projects will be unable to inspire this same level in confidence. As an investor, you should sense a certain presence and expect a certain feeling of trust that should guide you in your investments. After all, it is actually a people-to-people thing you are doing.
Key Stress points upon the Timeline to Identify Scam Projects Post Whitepaper Release The period in the immediate aftermath of the release of the whitepaper can also be decisive in establishing the validity of a project. How a team copes with the roadmap that they have laid out for themselves is key. Valuable insight into the operational efficiency and commitment to the project can be gleaned from the quality of and amount of code committed to GitHub. If you have any experience in computer programming you can see how clean and orderly the code is, which gives insight into the skill of the developers, and in turn the quality of project leaders’ decision-making in hiring team members. Scam projects will have little or no code committed to GitHub, or at best it will be copied and pasted from other projects just to cover their tracks. Start of ICO Sometimes, a scam project, or other project in which you would be better off not investing, will change the terms of the ICO just before the ICO starts. The Key (TKY) ICO doubled the price of tokens on the day before the ICO was due to take place, because the price of NEO had risen so drastically. Currently, the TKY token price is still only half of its ICO price. Initial investors are faced with the prospect of a 50% loss on their investment.
Key Stress points upon the Timeline to Identify Scam Projects
Some particularly greedy scammers will create a scam project with the intent of selling tokens in the ICO for BTC and ETH, and then pumping and dumping their share of the tokens immediately after listing. The team of fraudsters behind Monero Gold used this method after the crowdfunding of their useless ERC-20 token. After listing on CoinExchange.io, the team dumped their tokens until the exchange finally ceased trading. Although it is not uncommon for ICO tokens to sold after listing (just like can happen with shares of stock after an IPO), if the price does not stabilize and massive sell walls are continually placed, a scam is likely taking place and the token is being dumped.
Real World Example of Scam Customers
Fake Ethereum Twitter giveaway
You may have noticed Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin’s twitter handle has been changed to Vitalik “Not giving away Eth” Buterin in recent months. This is because a group of devious scammers had created fake accounts with almost exact replicas of his profile (deviating by only one character). The fake accounts promised to deposit 1 whole ETH for every 0.1 ETH the potential sucker deposited into the wallet address provided by the scammer. These fake account “Ether giveaway” scam tweets were set up to be sent in just a matter of seconds after the real person tweeted, and usually always appear immediately after the tweet of the real public figure. Fake bot profiles then came into play, thanking the fake Vitalik, or fake Elon Musk, for holding up their end of the bargain and depositing the ETH as promised. One scammer, or group of scammers, managed to fill a wallet up with almost $20 thousand worth of ETH, which they transferred out, never to be seen or heard from again.
Effect of Scam Customers, Upon the Affected Parties
Of course, this is no fun for the targeted public figure either. They need to take steps to avoid being targeted again. This will mean changing their handle, their username, or making their accounts private. However, the injured party with whom we are most concerned is the unfortunate scammed social media user, who has no chance whatsoever of getting his or her funds back, ever. It is a harsh lesson to learn. But it is a fact of crypto reality. Nearly every one that trades crypto will at least be exposed to frauds or scams in one way or another. In this case, we think it is better to learn about scams by studying them, rather than learn from your own unfortunate and expensive experience. In the case of Mr. Buterin, these incidents were awful public relations for the Ethereum project. It had only been a few years since cryptocurrency as a whole was primarily associated with criminality and seedy transactions on the Darkweb. Any connection with unscrupulous behavior is best avoided at all costs. Negative associations could have been particularly damaging for Ethereum’s brand because the vast majority of ICO fraud is committed using the ERC-20 token as the template for the scam tokens.
Effect of Scam Customers on the Market
Any and all the scamming or fraudulent behavior in the cryptocurrency ecosystem is bound to have a negative impact on the speed at which mainstream uptake finally takes place. Cryptocurrencies, as an emerging asset class, will be painted in the worst possible light. Crypto is aiming to, and is in fact in the process of, causing great disruption in traditional centralized finance and business. Mainstream media organizations are also part of that traditional centralized economy. Press coverage will be damning. Something is happening here, but Mr. Jones doesn’t know what it is.
Legal Recourse for Scams
We clearly understand, there is a possibility of being scammed. We know the scams are happening. The SEC has made some arrests and actually charged people for operating fraudulent ICOs. But it is a struggle to deal with the flood of ICOs coming from anywhere at any time. The SEC filed charges against two founders of a purported financial services