On April 24, 2018, we posted an article entitled ICObench Warmer. In that article, we showed how experts at ICO rating site ICObench inflated the ratings of projects they were advising. Since then, several more articles have appeared denouncing what we lovingly refer to as the ICObench "Top-Rated Expert Cabal."
We are happy to see founders as well as members of the ICO support service industry speaking out against corruption. And ICObench deserve much of the blame.
But not all of it. Not even close.
For us, ICObench was the most obvious example of corruption in the industry and a great way to start the conversation. But it is equally important that ICObench doesn’t simply become the "fall guy" for the real problem...
The Entire ICO Support Service Industry is Corrupt AF
We hate to admit it, especially since the ass clowns 🍑🤡 behind Tokenicide are all members of that same industry. But after months of witnessing increasing amounts of greed and corruption first hand, we can arrive at no other conclusion. In addition to what sites like ICObench have been doing, here are a few other examples of what we've seen, covering all phases of the ICO launch process:
- Rampant plagiarism of content from whitepapers and websites with virtually no accountability (e.g., see our ICO Review: eInc and discussion of the "Pink Taxi" debacle);
- Blatant pay-for-play content promoting upcoming ICOs on social media (rarely with any mention of the fact that the content is sponsored, on YouTube, Twitter, Reddit, LinkedIn, etc.);
- Lawyers tripping over themselves to write opinion letters stating that a cryptographic token is not a security, even if it is;
- So-called “market makers” wash trading newly-created tokens to create artificial volume and price (at least until the lock-down period expires, when the founders and advisors can cash out); and
- All those exit scams.
There's more, of course. Lots more.
So Why Isn't This Bigger News?
If there‘s so much corruption in the industry, you’d think this would be all over the “crypto media.” But other than the work of independent bloggers (like us) and the occasional mainstream media piece, there hasn't really been much. Given their proximity to the industry, members of the "crypto media" would certainly be aware of what's going on and want to report on it, right?
Unless it's because of their proximity to the industry that they choose not to... 🤫💰
How Did the ICO Support Service Industry Get This Way?
One might wonder how things got so bad so fast. The recipe for the situation as it exists today is actually quite simple:
- First of all, ICOs have much lower barriers to entry (especially in terms of time and effort) compared to traditional startups. Instead of years, it's more like months.
- Second, ICOs have much higher fundraising potential than traditional startups for similar size projects and teams. A startup that would be lucky to raise $500,000 via traditional methods can raise $10,000,000 through an ICO.
And these first two create an enormous demand for ICO support services, by the way.
- Third and finally, the ICO support service industry discovered it could make a fuckton more money enabling and promoting low-quality blockchain projects than focusing on a few truly disruptive ones.
Mix those all together and -- voilà -- you've got yourself a heaping pile of fraudulent goodness!
So How Do We Fix It?
We did forget to mention the last, and perhaps most important ingredient, above. And that ingredient is silence.
During our research, we spoke with many founders, marketing consultants and other industry experts who privately acknowledged that ICObench was a racket. But instead of distancing themselves from the fraud and speaking out, they simply viewed it as a "when in Rome" situation (an exact quote, by the way). Fixing the problem starts with speaking up about it. And for that reason, we created an Anonymous Tip Form.
If you (or someone you know) has personally witnessed fraud or corruption relating to cryptocurrency or Initial Coin Offerings, please consider clicking the button above and sending us the information. You do not need to include any personally identifiable information unless you would like us to follow up with you. Alternatively, you may email us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Maybe if those of us who actually care about the technology (instead of just the money) work together, we can make it better, or at least less worse.
You either have to be part of the solution, or you're going to be part of the problem.