The Rise and Fall of ICOs: All you need to Know


Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) used to be the talk of the town in the cryptocurrency world. Imagine a digital version of a grand opening for a new company, where people could invest in digital coins or tokens hoping for big returns. It was exciting, but it also had its ups and downs, just like a roller coaster.

What Is an Initial Coin Offering (ICO)?

Think of an ICO as a way for new crypto startups to get money. It was like buying a ticket to a new ride at an amusement park before it’s even built. Instead of dollars or coins, people invested their cryptocurrency—like Bitcoin or Ethereum—to get these new tokens or coins.

The Rise: The ICO Boom

Back in 2017, ICOs were booming. It was like a gold rush in the digital world. New startups were popping up everywhere, offering their shiny new tokens to anyone willing to invest. People were excited, and the prices of these new tokens skyrocketed without much proof or products behind them.

The Excitement Fades: The ICO Bust

But then, things started to go downhill. Many of these startups didn’t really have a plan or a solid product. Some turned out to be scams, promising big things but delivering nothing. People lost their money, and the prices of these tokens crashed hard. It was like a huge balloon that popped suddenly.

Lessons Learned

  • Research Is Key: Investing blindly is like riding a roller coaster blindfolded. Always do your homework, learn about the company, and understand what they are planning to do with the money they get from the ICO.
  • Too Good to Be True: If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Unrealistic promises of guaranteed profits should raise red flags.
  • Watch Out for Scams: Unfortunately, not everyone in the crypto world has good intentions. Always be cautious, and if something feels fishy, it’s better to stay away.

The Future of Fundraising

While the ICO craze faded, it left behind some lessons. People realized the importance of transparency, real plans, and proof of concept before investing in new projects. Instead, new methods like Security Token Offerings (STOs) and Initial Exchange Offerings (IEOs) came up, trying to address the issues that led to the downfall of ICOs.

Initial Coin Offering (ICO) vs. Initial Public Offering (IPO)

The Rise and Fall of ICOs

Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) and Initial Public Offerings (IPOs) are both ways for companies to raise funds, but they operate in different realms: ICOs in the cryptocurrency space and IPOs in the traditional stock market.

Initial Coin Offering (ICO):

  • Nature: ICOs involve the sale of digital tokens or coins by cryptocurrency startups to raise funds.
  • Investors: Investors in ICOs typically purchase these tokens using cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or Ethereum.
  • Regulation: ICOs were known for their lack of strict regulations, which led to concerns about scams and fraudulent activities.
  • Access: ICOs were open to a global audience, enabling anyone with internet access to participate.
  • Purpose: Companies used ICOs to crowdfund their projects, often at an early stage, without the need for intermediaries like banks or venture capitalists.

Initial Public Offering (IPO):

  • Nature: IPOs are the process through which a private company offers shares of its stock to the public for the first time.
  • Investors: IPO investors purchase shares in the company, becoming shareholders and part-owners of the company.
  • Regulation: IPOs are highly regulated by financial authorities to protect investors’ interests and ensure transparency.
  • Access: IPOs are usually available to institutional investors and accredited individuals through brokerage firms.
  • Purpose: Companies opt for IPOs to raise capital for various reasons, such as expanding operations, paying off debts, or allowing early investors and founders to cash out their investments.

Key Differences:

  1. Asset Type: ICOs sell digital tokens representing a stake in a project or a utility within a network, while IPOs sell shares of a company.
  2. Regulation: ICOs were initially less regulated compared to IPOs, leading to concerns about investor protection and fraudulent activities.
  3. Investor Access: ICOs often provided global access to retail investors, while IPOs were typically accessible to institutional investors and accredited individuals.
  4. Currency: ICOs involved cryptocurrency transactions, whereas IPOs deal in fiat currency (government-issued currency like USD, EUR, etc.).
  5. Purpose and Stage: ICOs were often conducted in the early stages of a project, while IPOs usually occur when a company is more established and ready to enter the public stock market.

Understanding the differences between ICOs and IPOs is crucial, especially for individuals considering investment opportunities, as they operate in distinct markets with different risks, regulations, and investment mechanisms.


ICOs were like the exciting new ride at the amusement park that everyone wanted to try. But just like any roller coaster, they had their thrilling highs and painful lows. Learning from the ICO boom and bust can help everyone, especially teens dipping their toes into the cryptocurrency world, make smarter investment decisions in the future.

The cryptocurrency world is always changing, and understanding the history of ICOs is just one part of this ever-evolving landscape.


  1. Jump up to:a b “Company Halts ICO After SEC Raises Registration Concerns”SEC. Retrieved 2017-12-15.
  2.  “Carey Olsen and JTC advise ARC Fiduciary Ltd on Jersey’s first ICO”Carey Olsen. 14 December 2017. Retrieved 2017-12-15.
  3. Shifflett, Shane; Jones, Coulter (May 17, 2018). “Buyer Beware: Hundreds of Bitcoin Wannabes Show Hallmarks of Fraud”Wall Street Journal. Retrieved May 18, 2018.
  4. “ICO – HOWEYCOINS If You Responded To An Investment Offer Like This, You Could Have Been Scammed – HoweyCoins Are Completely Fake!”Investor.govU.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Retrieved May 18, 2018.


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