KEYNOTE ADDRESS: TECHNOLOGICAL OPPORTUNITY, BUBBLES AND INNOVATION: THE DYNAMICS OF INITIAL COIN OFFERINGS

Using unique data on over 1,000 crypto tokens, we provide the first, comprehensive exploration of the phenomenon of Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs). ICOs are increasingly used by entrepreneurs, open source teams, and established players in the blockchain space to raise capital, attract developers to an ecosystem, crowdsource key resources, and encourage usage by early adopters. After exploring the economics of token sales and blockchain technology, we present novel data on the characteristics of different tokens, the teams behind them, their evolution and performance. Our findings highlight that contrary to common belief, while many ICOs are launched by teams across the globe, a
disproportionate share of capital still flows to traditional entrepreneurial hubs. Investors, instead, are more geographically dispersed. By focusing on founders and their skills, the codebases they maintain, and information contained in their white papers, we further separate high potential projects from lower quality ones.

Christian Catalini, PhD, Fred Kayne (1960) Career Development Professor of Entrepreneurship & Assistant Professor of Technological Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Strategic Management, MIT Sloan School of Management