Don’t Get High On Your Own Supply

The DAO’s world record crowdsale was eclipsed one year later by the recent Bancor ICO. Bancor raised close to 400,000 ETH valued at $152 million. ICO mania is upon us and the number of projects raising in excess of $10 million is mind blowing.

The common theme amongst the ICOs is that the tokens are created using the Ethereum protocol. Additionally to subscribe, most ICOs require punters to tender Ether and only Ether.

The killer app so far for Ethereum are ICOs. The rampant FOMO induced greed means that newbies and old hands alike must obtain Ether. They either sell a fiat currency or Bitcoin to obtain the mana from Big Daddy Vitalik.

The rapid price appreciation of Ether is due, in large part, to the demand by speculators to buy ICOs. The price remains high after the ICO ends because most teams to date have not cashed out of their loot.

Most teams will not be able to return to the market again begging for more money if they misallocate their capital. The question for teams is how to protect the value of all the Ether raised. Failure to cash out or properly hedge, could mean a rapid evaporation of the paper wealth they now enjoy.

While they do hold physical ETH, salaries and expenses must be paid in domestic fiat currencies. Ethereum raised $18 million of Bitcoin in 2014, then failed to hedge that and thus to pay expenses was forced to liquidate some holdings at a 50% loss. The development roadmap also was altered due to lack of funds.

The current crop of ICO cool kids witnessed the hardships placed on the Ethereum development team by lack of hedging. At the first sign of Ether weakness, they will rush to the exit. The team who sells first, sells at the best prices. When it is known that ICO teams are cashing out, the stampede and its induced casualties will have everyone singing Hakuna Matata.

If I were an ICO team, I would apply a 50% haircut to the value of any ETH raised. Even if I wanted to sell it, I know I couldn’t because the liquidity would disappear long before I could liquidate my entire stack. All the buyers at the margin bought Ether to invest in the ICO, they won’t be around to catch falling knives during the correction.

Some in the community believe it is irresponsible for development teams to raise such god like sums of money. They protest that a few million dollars worth of crypto should suffice any project. Additionally, if all other teams do yuge ICOs, the liquidity won’t be there when you need to sell even if you raise a “responsible” amount of money. Game theory has thus set in and it is now in your best interest to follow the herd and raise as much as you can, expecting that you will only be able to spend a fraction of that amount.

Pop Goes the Weasel

The Bancor ICO set a new benchmark. The $500 million mark is my mental goal post for the height of insanity and that will be the day that Icarus will burn in the noon day sun. Tezos and or Eos are positioned to meet or eclipse that number.

My second mental goal post is if Ether reaches parity with Bitcoin in terms of market cap. The profit taking at that level could cause the ripple that forces a calamitous unwind of the 2017 ICO bubble.

The correction in Ether and the secondary market prices of ICO tokens, will be disorderly. However, even if you do agree with my views, don’t let your haterade preclude you from making money during this glorious bull market.