So far, the crypto-space has had some major home runs, some fizzles, and fair number of outright scams. For folks who've been in any successful project for any considerable amount of time, the overall returns have been massive. This is because, once a few issues are ironed out, the crypto-world offers possibilities that are far better than any other fundraising mechanism. That may seem a bold claim, but there are two simple reasons why I believe crypto-fundraising will grow until it dominates the investment landscape over the next decades:
(1) More money
(2) Faster money
Getting more money faster is good for just about everybody. It means less time spent on fundraising and more time spent on building products with a net result of more over all innovation.
How can the crypto-space deliver on this? What keeps money from flowing and becoming stagnant? There are a few reasons, but one simple reason is that professional investors work in a very limited context. What you can and can't do in the world of venture capital is actually quite restrictive. Let's examine these restrictions to see why they are lame and figure out how it can be radically disrupted.
There are three basic components: A fund, a company, and a round. Funds are rather hard to set up. Companies are usually not too hard to setup. A round is a funny thing where a restricted amount of money is raised to fuel a company in its early stages.
What are the problems? Besides the high cost of entry, e.g. the difficulty of becoming an accredited investor, there's a huge problem in that, generally speaking, there's not a lot of time pressure for people to invest. And because they often have better things to do, they ignore you, the little peon, who is out trying to raise money.
What do people looking for money currently do? Well, generally speaking, they spend a lot of time talking to a lot of people and ultimately trying to create some forced scarcity and enthusiasm which then causes people to jump on and in. It's just hard to get people to act outside of their fixed schedules and assume the personal risk that an investment entails.
Many of these problems are already being solved in the cryptocurrency space. One fascinating change is that the round, something I've described as a sort of funny restriction, can be entirely reinvented. In some recent fundraisers there is a set number of tokens available, there is no lower limit to the number of tokens that can be purchased, and the tokens are immediately available on the market.
What does this mean? It means that the barriers to entry associated with normal funding rounds (like a minimum size of $10K) are dramatically decreased. It means that the possibility of profitable investments, because tokens can freely trade, are dramatically higher. This will naturally accelerate innovation.
One other innovation is to have a linearly decreasing rate of exchange. This means that in something with existing limits, say 30 days for 100,000,000 coins, that the rate of exchange can vary depending on how many coins are committed.
New Crypto-Investing Features
For instance, at the beginning of a fundraiser I could receive 5,000 coins per BTC for investing early and 3,000 coins per BTC for investing later. Unlike a traditional investment round, in which the lead investor takes on a lot of additional effort for no particularly obvious return, these rounds give a strong incentive for people to get in early.
Another very cool thing is programmable dividends. It is now trivial in Bitcoin 2.0 technology, at least with Counterparty (XCP), to issue dividends. However dividends don't have to be in Bitcoin or any currency, they can be a token that represents a free coffee at your favorite coffee shop.
These and a few other half dozen improvements on are the reasons why I'm incredibly optimistic that cryptofundraising is going to rock the world of mainstream finance, potentially serving as the largest factor driving the upward growth in value of the Bitcoin network.
Among other things, it opens up a world of possibilities that didn't exist before. What if your coffeeshop held an annual fundraiser and awarded a token that entitled you to a free coffee once a month? That's entirely technically feasible today, and, with the technology we are currently developing, will be a simple process.
As I see it, venture capital used to be cool. It was awesome when the first Harvard Business School guy met the first flannel shirt person and they gave birth to the semiconductor industry. Angels rejoiced in heaven, cherubs plucked their harps and slapped each other on the bum. But over time, like all industries, stagnation seeped in. Now venture capitalists are prancing ponies, waiting for people to come to them since they hold the ticket to success, and complaining about how they are oppressed.
What I see is a massive opportunity for disruption. One key aspect is that venture capital does a rather poor job at ensuring that end users' needs are met. This is especially true for startups that depend on engaged users like AirBnB. They depend immensely on cultivating a strong community, and yet over time as the investors take a larger share of the company, as much as the founders might wish to respect the users of the platform, they will always lose out when there is a conflict of interest. Engaged users lose, investors win.
This means that there is a powerful logic in allowing your users to be your investors, and it's now not just logic, it's business logic. You will be able to build new models of business which grow more rapidly and developed new patterns of corporate engagement that foster long term growth.
More money faster. More user engagement. More innovation. This is what we are building with Swarm.