On Monday, crypto platform Tron completed the token sale for its upcoming “BitTorrent Speed” platform, flogging 50 billion “BitTorrent tokens” ($7.1 million) to investors in under 15 minutes, via crypto exchange Binance Launchpad. The tokens, called BTT, will allow BitTorrent users with larger bandwidths to “jump the queue” and receive downloads faster.
BitTorrent Speed has been greeted with more than a little controversy since Tron purchased the company for $126 million in July 2018 and announced that it would be doing a token sale. An ex-CEO said BitTorrent’s daily traffic would “melt” Tron’s capacity. Private companies tasked with running Tron’s infrastructure told Decrypt that they were increasingly squeezed for cash. Tron’s defense of its underlying tech was characterised as opaque.
Still, it may seem a surprise that a widely recognised brand like BitTorrent could only rake in $7.1 million, whereas pie-in-the-sky buzzword pile-ups like EOS drew in $4 billion last year. Or gee, remember when Mozilla raised $35 million in 30 seconds? Well, that dream is apparently over now. We’ll have to settle for BitTorrent’s paltry $7.1 million.
It might have something to do with this, er, rather glaring small print…
“Users from the following countries aren’t able to participate in the BitTorrent token sale on the Binance Launchpad platform: Afghanistan, Albania, Belarus, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Burundi, Central African Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia,Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Mainland China, Myanmar (Burma), North Korea, Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Serbia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Thailand, Trinidad & Tobago, Tunisia, Uganda, Ukraine, United States of America (USA), Venezuela, Yemen, and Zimbabwe. This list of excluded countries may be subject to change and may vary from project to project….”
It’s a relief that the United States appears to adhere to the same, exacting regulatory standards as North Korea, Yemen and Syria. The reason for its exclusion, of course, is that US regulators are increasingly applying securities laws to ICOs—whether or not the century-old laws fit.
The result of this, says attorney Pat Berarducci, Deputy General Counsel of ConsenSys and co-chair of crypto legal consortium The Brooklyn Project, is that companies are put off from selling to US investors, and those that do are left with unappetising options. “Projects who want to include US purchasers either just apply securities laws and limit their sales to accredited investors, or they subject their would-be customers to arduous registration/compliance processes to ensure they want to use the product and therefore, hopefully, don’t implicate securities laws (as with FOAM and Civil),” he says. (Meanwhile, sanctions on the other countries cited pose money-laundering concerns.)
“The [securities] requirements aren’t designed for software products that are meant to be used or consumed. They are meant for passive financial instruments. If you apply them to usable software, you make the software much more difficult to use. For example, if you create a decentralized Uber, where drivers and riders need to stake a token to ensure reputation, then it’s pretty obvious that the platform won’t generate network effects [positive reinforcement between companies and customers] if the only people eligible to drive are accredited investors.”
So no more speculative mania for you, United States.
Indeed, it does seem that last year’s mania has finally given way to real interest and optimism about the underlying tech. On the BTT token’s official Telegram group, the technologically savvy share insights on what the peer-to-peer future might bring, engage in civil discussion over the merits of Tron’s governance protocol and…just kidding. They’re mainly talking about pumping the price.
The ICO spirit lives on.