The Algo, native token of Ethereum competitor Algorand, is not yet listed on exchanges, but that hasn’t stopped investors from speculating that the blockchain start-up will be a major new player in the crypto ballpark.
Within four hours, the Boston-based startup, which is working towards building a borderless economy, sold 25 million Algos at $2.40 each. These are currently being transferred to buyers’ wallets.
Algorand plans a series of sales to allow the tokens to gradually enter the market, auctioning off 600 million Algos yearly until the total supply reaches 10 billion over the next five years. Investors have valued the hugely-ambitious project at $24 billion, assuming the price holds up.
Algorand boasts a transaction speed and low latency on a par with global payment networks such as Mastercard and Visa.
Juan Villaverde, who heads the Weiss Cryptocurrency Ratings team, said that the technology behind the project was admirable. But he sounded a note of alarm over the steep valuation:
“The token amount distributed to the public and the amount raised make no sense to us. It has an implied valuation close to that of Ethereum, the most successful and established smart contract platform in the world. In light of this, the token is sure to trade lower upon hitting exchanges, so we wonder if token holders' interests are being looked after here.”
However, On Yavin, founder and CEO of research and analysis firm Cointelligence, disagreed. “In this case the valuation might be right, because there is a great and serious vision, and a professional, dedicated team at work here,” he told Decrypt.
Algorand was founded by MIT professor and Turing Award winner Silvio Micali. He’s put together a crack team, including distributed computing pioneer, Maurice Herlihy, and Ethereum Virtual Machine developer Greg Colvin, who will play a prime role in creating atomic swaps, smart contracts and virtual machines for Algorand.
“We’re well into the design process,” Colvin told Decrypt. “Given the cryptography skills we have, we really want to push the state of the art. Silvio’s solved important scalability problems with blockchain, and that's pretty exciting.”
In addition to funds from Wednesday’s sale, Algorand has raised $66 million over the past year from investors including Union Square Ventures and Pillar Venture Capital.
The startup was in takeover talks with Facebook last year. The deal fell through, partly due to disagreements over the amount of control the social media giant would exert and how decentralised its cryptocurrency project, Libra, would be, sources familiar with the matter told the Financial Times.
Good call. Now let’s see it give Facebook a run for its Libra.