I did an ICO in 2000 (well almost), why it didn’t work and why it makes me passionate about crypto currencies
I only recently immersed myself in the world of Bitcoin and Blockchain, but I find a lot of analogies with two start-ups that I co-created on the subjects of “shareholder client” and “digital currencies” .
In 2000, I co-created with Dimitri Ducourtieux the DAOODA Company, a shopping portal similar to Kelkoo with the difference that when you buy on sites such as Cdiscount, you earn points, the “daoos”. These points were redeemable for … stock in our company (for those too young to remember, start-up stocks in 2000 were as exciting as bitcoins today, everyone wanted them ).
However, in France to allot shares to the public you have to make a Public Call for Savings. Nothing stopping us we went head first to the COB (ancestor of the AMF) which politely sent us home (there were two of us and a company in creation… a little light to submit a visa application). It was then that we came across a very clever lawyer who found the legal angle allowing us to force our way: debt set-off (to put it simply, we had generated a debt vis-à-vis the buyer and had the right to grant him shares to honor him). We therefore created the concept of the Internet shareholder: the shareholder.
Some articles from the time:
– “The shareholder therefore owns part of the value that he himself will have created as a consumer, host or visitor of the DAOODA purchasing portal“01Net.
– “Loyalty. Star of any self-respecting commercial company, the client has just invited himself into the debate on the distribution of capital between shareholders and employees. The echoes
– “By granting its visa to Daooda, the COB has enabled an unlisted company, for the first time in France, to open its capital to its customers in proportion to their purchases. Almost 80% of Internet users have declared their intention to become daooda shareholder since January 15, 2001 ”. The workshop
Our “token” at the time did have a utility for the company and therefore its shareholders (it served as an inexpensive marketing argument to make us known to consumers), a value for the user who won a reward – reward that could increase in value if the company performed well – which prompted the buyer to to contribute to the creation of value (by recommending our site, posting reviews, etc.)
We therefore find here the keywords of the concept of Bitcoin and the Blockchain which in fact upsets the triptych consumer – shareholder – employee base of capitalism even though the objectives of these three actors are different. With the Blockchain everyone participates and benefits from the fruits of the economy created, the borders between the three actors are reduced or even disappeared.
The state of mind was therefore close to ICOs, at least ICOs which have a token linked to securities (security token vs utility token).
You can guess that I am one of those who thinks that ICOs have positive virtues for entrepreneurs AND investors. Of course, they must be regulated (many ICOs are made on projects that would not pass the filter of seed funds). But with a little foresight and by anticipating what will happen post-regulation, the fundamentals of ICOs are in my opinion good for the market in that they democratize access to startups and allow shorter-term liquidity. for investors on the one hand and open an international market and in a purely digital approach for entrepreneurs.
It remains difficult for an entrepreneur based in a region to find capital if he does not have access to investment funds and does not meet certain criteria which are often subjective. Individual investor rating, either he just does not have access to start-ups or he has invested in an investment fund (via FCPI or other), in which case the information he receives from investment funds is a lot smaller than those to which he could have access in an ICO (many ICOs are commented on in detail by experts, whether they come from the world of investment funds, technology, etc.). That’s why I think there is something fundamentally fairer for different parties in the ICO mechanism. Investment funds will obviously always have a role to play, but the blockchain revolution will also push them to transform by offering more transparency and offering more services to entrepreneurs.
For the record, a few weeks after having our visa approved by the COB the internet bubble burst, as much to tell you that nobody was any more interested in having actions – even free – of start up, we then pivoted twice before stabilizing the company which had become an ad network. Even if the Bitcoin “bubble” does burst I don’t think the allure of cryptocurrencies will disappear given the ecosystems that are being put in place.
A few years later we launch a new company based in Silicon Valley that creates a bridge between virtual currencies and major brands. We have created in 2010 Ifeelgoods which, at its launch, allowed companies to offer facebook virtual currency – facebook credit – as a gift to their customers.
Facebook had just launched in 2010 a currency that made it possible to buy credits for games (including the flagship game Farmville) or to watch streaming movies in the Facebook interface. We had signed an exclusive deal with Facebook that allowed us to connect to their API and give users credits in real time. The user experience was unique because the user did not need to enter a code, all they had to do was connect to their Facebook account to immediately receive their credits after having either purchased a product online, made a check in in a store or subscribe to a newsletter.
The user experience was therefore unique and incomparable with the majority of other means that allow you to credit an account or offer a gift.
Facebook currency had more impact than dollars. People were on facebook playing for hours a day. What interested them was not dollars, it was facebook credit to play. The dollar had become a useless gateway. A more necessary step.
What the customer wants is a McDo, so a Mc Credits would suit him just as well, or Nike Credits, Air France credits (miles?) What the consumer wants is the object / brand, not the dollars that buy it. And he wants it right on his phone. Small flashback with an article I wrote some time ago on branded currencies: https://www.linkedin.com/
What I have experienced as an entrepreneur over the past 20 years with the logic of the client shareholder and the simplicity and efficiency of virtual currencies made me very receptive to the concept of crypto currencies.
It becomes nearly impossible to compete with Google, Amazon or Facebook in their field, but there is a good chance that the structure that will succeed will come from a decentralized approach. Maybe not the current first generations like Telegram which will raise more than $ 2 billion with its ICO, but maybe the second or third generation. It is not neutral that Mark Zuckerberg announced that his goal for 2018 was to better understand cryptocurrencies.
Millions of virtual currencies will be created (necessarily with the support of ICO) currencies linked to real estate assets, shares, property titles, national currencies which will be indexed to virtual currencies etc … It is very likely that all tangible or intangible assets will one day exist on the blockchain. All the assets of the world would become programmable and fractionable! The ecosystem that is setting up at a speed never seen before will bring sudden changes in the way we do things and will quickly disintermediate many trades.
“Cryptographical solutions might with great propriety be introduced into academies as the means of giving tone to the most important of the powers of the mind.” – Edgar Allan Poe
This New York Times article discusses how students have grasped opportunities faster than their teachers and are extremely demanding of training. The first training in token economics, smart contract, or crypto currency law is provided. Banks, schools, governments are adapting, a new world is on the move. 1 in 20 people hold cryptocurrency in the Netherlands, 1 in 3 employees hold it in Korea, imagine a world with the same percentages in all countries of the world.
I was quite astonished to read the very negative (and not very documented) opinions of internet pioneers who suffered like me from negativity when we started (internet is useless, it will never work, this is not secure… etc…). Constructive criticism, yes, negativity, that doesn’t help. I hope that our government will not hinder this blockchain revolution but on the contrary create a favorable ecosystem allowing France to be a major player in this new world.
You are young, want to undertake: enter the matrix! It’s an opportunity like we see every 20 years
Serial entrepreneur in the digital world, Michael launched three companies in France (web development, ad-network and digital media agency) which he sold in 2007 before leaving for Palo Alto where he created feelgoods in 2010. Michael is invested in the start-up ecosystem, he is an investor in around ten start-ups, 3 investment funds, ambassador for French Tech and board member StationF and mentor of several organizations and start-ups.