2017 was an incredible year for Initial Coin Offerings. According to various reports, the overall amount of funds raised through ICOs in 2017 ranges from a fiat equivalent of $4 bln to $5.6 bln. At the end of 2016, this figure stood at ‘just’ $225 mln.
That said, according to the same reports, less than a half of the total number of ICOs held in 2017 were actually successful, while 25 percent of the overall amount was raised by just 10 projects. Those statistics once again prove that potential investors need to be very careful when choosing a startup to invest in.
In this installment of our guide on ICOs, we will discuss 10 of the most successful ICO campaigns to date. However, as this guide is created for investors, not startups, we will focus on projects with the biggest Returns On Investment (ROI). To put it simply, ROI measures the amount of return on an investment relative to the cost of said investment.
Here’s a helpful formula:
If you want to check the current ROI ratio of any given project, all you need to is compare their token’s price at the time of an ICO to its current value.
The ICO fiat price is usually calculated by dividing the amount of money in USD raised during the campaign by the number of tokens sold during it.
You can always look up a token’s value on any exchange it is listed on (a simple Google search should point you in the right direction). Alternatively, you can use CoinMarketCap, which lists pretty much every token there currently is.
It is important to mention that there can’t possibly be a definitive list of top 10 ICOs of all time, as a possible return on investments fully depends on the current value of a project’s token. Naturally, there is quite a lot of movement on the all-time top performers list. Anyway, here’s our list of best performing ICOs in terms of returns on investment as of the end of February 2018:
1. NXT — 1,265,555% ROI
NXT is one of the oldest Blockchain-related projects out there. The official announcement was made on the BitcoinTalk forum on Sep. 28, 2013 by an anonymous developer, who claimed to be a veteran member of the forum using a new account to stay anonymous.
In this announcement, NXT was described as a descendant of Bitcoin, which was meant to improve some features of Bitcoin, resolve some of its issues, such as a bloated Blockchain, and switch to a proof-of-stake mining algorithm.
The crowdfunding campaign was held on the forum as well. By the end of it, the anonymous developer managed to amass around $16,800 worth of Bitcoin, distributing one bln tokens. So, the NXT token’s value during its ICO was just $0.0000168. At the time of writing, the token was trading for $0.213, generating astronomical profits for its early investors and making it the most profitable ICO token ever at today’s market valuations.
Today, NXT is a fully-operational advanced Blockchain platform. It provides its users with a modular toolset, which enables them to build their own Blockchain-related applications. The platform also has its own asset exchange, a messaging system and a marketplace.
2. IOTA — 424,084% ROI
The name of the projects is a synecdoche based on the term IoT, or “Internet of Things.” The term is used to describe an envisioned future in which many different “things,” such as appliances, cars, automatic service providers and so on communicate with each other. For example, a smart fridge capable of automatically re-ordering certain products and automatically paying for it. IOTA aims to provide a token for such transactions.
Moreover, IOTA is the only major cryptocurrency which doesn’t actually use a full Blockchain to perform transactions. Instead, it runs on a system called The Tangle. The system requires its users to verify a transaction at the exact same the as it is being conducted. This solves the scalability issue, which is one of the most pressing problems for a lot of cryptocurrency networks out there and allows for transactions without any fees.
All of this makes IOTA is an innovative, stand-out project. Moreover, it aims to provide service to an extremely new market, quite obviously looking ahead and planning for the future. So, it’s easy to see why their ICO held at the end of 2015 was a success, with over $400,000 raised. All of one bln IOTA tokens were sold for less than $0.001. These days, it trades at around $1.8.
3. Neo (Formerly Antshares) — 378,453% ROI
Neo is a project often referred to as “China’s Ethereum.” It also utilizes smart contract applications, but also adds decentralized commerce, digitized assets and identification into the mix.
The Chinese developers are creating a Blockchain that would represent legal proof-of-ownership and will be accepted by the broader society, not just the cryptocurrency community.
At the time of their ICO, there probably wasn’t even a single investor out there doubting whether it’ll be worth investing in Neo. The project was backed by such big names as Microsoft and Alibaba. Naturally, their ICO held in October 2015 was a big success, they sold 17.5 mln tokens raising $556,500. A year later, in September 2016, Neo had a second crowd sale during which they sold 22.5 mln tokens and raised over $4.5 mln dollars.
The original ICO price of the Neo token was $0.032. At the time of writing, the cryptocurrency was trading at $120.38. The token was at its all-time high on Jan. 31st, 2018, trading at $162.11.
4. Ethereum — 279,843% ROI
Every single person who is even remotely interested in cryptocurrencies has heard of Ethereum. It is a public, open-source distributed ledger platform, which enables its users to create and run decentralized applications (dapps) as well as implement and use smart contracts.
The platform’s mastermind Vitalik Buterin is perhaps the most well-known person and sort of a poster-boy for the entire cryptocurrency community. Moreover, through their Enterprise Ethereum Alliance, the platform works in cooperation with hundreds of major clients, including world’s biggest corporations, towards the implementation of Blockchain technology and smart contracts into business worldwide.
Ethereum’s ICO was held in the summer of 2014. Naturally, it was a great success – the team managed to raise $15.5 million, selling 50 mln tokens at the price of $0.311 per token. Today, Ethereum trades at $871.8. On Jan. 14th, 2018, Ethereum reached its all-time high of $1,377.72.
5. Spectrecoin — 149,806% ROI
Spectrecoin is one of several cryptocurrency networks that prioritize privacy and anonymity above everything else. In order to achieve this, Spectrecoin combines a Blockchain with a tokenized ring signature scheme.
In cryptography, a ring signature is a type of digital signature which can be done by any member of a group of users that each have keys. It is impossible to trace which particular member of the group signed for a transaction. Moreover, any group of users can be used as such group without any additional setup.
Unlike most other cryptocurrency networks, Spectrecoin utilizes the Tor network in order to increase the network-level privacy. All the nodes communicate with each other exclusively through Tor, meaning that Spectrecoin transactions go through a series of “middlemen” before reaching their destination, thus becoming untraceable. The network even offers a way to hide the fact that it uses Tor via a technology called OBFS4.
The team behind Spectrecoin (naturally, completely anonymous) held its ICO from Nov. 18th, 2016 to Jan. 6th, 2017. 19 mln tokens were sold and the team managed to raise $15,500. Each token was sold at just $0.001, while these days it trades at $1.22.
6. Stratis — 102,338% ROI
Stratis is a project that offers end-to-end solutions for development, testing and deployment of Blockchain applications for businesses worldwide. The project’s main slogan is “We make Blockchain easy for you.” Indeed, the startup created a platform that is fully compatible with .NET and C#. Having done that, they struck gold.
First of all, their project appeals to basically every major enterprise out there that uses Microsoft products. Secondly, Microsoft themselves actually added Stratis’ Blockchain-as-a-service (BaaS) to its Azure cloud service, which is aimed at businesses wishing to create in-house Blockchain solutions.
With such overwhelming support from Microsoft, Stratis’ ICO was always going to be a success. The project managed to raise $610,000. The tokens were sold for $0.007, while their current value is $7.45. Stratis reached its all-time high of $21.21 on Jan. 8th, 2018.
7. Ark — 37,805% ROI
Ark is all about integration and collaboration. Their main goal is to create an entire ecosystem of linked Blockchains, essentially bringing them together into one massive “spiderweb of use-cases.” The project seeks to integrate other cryptocurrencies into its Blockchain.
Interestingly enough, the project is collaborative and decentralized through and through: it has 17 core members hailing from 11 different countries.
The project held its ICO in November to December 2016, managing to raise almost $950,000. Its token’s ICO price was just $0.01. Currently, it stands at $3.77. On Jan. 10th the token managed to reach $10.20, setting its all-time record.
8. Lisk — 26,367% ROI
Lisk is the world’s first modular Blockchain-based platform. What this means is that it has a mainchain - a chain that currently hosts the LSK currency and will become a hub for all sidechains once the platform is fully live. Sidechains are very much like personal Blockchains, they can be easily built and tailored with Lisk’s tools.
The project has many big-name players from Ethereum on board, so naturally, their ICO was an astounding success. Held in February and March of 2016, the crowdfunding campaign brought the List team $5.7 mln. The token was sold for $0.076, and it is now worth $20.24. Its all-time high was $38.8, set on Jan. 7th, 2018.
9. DigixDAO — 12,044% ROI
One of the main features of Ethereum is that it enables its users to create and run DAOs or Decentralized Autonomous Organizations. It is a completely new way of structuring businesses, as there are no bosses or people in charge of the entire company. Instead, all the decisions are made via proposals and voting.
DigixDAO was one of the first major DAOs to be created on the Ethereum platform. Interestingly enough, the project uses two tokens: DGD and DGX.
DGD tokens were sold to the investors during the ICO. It is worth noting that when it comes to DAOs, token sales are held not just to attract funds. Purchased coins actually give the investors voting rights in proposals submitted to the DAO. This way, every token holder can take part in shaping the future of the organization.
DigixDAO aims to create a new and stable cryptocurrency, backed by actual bars of gold. This is where the DGX tokens that represent one gram of gold come into play. The gold bars have all gone through a Proof of Asset protocol and their existence is proven on the Ethereum Blockchain. DGX tokens can actually be recanted into gold bars and redeemed by every token holder.
The participating custodian vault is located in Singapore and it is capable of safely storing up to 30 tons of gold. In the future, however, DigixDAO is hoping to open more vaults around the world.
DigixDAO made history holding the very first Ethereum’s on-chain crowdsale. In March 2016, the project managed to raise its target of $5.5 mln in just 12 hours. The DGD tokens were sold for $3.235, and their current value stands at $392.88. The token reached its all-time high of $409.6 on Feb. 3rd, 2018.
10. QTUM — 9225% ROI
QTUM, which is actually pronounced “quantum,” is a project the bridges Ethereum’s smart contracts with Bitcoin Core’s stable Blockchain, all the while utilizing a proof-of-stake algorithm for verification. The main goal of the project is to increase the range of applications utilizing smart contracts, especially for business purposes.
Thus, QTUM benefits from the best of the new developments from both Bitcoin and Ethereum communities. Also, QTUM is aiming to introduce tools, templates and various other smart contracts options to make building and executing smart contracts for businesses easier and more secure.
QTUM held its ICO in March 2017 and managed to raise $15.6 mln in 117 hours. The tokens were sold for $0.3, while their current value stands at $27.2. An all-time high of $103.45 was reached on Jan. 8th, 2018.
So far you’ve already learned how to evaluate the legitimacy and possible returns of an ICO and had a look at some of the all-time greats. In case you’ve decided to take part in an upcoming project, but need more information on what is happening and when, Cointelegraph got you covered: here’s our ICO calendar.