Butler also wrote on Twitter today –– in response to commentators mostly negative speculation about the company running an ICO based on a job listing –– that the company is “exploring issuing a token as an alternative to traditional VC funding.”
The service’s potential crypto token is evidently to be dubbed “ProtonCoin,” according to what appears to be the project’s official site, which was quietly launched on June 19. According to domain registrar service godaddy.com, the protoncoin.com domain was created on Feb. 27, 2017, and updated on Jan. 29, 2018.
The ProtonCoin site provides almost no details about the potential token’s functionality, technological basis, and sale logistics. It does however provide a general description of the coin’s “purpose,” including a “way for the general public to participate in the growth and expansion of ProtonMail and the entire Proton ecosystem, centered around the ideas of security and privacy,” as well as a misleading press section featuring articles only about ProtonMail’s existing, core services.
Despite the crypto Twitter community discussing the possibility of an ICO from ProtonMail only today, the company’s plans have apparently been in the works for some time. Reddit user ProtonMail, evidently the official account of the email provider, posted in subreddit r/protoncoin as early as March 7 that “ProtonMail team does intend to release a cryptocoin in the future.” The project also has sparsely populated official Twitter and Facebook accounts, in addition to reddit.
An official ProtonMail spokesperson told Cointelegraph today that the company is as yet unsure if they will proceed with a token sale, clarifying that “if we do it [...] it's going to be within the year."
Echoing Butler’s tweet from earlier today, the spokesperson also explained to Cointelegraph that the company is “viewing this [an ICO] as an alternative fund-raising tool to VC money, not as a cash-out."
ProtonMail was developed in 2013 by scientists and engineers at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), as stated on their website.
ProtonMail’s potential token sale is not the company’s first foray into cryptocurrency. The company officially announced that it would accept Bitcoin (BTC) as a payment method in August 2017. The announcement also noted that the project has “always been quite interested in cryptocurrencies and blockchain, as they empower the same principles that inspired us to create ProtonMail.”