To ICO, Or Not To ICO?

To ICO, Or Not To ICO?

I looked when I started this article and Bitcoin was at $7,461 on $2.7B in daily volume. This astonishing price run has much to do with the booming ICO market, but I've found one project that seems to be doing everything right, yet they are pointedly not going to do an ICO, not any time soon, and maybe not ever.

LBRY bills itself as “ a free, open, and community-run digital marketplace.” As a user you download a client, it quickly catches up with the project's blockchain, and then you're presented with an interface that looks a bit like YouTube. Once you poke around a bit you'll find that it's not just video, there are downloadable documents, and a LBRY insider tells me the system will stream pretty much all media formats.

The second line among the offerings today is Cop Chronicles, an LBRY original series. As you scroll to the right there are free sample videos, actual episodes for 0.75 LBC, and then a couple of PDFs of posters for the series. An LBC is $0.134 USD today, so for $1.40 you can get all seven fifteen minute episodes and the art work. I watched the trailer and episode one; the work compares favorably to some of the things offered on Amazon. It's easy to see how LBRY could become a testing ground for new concepts, or maybe they'll carve out an advertising free fan supported media niche.

So the LBRY blockchain is used to create the venue for fans to fund the work of artists, but the content is far too voluminous. Taking a page from the BitTorrent playbook, files are distributed across the network using a similar protocol. Since the project is new, the founders are providing a few of what they call reflectors, fast sites that mirror content so if a new release does get mobbed it will still propagate quickly.

The initial interface is deceptively minimal; there are 150,000 pieces of content spread across 3,000 channels with more arriving every day. It's clear they need to do more on tags and search methods, but there is already quite a bit of good stuff.

LBRY is doing great on actual content, there is obviously a community, and twenty eight contributors have made over 3,000 commits to the project on GitHub. But there is no white paper. That's two out of three prerequisite for an ICO. Founder Josh Finer had a concise answer when I asked why they weren't pursuing it:

"We weren't comfortable with the legal uncertainty and bad incentives created by ICOs. More importantly, we wanted to deliver something tangible and real for people to use, not sell coins on a promise we potentially could fail to deliver. Prioritizing a real product and real users over coin speculation has put us way ahead in terms of building something people actually want to use”

The $14 million market cap and the $151,000+ 24 hour volume look like a healthy coin, albeit one that's not nearly exciting as the $63 million market cap and $12.7 million dollars day they had on June 22nd of this year. But LBRY are OK with that, they're planing on making their money the old fashion way - a dime at a time.