Funding New Ventures with Digital Tokens: Due Diligence and Token Tradability
25 Pages Posted: 7 Mar 2019 Last revised: 31 Mar 2020
Date Written: January 20, 2019
We study funding mechanisms for new ventures based on cryptographic tokens enabled by blockchain technology, such as initial coin offerings (ICOs). The infrastructure built around blockchain allows for efficient trading of these tokens. Thus the due diligence process can be crowdsourced beyond the potential early adopters, as favorable assessments of the venture can be leveraged with speculative token purchases exceeding the buyer's individual demand. We develop a model for an entrepreneur considering digital tokens to finance a new venture, focusing on token tradability and broader crowdsourcing of due diligence. We then compare funding via digital tokens with funding from traditional financing sources like venture capital as well as with pre-sale crowdfunding with non-tradable rewards.
We find that tradable digital tokens are more attractive when there is higher uncertainty about market demand, which is frequently the case when developing applications of new technologies, such as blockchain-based platforms. In such cases crowdsourcing due diligence benefits from the information contained in the private valuations of the early potential adopters. Token tradability leverages that information and increases the amount that can be financed, thus enabling new ventures with higher development costs. The increased funding comes at the cost of a lower digital token price and lower total profit for the entrepreneur, but may still be preferable to the alternatives, if such alternatives are available at all. This work makes a contribution to the emerging literatures on digital cryptographic tokens and on crowdfunding new ventures.
Keywords: ICOs, blockchain, due diligence, tradability, digital cryptographic tokens, economics of crowdfunding
JEL Classification: D8, G2, O3
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation