Tough Time To Be A Venture Capitalist? How ICOs Are Changing the Entrepreneurial Game

Entrepreneurs, Events, Innovation Posted Dec 4, 2017 by Gabrielle Kondracki

Whether you’ve invested in, read about, or discredited the evolution of Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs), it’s undeniable that the current flux of this new fundraising model is causing a controversial conversation among businesses alike. Last week, the MIT Enterprise Forum (MITEF) of Cambridge teamed with the Government Blockchain Association of Boston to host a diverse panel of ICOs experts to share their insight with an eager and crowded MIT Stata Center audience.

Don’t know much about ICOs? Watch the intro video from the event:

Panelists included, Christian Catalini, MIT Sloan assistant professor and MIT Digital Currencies Research Study principal investigator; David Cotney, Cross River Bank board member and former Massachusetts commissioner of banks; Kavita GuptaConsenSys founding managing partner; Chetan Manikantan, Tengu founder & CEO; and David Vorick, Sia co-founder.  The well informed and curious moderator, Launch Capital Venture Partner Woody Benson asked, “As a VC, will I have a job in the future?” The panelists all agreed–it will be tough. The consensus was the world of ICOs and bitcoin aren’t going away. 

Literally, they won’t go away – which is part of blockchain’s draw. Take Sia, a decentralized cloud storage platform which launched from an ICO. Vorick explained that if his company disappeared tomorrow, his customers would experience no service interruption.

Benson looked to Cotney, the former Massachusetts Commissioner of Banks, for the government perspective on the uproar of unregulated ICOs.  Surprisingly,  he compared banning bitcoin to the debate over banning the internet in the 90s, which seems ridiculous now. Cotney believes the space is still too new – the government needs time to understand the industry before making regulations, while companies need the freedom to iterate uninhibited. Time will tell what influence the government will have over cryptocurrencies in the future.

As question cards flooded the panelists throughout the night, Benson had to pause the event to ask those standing in the back to move forward per request of the Fire Marshall. It’s clear ICOs have sparked an interest with Boston entrepreneurs, and MITEF picked the right topic at the right time for their latest Innovation Series event.

One thing’s for sure, us CHENers certainly wish we were one of those MIT undergraduates who received bitcoin back in 2014 from Catalini’s Digital Research Study. $10 to $10,000? Yeah, that sounds nice right about now.