What types of token sale projects are there?

There are 3 common types of projects we currently see happening in the crypto-world, particularly when it comes to token sales (a.k.a. ICO):

Non-profit Infrastructure Projects

These are projects that create general crypto infrastructure and services. Examples: bancor, aeternety, tezos, taas. They (in theory) help to make crypto currencies as a whole more efficient and more useful. They are well-funded because every potential user is an investor and vice versa. This means that 100% of potential investors have an incentive to invest as all of them are crypto-currency holders and as such have an incentive to use the service or infrastructure at a later point of time. Virtually all of these projects create their own implementation of the blockchain concept as their underlying business logic requires further development and/or extension of the blockchain concept as we currently know it. These projects are by definition non-profit projects and as such there are no legal risks or challenges. Swiss legal entities such as foundations (originally meant for charitable purposes) have quickly become the legal solution of choise for these types of projects. Investors still have a huge incentive to invest as the tokens they receive are likely to increase in value due to the future demand of the underlying business value of the new (and unique) protocol features.

For-profit Blockchain Projects

These are projects that use blockchain technology in the fields of traditional (non-crypto) business. Examples: po.et. These projects take traditional business logic and want to use the benefits of decentralisation that is provided by blockchain technology to get a competitive advantage over current implementations of that business logic. In theory most of them should not implement their own blockchain infrastructure and instead be able to implement their business logic on existing blockchains and services (such as the Ethereum blockchain). For example a market place business logic is 100% implementable on the Ethereum platform. These projects are likely to be less well-funded because their tokens and services are not likely to achieve such a complete crypto-market penetration as this should be the case for crypto-infrastructure projects. In the example of po.et there will be demand for the po.et token for people that need to protect Intellectual Property (IP) only. These people make up for only a tiny share of current crypto-holders. The advantage of these projects is that they have the potential to disrupt huge markets and acquire new users out of these traditional markets on both offer and demand side and onboard them onto the crypto infrastructure. For crypto-holders these projects are still interesting for investment in the long run, however it is less likely that these tokens will increase in value in the short term as demand for these projects will go up as slowly as the transition of the underlying markets from non-crypto to crypto, which it is safe to assume will take decades. These projects are mostly for-profit as its founders in many cases want to run the for-profit business themselves instead of just providing non-profit infrastructure (like a market place), which creates legal risks and hurdles (compliance with regulators and jurisdictions, obtaining permits).

Investment Blockchain Projects

These are projects that let users invest in non-crypto assets. Examples: brickblock.io, vaultoro. These projects are also implementable on existing blockchains such as Ethereum. These are 100% for-profit businesses. As the token they sell is considered to be a security by all of earth’s main jurisdictions they are subject to regulation and banking and finance laws, as well as collective investment laws. This means that these type of crypto projects need to obtain a banking license, conduct KYC and AML procedures on investors, amongst other legal requirements. The legal challenges for asset classes such as commodities (gold, etc.) is much simpler solved than for asset classes that return a dividend. Investors are extremely likely to fund this type of projects because it allows them to diversify their crypto-currency to real-world asset classes and return on investment is much more short-term (and likely to happen at all).