A fool and his money..
Just when you thought the mania surrounding the so-called Initial Coin Offerings couldn’t get any wilder, boxer Floyd Mayweather has joined the party.
If you’re not familiar, Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) are a new form of fundraising in which companies raise money from the public and offer digital “coins” in return. So far this year, dozens of companies—most of them virtually unknown—have together raised over $1 billion this year alone.
Now, it looks like Mayweather plans to invest in an ICO too. In a post on Instagram, he flashed a suitcase of $100 bills and boasted he will “make a $hit t$n of money … on the Stox.com ICO” — leading a journalist on Twitter to joke that this the top of the ICO mania.
As for Stox.com, I had not heard of the company until Mayweather’s tweet, but sure enough its website has a countdown clock to its ICO scheduled for Aug. 2. The company also promises that “every day [sic] people will be able to predict and trade the outcome of events in almost any imaginable category: Finance, sports, politics and even the weather.”
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Stox also states that it seeks to raise $30 million from the ICO. While that’s a significant number for any brand new company, the figure is modest compared to other recent ICOs from the likes of newcomers like Tezos ($232 million) and Bancor ($153 million).
While the companies are quick to state the “coins” (commonly called tokens) they sell are for buyers to access their software programs, the reality is that many people are buying them to speculate. In most cases, the tokens can be traded at online exchanges for other digital currency like bitcoin or even for cash.
All of this, unsurprisingly, has raised questions about whether ICOs are even legal. This week, the SEC added to those doubts when it ruled that the “coins” sold in one high-profile ICO were actually unlicensed securities—a violation of federal law. The agency’s finding was widely interpreted as a shot against the bow against other companies conducting ICOs.
In the case of Mayweather, it’s unclear if he is actually investing or if this a promotion stunt for Stox—if the latter, he may be hearing from another agency, the FTC, which has been cracking down on undisclosed endorsements.
As for Mayweather, he doesn’t appear too worried about the legal niceties. This is likely because he is expected to earn over $100 million in August for a single fight against mixed martial arts fight Conor McGregor.