Tim Draper, a high-profile investor and an early bitcoin supporter, will take part in the initial coin offering (ICO) of the blockchain startup Tezos. As Reuters reported, he will become the first prominent investor to participate in this new form of startup fundraising. The launch of the ICO is planned for May 22, 2017.
Tim Draper is a third-generation venture capitalist, whose earlier investments include Skype, Baidu, Hotmail, and Tesla Motors.
Tezos was created as an alternative to Ethereum by a husband and wife team, Arthur Breitman and Kathleen Breitman, who have an extensive Wall Street and hedge fund backgrounds. Arthur Breitman had worked at the high frequency trading desk at Goldman Sachs and served as an options market maker at Stanley, while Kathleen Breitman worked as a management associate at the world’s largest hedge fund called Bridgewater Associates.
The move is an indication of approval for this new type of financing. ICOs are used by blockchain startups to raise funds through the sale of cryptotokens, which similar to shares of a company sold to investors in IPOs. Besides, participants in ICOs get a right to vote on decisions taken by the startup in the future.
Still, some investors express concern about lack of regulatory control for ICOs.
Traditional venture capital firms are bound by agreements with investors who prohibit allocating funds toward such high-risk types of assets as virtual currencies. However, Draper said that the contract terms with his investors allow putting money into almost any vehicle.
“The best thing I can do is lead by example,” Draper said in an interview to Reuters. “Over time, I actually feel that some of these tokens are going to improve the world, and I want to make sure those tokens get promoted as well. I think Tezos is one of those tokens.”
“I think most investor contracts did not anticipate something like an ICO,” he said. “But we did anticipate that certain things are going to happen and finance is going to be transformed.”
The billionaire also noted that his company has specifically devoted funds for non-traditional investments.
Tezos is similar to other blockchain systems, but it allows for decentralized and automated upgrades. The platform uses a different approach by creating governance rules for stakeholders to approve of protocol upgrades that are then automatically deployed on the network. While most software systems provide for automated upgrades, updates of blockchain platforms are generally centralized.
A few days ago, the Russia-based blockchain startup, BitCAD, launched an ICO crowdsale that will last until the beginning of June. BitCAD is a unique blockchain-based system with an encrypted smart-platform and a fully decentralized trade engine.
In March, the Qtum Foundation completed one of the most successful crowdsale campaigns, raising $10 million in the first 90 minutes. In the first five days, the startup received more than $15 million.
Draper is also going to invest in Dynamic Ledger Solutions Inc., the creator of Tezos, but did not provide any details.