March 12, 2018

ICOs: 1st S-1 is Here – Well, Kind of. . .

In a milestone of sorts, the first Form S-1 for a coin offering was filed last week by a company called “The Praetorian Group.” I flipped through it, and it’s . . . interesting.  Here’s a take on the filing from Bloomberg’s Matt Levine:

“The Praetorian Group filed what appears to be the first initial coin offering (ICO) registering tokens with the SEC,” reports Renaissance Capital. Here is the registration statement, and I am sorry to say that it is full of firsts. For instance, this is the first time I have seen this sort of disclaimer in a prospectus for a securities offering:

To the maximum extent permitted by the applicable laws, regulations and rules the Company and/or the Distributor shall not be liable for any indirect, special, incidental, consequential, or other losses of any kind, in tort, contract, tax or otherwise (including but not limited to loss of revenue, income or profits, and loss of use or data), arising out of or in connection with any acceptance of or reliance on this Prospectus or any part thereof by you.

Nope nope nope nope nope nope nope! That is not how a prospectus works! The way a prospectus works is, you write it, and your lawyers read it and make sure it’s right, and then you deliver it to investors so that they can rely on it. That’s the whole point. You don’t just hand the investors some random scribblings and say “here’s some stuff but definitely don’t rely on it.” Come on.

Yeah.  Might draw a comment on that one.  The prospectus goes on to disclaim any “representation, warranty or undertaking in relation to the truth, accuracy, and completeness of any of the information set out in this Prospectus” – which is another thing I’m sure the Staff will be totally cool with.

The registration statement’s also missing a few items – like signatures, exhibits, undertakings (basically all of Part II), for starters. Thanks to Hunton & Williams’ Scott Kimpel for tipping us off to this filing!

ICOs: SEC “Drops a Dime” to Thwart Sketchy Deals

You can’t accuse the SEC of not making use of all available technologies to protect investors – even if some of those technologies originated in the 19th century. Check out the excerpt from this BTC Manager article on how the SEC is using the telephone to put the kibosh on sketchy token offerings before they hit the street:

Well, counter-intuitive as it may seem, the agency is actually showing a preference for the good old telephone over other state-of-the-art technologies to ward off shady ICOs. Before we delve into the details, let’s first take a step back and revisit the fact that the Wall Street’s main regulator has issued multiple warnings time and again urging crypto enthusiasts to steer clear of legally sketchy ICOs no matter how compelling the propositions seem.

Jay Clayton, Chairperson at the SEC, even went as far as saying that crooks were busy harnessing blockchain and the ever-expanding crypto market to pull off serious scams that are as old as the market itself is. That is, to project an asset as the “next best thing” and then selling it once a good amount of “dumb money” pours in.

So how does the SEC use the telephone to deter the bad guys in the fast-growing realm of ICOs?

Apparently, the modus operandi is pretty simple. The folks over at SEC just pick up the telephone and call up the people behind individual ICOs. And believe it or not, the strategy has paid off. According to a key SEC official, over a dozen of cryptocurrency-related companies have abandoned their plans to raise fund from investors after they were contacted by the agency over the telephone.

Score one for us Luddites. I bet they even used a landline.

Transcript: “Auctions – The Art of the Non-Price Bid Sweetener”

We have posted the transcript for the recent webcast: “Auctions – The Art of the Non-Price Bid Sweetener.”

John Jenkins