ICO Investors are about to experience something that’s almost never happened in the brief history of the $3 billion market: An offering by a company with an actual product.
Bloomberg Businessweek has managed to find the one ICO being launched to solve the rare problem that could actually benefit from decentralized, monetized tokens. The company is called OPSkins, and it’s the largest skins site in the $50 billion market. The company has raised $41 million in an ICO it launched last month, and hopes to raise another $7 million before the sale ends on Nov. 28. For those readers who aren’t avid gamers, Bloomberg explains that a “skin” is a decoration for the virtual guns and knives found in video games like CounterStrike: Global Offensive. While the concept of building a company around these products might seem silly, some buyers will pay thousands of dollars for the rarest skins.
The two-year-old company has raised about $41 million by selling what it calls WAX tokens, a virtual currency that will become the default way to buy and sell skins on its intercompany skins exchange, the Worldwide Asset eXchange, which will allow buyers to connect to dozens of disparate marketplaces. The idea is to simplify purchases for gamers from different countries and give everyone a clearer sense of what a particular item is worth, using the same kind of digital-ledger system as the cryptocurrency bitcoin.
Previously, the market for these virtual items was highly fragmented, and wealthy buyers would often play intermediaries a premium to root out the best deals on their behalf.
The company bets that making its exchange accessible to rivals, who can then make a broader catalog available to customers, will expand its audience beyond the limitations of an individual website, says Chief Information Officer Malcolm CasSelle, who’s helping lead the WAX effort. In theory, there’s lots of room for new skins buyers, says Chris Grove, managing director at researcher Eilers & Krejcik Gaming LLC. About 200,000 new people buy virtual items through OPSkins each month, but the site sells gear for online games with more than 125 million regular players.
“This could be the perfect on-ramp,” says investor Scott Walker, who helped fund the “initial coin offering,” or ICO. Early investors are getting more WAX tokens for their money, but their value will become another variable once the exchange goes live in December.
OPSkins doesn’t disclose its financials, but …read more