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YC wants to let people invest in its startups through the blockchain (techcrunch.com)
171 points by rmason on Sept 20, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 94 comments

> “Do I think ICOs are silly, bordering on scams? Yes, they are,” he continued. “But, there are a few that are important, and the blockchain is more important than not… ICOs need to be regulated.”

> At the same time, it could mean working, for the first time, with investors who are not “accredited,” meaning high-net-worth investors — an idea that appeals to Altman.

I guess he sees blockchains as a vehicle to getting the regulatory framework he wants for securities, and (I assume) doesn't feel he can get for traditional stock.

> Added Altman of the appeal of ICOs in particular, “People are watching their friends get really rich and it’s making them [frustrated and wanting to get rich, too].”

> “One of the trends that bothers me about Silicon Valley,” he continued, is that “more and more of the wealth creation here is not available to most people, and I think that’s very bad in a society with already so much wealth inequality. If there’s a way that new technology can make it practical and possible to democratize this, I think that’d be great.”

I mean, he just said he recognizes it's a bubble. Doesn't a bubble usually suggest wealth transfer instead of creation? Of course it's frustrating to not get in on that money. It's even more frustrating when you see the situation as ethically gray, and here's Sam signaling that YC should jump on board.

> “One of the trends that bothers me about Silicon Valley,” he continued, is that “more and more of the wealth creation here is not available to most people, and I think that’s very bad in a society with already so much wealth inequality. If there’s a way that new technology can make it practical and possible to democratize this, I think that’d be great.”

Wow. Just wow. Looks like 2017 is the year when VCs publicly started adopting the pump-and-dump positions.

"Remember 1999? Yeah, those companies were 'bad companies'. And the banks that brought them to IPO are 'bad people'. They knowingly peddled their stock to the public market. Grandma lost her 401k because of them.

But you see us? We're 'good people'. Our companies are 'good companies'. We 'generate wealth'.

And an ICO is a great way to facilitate sales of stock a large, global, but ahem 'private' market."

I think the people who laughed at blockchain tech for years now are having a cognitive dissonance moment, when they slowly see this technology seeping into traditional spaces. "It must be a bubble! It's a tulip scheme!" they proclaim, clinging to their last shred of dignity, as they fail to predict the inevitable future one more time.

I think you have a fundamental misunderstanding of a difference between " a blockchain " (the technology) and "Let people who see others making money hands over fist on a blockchain participate. I have this thing" (the fraud).

Blockchain the currency and blockchain the equity/bond/token were inevitable. The crypto world isn't concerned with traditional finance and their legacy rules. The future is decentralized companies financed with decentralized currency. It seems the people most offended by this realization are those with authoritarian complexes with a desire to control the voluntary spending habits of their peers. Which is exactly why there's demand for this new freedom money. Stop telling me how to spend and how to invest. I'm not your child and this isn't your money.

Even Bitcon has become surprisingly centralized due to ASIC miners. The simple truth is coins are 100% zero sum, so without utility they are limited to pyramid schemes.

So, yes in theory you could make a useful currency. But, nobody seems to be focused on low cost, ultra high transaction rates, anonymous transactions, etc. It's all pump and dump.

Silicon Valley created lots of "valuation" in the last few years. This made lots of people rich on "paper". Now if we can only get other people jealous of them, and sell them these on paper gains for real money. Transfer it through the blockchain just to be safe.

Keeping it 100%.

I guess I'd ask this question:

Is it ethical to want to bring in unaccredited investors to a market that's known for being scammy and overhyped?

It doesn't bother the government when the middle class spend its hard earned money in gambling, sport events or entertainment. Somehow, there's suddenly a moral imperative to protect those poor sheep from doing as they please with their property. But, wait, only if their capital inflow will dilute the returns of established investors.

It's to protect the middle class of course, though one can only wonder why the blatant double standard. I have no idea!

The "accredited investor" regulations are a sham, an unfair and artificial barrier to entry that ought to be removed. Yes, some people will get abused. This might even create local instability. But, that is clearly the long-term optima. Those who lose money to scams can leave it to law enforcement to do their job. Others who invest more they can afford to lose into bad apples will learn that you should always hedge risk. As a whole, society gets smarter when it is allowed to make mistakes, even costly ones. Smarter and less fragile.

> It doesn't bother the government when the middle class spend its hard earned money in gambling

Isn't gambling heavily regulated in the US to the point of being barely legal in many states? Isn't that basically how many Indian tribes make money - by being outside this regulation?

Running a casino is heavily regulated. Gambling at a casino is open to anyone over 21 where its legal. That was the OP's point.

Yes, and everyone entering casino is aware that it is gambling.

ICOs, on the other hand, is like entering a street shell game. Something non-regulated, where you are sure to get skinned.

I'm by no means an expert on the matter, but I believe you're thinking of running Casinos specifically. For example, scratching games or lotteries are legal in almost every state in the US. And for those states where casinos are allowed, no one will ask you questions as long as you are +21.

There is a significant difference.

Gambling is up front about the odds and the fact that they are stacked against you.

ICOs and scam investments are not.

The issue is not about allowing people to lose their money.

The issue is about Fraud, and people lying about what they are selling, as well as promising false returns.

Casinos don't promise you anything false, and transparently offer you provable odds.

Would casinos be that honest if they didn't fear being prosecuted? Why can't ICOs be similarly managed?

After all, if someone is willing to violate the law, chances are they won't respect limitations regarding the eligibility of investors - which is, in fact, what we're seeing with ICOs.

Seems like just another example of the known results of Prohibition - prevent legal markets and you'll just have dark markets in which people get poisoned.

Regulating a casino is relatively straightforward. You demand their games actually pay out on the odds they're required to publish and periodically check they actually do so, and prohibit them from claiming that they are an investment at all.

Regulating a company that may or may not believe their pitch about making their investors rich and whose probable failure may or may not be the result of them failing to even attempt to execute on it and/or their pitch deck being a pack of lies is incredibly complicated.

So it's left to investors that have the resources to do what would otherwise be the extremely laborious regulator's job of doing due diligence, sitting on boards to see what's going on and litigating malfeasance. Who also happen to have sufficient funds not to suffer if they don't.

Prohibition isn't really an appropriate comparison since there's an abundance of alternative places for the general public to speculate, and no reason to assume that the investment opportunities investment professionals won't touch would start offering consumers better returns than a casino if everyone could advertise an SEC stamp on their ICO after filling in a few forms.

> Those who lose money to scams can leave it to law enforcement to do their job

Law enforcement rarely resolves securities disputes. It requires lawyers teeing up the evidence for courts and regulators.

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. Don’t do mean things with securities.

I guess it would depend how sophisticated the scam is. When I wrote that, I had outright thievery in mind.

Any *coin fiasco would take the government years to figure out. Nobody is even sure if the laws on the books would cover some of the scenarios that are popping up. A lot of it would be solved if people really understood what they're buying with these ICOs, but many just see it as "magical Internet money that's making cash obsolete".

Fundamentally, I see it as democratizing investment and removing arbitrary hurdles for those without millions in the bank to seek higher risk/reward investments.

In practice, I'm seeing teams doing ICOs do shady things like change the terms halfway through raising capital, leaving early contributors with a diluted stake or teams that straight up don't deliver with no way for share(token?)holders to hold the team accountable - basically this kind of behavior seems a whole lot easier when you took small sums from thousands of nobodies instead of millions from a handful of deep-pocketed somebodies.

> for those without millions in the bank to seek higher risk/reward investments

I question whether those risk-reward blends are appropriate for those without substantial excess capital. The current limits are somewhat arbitrarily placed, I agree, but someone with $50,000 in savings probably shouldn't be investing in start-ups.

Isn't that up to them?

The worried part of me thinks this is the build up for just another example of "In which cryptocurrencies discover that banking and securities regulations were created for a reason".

I understand the reasoning behind such regulation. On the other hand, for example doing a startup is also highly risky. Should it therefore also be regulated, only people with enough savings (and perhaps education) should be allowed to do startups?

I don't think it is easy to answer, clearly not allowing people to take risks is also taking away there freedom and chances for making a better living. Not allowing people to take risks (and consequently, start businesses) ultimately leads towards a communist worlds were people can only pick from a selection of government ordained jobs.

I'm divided over the whole ICO thing. On one hand, I don't think that Bitcoin, et al are ever going to replace fiat currency. But shares of stock are a perfect analog to what he's trying to do; and I think the SEC will see right through it.

On the other hand, blockchain tech is very useful for distributed asset tracking; specifically corporate bonds and equity. It makes an incredible amount of sense for things like stock certificates and even shareholder voting. Having a tokenized, open ledger that is able to be analyzed by anyone is nothing but good for shareholders. I think that as long as shareholders are aware that they are buying equity in a company, cryptocurrency should be a viable way to do so.

What I do not think, however, is that these corporate cryptocurrencies should be exempt from all existing laws governing equity finance. It should be 1 share = 1 coin and leave it at that. The market can determine the value of the shares, and the company can create new ones whenever it wants (since it would control the "mining" pool).

The jobs act allows smaller fundraisers from non-accredited investors.. but it’s not very popular. Why?

Every headline from Techcrunch disrupt that I have seen has been directly contradicted in some way in the video. For example, Vitalik Buterin spends about 10% of his talk explaining why not everything will be or should be decentralized. The title of his video? "Decentralize Everything with Vitalik Buterin"

This is called clickbait and is why Techcrunch is a trash website.

I understand the aversion to clickbait, but using clickbait doesn't make writers trash. Some of my favorite creators use the most shameless over the top clickbait you can imagine.

That is what smart people do - they do things that work.

Why on earth would you decrease your success by 20-30%(I'm guessing) by using less appealing headlines?

Clickbait doesn't devalue the articles. It only presents problems for websites like HN, but here it is already moderated.

> Why on earth would you decrease your success by 20-30%(I'm guessing) by using less appealing headlines?

Because you respect yourself and your audience enough to be honest, even when dishonesty could attract more eyeballs to advertisements?

In my opinion, honesty and artistic integrity comes down to article/video delivering the promised value/entertainment.

The purpose of a headline is to get more people to click so that they receive the value you've created. If your headline is a little less compelling - fewer people will receive the value, the world will be a little worse off. So if you believe in your ideas, and care about expressing them - you do whatever it takes to convey them successfully. Utilitarian ethics.

You know you are competing with a huge amount of clickbaity entertainment, so if the things you create are high quality, it makes sense to do things that won't predictably cause you to lose.

I understand your point of view and why you'd find this distasteful, and, personally, I don't use as much clickbait as I probably should. But my opinion on this stuff has shifted over time, so I just want to express it.

Techcrunch is not a trash website. They are just keeping few trash editors in front of iMacs.

I'd actually say the opposite. They are a trash website but they do have a few good editors.

Link to the actual video of Sam Altman at Disrupt SF 2017 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UqszUNk_vQU

It feels like there are two different moving parts here. First, should YC open up to a new class of investors? That's just a business decision for YC: either it suits their plans or it doesn't.

The second question is how they open up their business to new investors. It's a little tricky to raise money from retail investors, so I wonder whether this talk of an ICO is designed to skirt regulation. I know I sound very un-hip when I say this, but that regulation is there for a reason. The vast majority of investors don't have the background or knowledge to assess the risk of alternative investments.

It's not impossible for YC to market to retail investors, just more difficult. They should either raise money in the conventional way or not at all.

I can see why startups raising money benefit from an increase in the numberof potential investors and capital. But apart from this, is there a good reason to want to "democratize access to investing,” and open the field to non-accredited investors?

I share the instinctive response to a rule where "only rich people can X" but (1) Are startups such a great investment that unaccredited shlubs are substantially disadvantaged by excluion? (2) Do they have enough (risk tolerant) money to make a difference? (3) Will companies financed these ways be better in some way.

If we assume the bigger fraud-ish problems get solved, what is the big upside?

I can vaguely see an argument for something between kickstarter/patreon & NASDAQ enabling new kinds of things, but is there really something here. To put it more generally, why should people other than Sam Altman agree with him?

I'd say the biggest problem is "fraud". Once you make it accessible for the average person to invest and the sophisticated fraudster to advertise and raise money, what you get is ... ICOs.

IPOs do have fraud but at least it is controlled a lot. To raise capital you need to be a specific person/company and you have a set of responsibility toward your investors.

For ICOs? Not really.

A few reasons I can think of:

Financially, having the option to do X has a certain value, even if on average X isn't valuable. (If X has volatility)

Startups has a certain risk characteristic that is different that what you can find on the public equity market. Theoretically, an efficient market should dish out higher reward to compensate for higher risk and poor liquidity of investing in startups. It may be beneficial to individuals to use startups to diversify their overall portfolio.

Startups in general might not be a great investment. The subset of all YC startups might be.

Researching and investing in startups is fun and educational.

"non-accredited investors". Compared to some so-called professional investors, they only lack "credits" if that word is taken to refer to currency.

crowdfunding investors are a lot less likely to push out a founder or force a sale than an experienced VC

I bought some Bitcoin for a family member as a gag gift recently thinking we could have some fun paying each other with Bitcoin for little things like household chores and whatnot. This was my first time using Bitcoin, and I was shocked to learn that it costs roughly $5 worth of Bitcoin to make a single transaction using Bitcoin! The fee is known as a "Bitcoin mining fee." I'm an open minded person and honestly believe d that Bitcoin might work prior to actually using it. However, after discovering the actual cost of using Bitcoin, it is clearly inferior to US Dollars in every way. Bitcoin is a scam, block chain is all hype, and everyone involved with Cryptomania is going to look silly when the music stops and someone has to eat the soggy biscuit.

I feel it's necessary to point out some problems with your argument here. "I'm an open minded person and honestly believe d that Bitcoin might work prior to actually using it." First of all, it seems kinda strange to me that you say you believed Bitcoin would work, without even using it. So you made an approximation of the technologies value before using it. Then, after using it once, you then totally changed positions. This hardly seems like a decent analysis of the situation, and I think you should probably do some more reading and learning.

Number 2, writing off an asset, and furthermore, an entire asset class based on one instance of a transaction fee (a problem that is being actively worked on, might I add) is lazy and dangerous, to conflate this to "it is clearly inferior to US Dollars in every way. Bitcoin is a scam, block chain is all hype, and everyone involved with Cryptomania is going to look silly when the music stops and someone has to eat the soggy biscuit" is ridiculous and you haven't made any decent points. Your entire argument is based on conjecture and no technical information.

Do yourself a favour next time you decide to shoot Bitcoin and Crytpocurrency down, ask yourself if you've actually done due diligence on your opinion, or if you've settled for the lazy option.

PS: If you are that disgruntled, you're welcome to submit PRs.

I'm not sure your comment comes off in the way you think it does. While the parent didn't do much research you have to understand that if bitcoin is going to become bigger you're going to get an overwhelming amount of people using it without understanding it at all (in fact it's probably at about that level now; anecdotally I don't know a single person who both owns bitcoin and understands why / how it works and what's up with the transaction fee).

Instead of coming off as condescending with a simple beratement of their first impression of using a cryptocurrency, why not try to use this as a teaching moment and say "hey, that sucks and I know it's confusing. The mining fee is actually because of X but we're working to make that not necessary / lower through Y".

If those of us in the tech industry want bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to grow and prosper we can't just tell people they're dumb and to submit PRs if they don't like anything. This only reinforces their poor first impression and lacks empathy.

Cheers for the comment. And I appreciate the points you made, in all fairness I did mean to reply back and try and actually provide some level of explanation.

And you know man, I do understand that first problem, I actually went around my local city talking to business owners about their lack of understanding/knowledge of Bitcoin a while ago and tbh it struck me entirely as a communication/uptake problem. You are right though, I did come off obnoxious and you're also right in saying that it's not the right way to go about it.

Cheers for the reality check.

Sounds good, mate :)

Maybe if the community can fix the Bitcoin mining fee problem it will work. But if they can't get the mining fee down to like 30 cents per transaction like with square or stripe, the overwhelming majority of people aren't going to want to use it.

And to be specific, I used Coinbase to purchase my Bitcoin and then transferred it to an Electrum wallet and then to another wallet.

People have told me that you don't have to pay the $5 mining fee, but I did not see an option anywhere with those two wallets to avoid or substantially reduce the mining fee.

Eyo, sorry for the delay on this reply. I agree wholeheartedly with everything you said, and didn't mean to come off too aggressive with my first comment, even though I probably did. There is a lot of bullshit going around these days around Bitcoin and Crypto, and sometimes it can be pretty grinding to see "big media" out-and-out gunning it down without exposing their true intentions and who it is that they're backing with their comments. Either way, this isn't your fault. So I apologise for coming off aggro.

The transaction fee thing is a problem many people, in particular new users notice, and it's on the forefront of issues being solved by the community right now. In regards to your comments on 30 cent transaction costs, from what I understand, they are indeed on the path to this. If you are interested in seeing what this will look/feel like, buy a small amount of LTC, and send it to another wallet. I had many of the same issues you had with Bitcoin a few months ago, but as soon as I gave LTC a go I was blown away. This, for all intents and purposes, is what the BTC Core team intends to bring to Bitcoin. To give you an idea, transactions cost 2c on the LTC network, with a max time to completion of 2.5 minutes. When you first experience this, it's a great feeling.

Coinbase is always gonna be tricky, their transaction costs for buying BTC are, to put it bluntly, fucking horrendous.

In regards to your comments on not having to pay the fee, there are some wallets that allow you to pick the priority of your transaction, one that springs to mind is IndieSquare Wallet. Bear in mind this will affect the way your transaction goes through, speed wise.

Hope I actually answered your questions on this, sorry for my intial comment. If you have any more q's, just holla. I can either answer them, or get someone with more knowledge than I to answer them.

However, in the interest of getting you to fall in love with Crypto, please, buy a small amount of LTC, transfer it, pay the fractional charges and be blown away. If you aren't impressed by it, I will be surprised.

The community is working hard to fix these problems. You should realize however that alternative currencies charge far less, and a large reason for Bitcoins relative adoption is first movers advantage. With, say, Ethereum you'd be paying far less tx fees.

Also, how long would it take you to send money between the EU and USA? With Bitcoin it's pretty much instantly with only a flat $5-ish fee. Centralized options such as Paypal or Western Union are far inferior in this use case.

It's sad you're being downvoted. You're totally right. The issue is that the main Bitcoin community is insisting on keeping the blocks to 1MB every 10 minutes. They are doing this with the promise that one day, they'll have whizbang technology to do a million transactions a second for cheap. They're even calling Bitcoin a "settlement layer" or "layer 1" or just "store of value". Instead of a peer to peer cash system. Some such supporters have expressed interest in seeing the fees hit $100 or $1000, saying such fees would "indicate success".

I didn't particularly care before, but the more and more I've read, the less sense it makes. At this point, almost all miners (people running the equipment that keeps the network safe and operational) have decided to switch to larger blocks, "hard forking". This will be fun to watch. The "core" people are insisting the miners rebrand and break backwards compatibility so it doesn't hurt their main, small block chain.

That's not to say these other solutions are terrible, when they end up existing. But artificially restricting Bitcoin and driving up fees while slowing transactions down seems basically petty at this point.

That's not true, it doesn't cost $5 to make a single transaction (unless your chores are really, really expensive). Mining fees are optional, although if you don't pay it, miners don't need to accept your transaction. Basically, you're paying for miners to do the work necessary as an incentive (much like you'd pay Visa or Mastercard).

It is essentially true though because your transaction almost definitely won't make it into the next block unless you offer around $5 worth of Bitcoin... This means you may have to wait a very long time for the transaction to go through.

Bitcoin transfers are slow and expensive so it only makes sense for large transactions. For small transfers you should use a different altcoins.

You can make Ethereum transactions for a few cents that take only about a minute or less to complete. There's also a lot more you can do with them than just transfer them around.

    $5 worth of Bitcoin to make a single transaction using Bitcoin!
Fees will come down with Bitcoin based LN or another network like Ethereum. Give it time this is still early days.

    it is clearly inferior to US Dollars in every way.
This is categorically false. For some tasks US dollars are great but a lot of people are into BTC for the whole decentralized store of value thing. And honestly it does "decentralized trust" pretty well.

    Bitcoin is a scam, block chain is all hype, and everyone involved
    with Cryptomania is going to look silly when the music stops and
    someone has to eat the soggy biscuit.
This is a bit of a leap isn't it?

Here is an idea for your chores, make your own family coin on Ethereum, make an exchange rate that the family pays to the kids, etc.. (1 family coin for $1) then you now have a decentralized home currency that will cost a few cents to move.

Or if you're not interested in a funky project like that, just use Ethereum for now instead of BTC for micro transactions. I regularly pay 5 cents to move money around in Ethereum.

I do believe both BTC and ETH have bright futures.

Bitcoin has been around for years. When does LN launch? The block size has been kept small for years past reasonability. Now we have segwit, so where's LN?

The Macbook costs $2500. Oh, it is a Scam.

Just because something is expensive, doesn't make it a scam. It is also important to note that Bitcoin is a free market. Unlike Apple which sets the prices of a Macbook, demand set the price for the bitcoin blockchain space.

Why did you assume that bitcoin transactions are free? or should be free?

Don't blame him for Bitcoins ridiculous fees. Hard to pitch a peer to peer electronic cash system that costs $5. And don't blame him for buying into the online hype. Reading around, if you're not careful, one might even think LN is usable.

> Hard to pitch a peer to peer electronic cash system that costs $5.

Eh, maybe it means the p2p electronic cash doesn't need pitching. It is already there and successful.

People talk about bitcoin like it needs to be cheap, solve a problem, be non-volatile. The truth is, the crypto market is $100bn+ big and doesn't seem to care much.

YC isn’t even reaching most accredited investors and it wants to go to unaccredited? Sounds like they want liquidity.

I'm not sure I understand, could you elaborate?

If YC can create a vehicle like this it will give the employees sitting on relatively small amounts of common shares someone to sell to without an IPO. I don’t know what their deal might be, but I imagine the partners all have the equivalent of carry and the run of the mill employees do not.

Surprised CoinList isn't mentioned here, as they did a successful ICO for FileCoin and serve as a platform for pretty much this exact use-case.

That was accredited investor only.

Personally I think just enabling trading would not be a good idea. That said, I also want to do something similar to this. Securities laws in the 1st world are hopelessly out of date.

So I've looked in other jurisdictions but I've had huge problems finding the right country to do it in.

The last time I tried I got scammed by a Corporate Service Provider in the Isle of Mann that went out of business about a month after I sent them $$.

If anyone is looking for a co-founder in this space, and is interested in having a chat, email is in my profile.

There are currently other possible ways to access and invest in the private markets. For example, EquityZen is a platform that lets people to invest in private pre-IPO companies.

EquityZen: https://equityzen.com/?utm_source=https%3A%2F%2Fnews.ycombin...

It would be nice to remove some of the complexities, friction and cost of holding and trading shares in companies beyond the vehicles that exist today, and I think we can get that via blockchain.

It would need to be regulated though - to reduce scams, and also because regulators wouldn't allow tokens that are securities (shares in a company) unless it's regulated. That part, to me, feels like it will take a long time - would require changing legislation.

OK, so you buy a YC token. What do you have? A share of YC's equity pool? What makes YC pay you if they have a big win?

what makes them pay investors today if they win big?

The government, mostly. I guess the investors would sue and a judge would order them to pay or go to jail.

Your implied point is true though. I'd trust YCombinator to pay out their tokens as long as they don't go bankrupt.

Don't most ICOs explicitly state that the token does entitle the holder to...anything? With a stock or bond, there are legal structures that underlay the promised mechanism by which an investor might get a return on investment.

While it's all nice and fuzzy now, it seems to me that the recipients of the ICOs funds can do as they please with the money.

They are structured this way as an attempt to avoid the securities regulations.

It's an interesting solution to the problem. Securities regulations are setup so that investors have a chance at a return. They are intended to prevent the situation where companies raise funds, and don't return value to the investor.

So the sponsor of the ICO just says, no worries, we're not even promising an effort at returning value to investors!

It's unclear how this is going to play out from a regulatory point of view. It is clear, however, that the chance of these companies generating real value and returning it to the token holders is close to zero.

My guess is that most people putting their money down recognize, at least on some level, that they are joining a ponzi scheme. People love to gamble.

I think the biggest hurdle regulators will have to overcome if they want anything other than a blanket ban on ICOs will be verifying "good faith" execution of their business plans.

If you create a cryptotoken that has a real business purpose and sell it with the expectation that it will be redeemable for that purpose (basically selling gift cards for a service that doesn't exist yet), and a secondary market forms that appears to believe that the tokens are stock and trades them accordingly, are you guilty of securities fraud? What if you never actually develop that service, would that impact your case? If so, how do you distinguish between something that was a ponzi from the start and a mismanaged project that failed to deliver?

The innovation of blockchain, as applied to investments, is that your share can be immediately and easily traded.

The investment could still have the same terms and conditions as a regular security, though. There was a big one recently that even required you to be an accredited investor to buy on the blockchain.

Electronic trading of securities has been around for a while now. But it's only immediate and easy if someone wants to buy it at a value you're willing to sell for, and that's going to depend heavily on whether it does have terms and conditions attached which make holding it favourable.

This might be a dumb question but can you currently invest in yc itself or just its individual startups, à la carte?

You can invest after YC has invested at a substantially higher rate. The YC investment has the effect of a stamp of approval by the picker of winners and as a result the value of the stock of the companies they invest in jumps up immediately.

Right but this is still referring to the individual companies, no? My question is what does a yc 'token' get you? Does yc turn around and give you X amount of equity of each company in the current class, do you get to hand pick, or something else?

Please, let's not attempt to legitimize ICOs.

Why not? They can be used legitimately, even if the majority of the use cases at the moment are cash grabs.

Why do they need to be on a blockchain?

Where else?

A database? Do you understand what blockchains are for? Why does regulated securities trading need to be censorship resistant rather than just secure?

Those two properties seem to go hand in hand.

How do you imagine an ICO taking place without a blockchain? It seems like a contradiction in terms: the "C" means a blockchain token.

Yes, I would invest.


im good, already invested in one company that a YC company from this summer's batch ripped off... including copy and vendors

If we could stop hindering real progress with all this blockchain bullshit, that would be great...

What progress are blockchains hindering?

All those investors could actually invest in something with a future.

This is clearly a good idea. The whole broker/exchange/regulator triumvirate is a massive overhead for everyone.

Uptime: Trading hours are a 19th century anachronism. Distributed infrastructure is more reliable.

Management incentive: By removing annual and quarterly investor relations milestones businesses are incentivized to move more quickly by creating a more fluid and transparent management and investor relations style.

National access: Being 'listed' on a 'market' is a huge hassle and comes with fiscal protection mechanisms such as requisite auditing which essentially (not completely) amounts to a mafia-esque pay to play fee. Why not just go international and skip the hassle?

Regulation: Of course, the financial services establishment will cry "Regulators! Consumers need protection! Only we, the few, the humble, the experienced, can save their financial souls!" but alas their track record is pretty shocking and regulators with any guts should encourage innovation with some oversight and involvement. The thing is, since blockchains are international regulators are nominally sidelined in a default approach. There should be a middle ground where they can perform basic services such as corporate registration, legal good standing, fair taxation and IP asset attestation, for example, without becoming intimately involved in day to day business.

Transparency: Instead of occasional, high level audits, if transparency is required why not require that in order to be blockchain listed, companies must either use a public blockchain or otherwise effectively real time (eg. daily batched reporting) to transparently manage their financial assets? This would provide superior transparency than the establishment, potentially with crypto levels of trust (thus auditors cannot be bought/make mistakes).

Fiscal restructuring: Being able to do stock splits and so forth could work very well on chains.

Conventional asset financial connectivity: Sooner or later you have to interact with the off-blockchain world. Gatekeeper financial institutions need to validate inbound capital by showing things like source of funds. This is nontrivial with anonymous blockchain inflows, and requires setting up a significant KYC process as per larger crypto exchanges.

Of course there are issues. If there is a gatekeeper to enforce due diligence then is it truly blockchain anymore or are you just doing rebranded ICO 2.0 and issuing your own tokens? I fear the latter. We must find a middle ground. The devil is in the details.

Trading hours aren't an anachronism. As someone who trades cryptocurrencies, I frequently need to stay up well into the next morning if markets are moving. It never stops, sleeping is never completely safe. Trading hours make it human

Efficiency is profit and is rewarded by the market. Therefore, humanistic single timezone centric trading hours are disincentivized, and because they are not required, they will eventually disappear. Therefore, I view them as an anachronism.

Just buy and hold/hodl.

SEC regulations are failing the average american in a big way. When it is impossible to own stock in basically any of the high growth tech companies, every person with retirement funds/401k in index funds or markets is missing out, and all the gains are going to a handful of investment banks. I'm not sure whether this represents an intentional move by banking lobbyists, but following the money I'm sure it is.

The ICO market may be bubbly and ridiculous, but at least it will make founders consider an alternative to traditional VC which may give more money for less equity.

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