Top 5 Biggest ICOs (by Return on Investment)

Bitcoin investment

Initial coin offerings are on fire. By issuing their own digital tokens to investors who want to back their idea, product, or service, blockchain projects have raised more than $5 billion USD.

Many of these new digital tokens then start to increase in value when they trade on digital currency exchanges. While not all ICO tokens have performed well, there have been five digital currencies that were launched through initial coin offerings that have managed to become tremendous outperformers in the digital currency space. According to ICOStats, these five are:

  1. NXT
  2. IOTA
  3. Ethereum
  4. NEO (formerly AntShares)
  5. Stratis

ROI

In this guide, you will learn more about these five ICO tokens. Examining their performance may help you decide whether or not investment in ICOs is a good strategy for you. (Do not forget to bookmark our list of Upcoming ICOs and Completed ICOs.)

NXT (1,477,000 Percent ROI)

The NXT project is one of the longest standing blockchain projects in the market today. NXT was launched in November 2013 by an anonymous developer called BCNext, at a time when the blockchain space was still at a very early stage and was largely unknown to the general public.

The NXT project held an initial coin offering on the BitcoinTalk Forum in September 2013, where it managed to raise around $16,800 worth of bitcoin to develop its new open source blockchain platform that utilizes the proof-of-stake consensus mechanism for its native digital currency – also called NXT.

NXT was built as a blockchain platform for applications and financial services. It has its own asset exchange, a messaging system, and a marketplace and enables anyone such as small businesses, corporations, and banks to develop their own blockchain applications.

At the time of writing, the value of NXT stood at $0.249 per coin. During the initial coin offering back in September 2013, one NXT coin was sold for $0.0000168. That means NXT has generated a return on investment for its early investors of over 1,477,000 percent, making it the most profitable ICO coin of all time at today’s market prices.

Why This Worked

NXT was one of the first blockchain-as-a-service platforms, has managed to build a strong community of dedicated developers, and has withstood the test of time as it is still one of the most active blockchain projects today. In light of the growing interest for blockchain applications, NXT is well-positioned to deliver, which is reflected in the price of its digital currency.

Lessons Learned

  • Successful early-stage blockchain projects have high returns potential.
  • Blockchain-as-a-Service platforms have the potential to become major players in global blockchain adoption. Hence, its tokens have high returns potential.
  • A dedicated developer community is always a good sign for potentially high returns.

IOTA (332,500 Percent ROI)

The IOTA project is developing a transactional IoT settlement layer by combining elements of blockchain technology with the Internet of Things.

The IOTA token is the only major digital currency that does not use a full blockchain to conduct transactions. Instead, IOTA uses what is called a Tangle, which solves the scalability and transaction fee issues faced by digital currencies such as bitcoin by requiring the person who sends funds to conduct a verification at the same time he or she sends the funds. This fully decentralizes the entire ledger used to record IOTA transactions and creates a zero-fee transaction system, as no fees need to be paid to the participants in the network to verify transactions.

IOTA held its initial coin offering in November and December 2015 and managed to raise over $400,000. During the crowdsale, IOTA tokens were sold for less than $0.001 and all one billion IOTA tokens were sold during the ICO.

The IOTA (MIOTA) token started trading publicly on exchanges over one a half years later on June 13, 2017, at a price of $0.63. At the time of writing this article, the value of one IOTA token stood at $1.43, which marks an over 330,000 percent return on investment since the initial coin offering in 2015.

Why This Worked

IOTA is developing its own cryptography and is taking cryptocurrencies to the next level by allowing zero-free digital currency transactions without the need for an actual blockchain. This alleviates many of the scaling issues that blockchain-based digital currencies face and thereby allows the use of its digital currency on a much larger scale. Hence, it could be used for IoT networks, which is the project’s aim.

Lessons Learned

  • Truly innovative new projects have the highest returns potential.
  • Providing an important service to a new growing market (such as financial transactions for IoT networks) can generate high returns.

Ethereum (152,500 Percent ROI)

Ethereum is a public, open-source distributed ledger platform that allows for the creation of smart contracts and decentralized applications (DApps). The project was launched in 2013 by Vitalik Buterin and has since grown into one of the largest blockchain projects in the market.

Ethereum’s smart contracts platform has gathered a lot of attention from a wide range of industries because it could potentially be used to digitize and streamline inefficient business processes in the future. This is why Ethereum’s digital currency ether has witnessed such a tremendous increase in value since its launch.

The Ethereum project had its initial coin offering in the summer of 2014, where it sold 11.9 million ether tokens to raise $16 million. Ether’s issue price at the time of the crowdsale amounted to $0.311.

Ethereum’s token ether carries the ticker ETH and has become the second largest digital currency in terms of market capitalization. Ether’s all-time high price was $519.85, which it reached on November 29, 2017. At the time of writing this article, ether was trading at $472.50, which marks an over 152,000 percent increase in value since its ICO.

Why This Worked

Ethereum was built to allow for the development of decentralized applications and smart contracts, which both have the potential to become revolutionary technologies in the future of both the private and public sector. Due to the Ethereum network ’s high potential for mass adoption, its digital currency has gained much value since its launch.

Lessons Learned

  • Truly innovative new projects have the highest returns potential.
  • A dedicated developer community is always a good sign for potentially high returns.

NEO (formerly AntShares) (114,000 Percent ROI)

NEO, which has recently rebranded from AntShares, is a Chinese blockchain startup that is developing a blockchain for digital asset ownership. NEO’s aim is to create a blockchain that represents legal proof-of-ownership that is accepted by the broader society. The project has managed to gather a lot of attention from the bitcoin community for combining smart contracts and digital assets to create a “smart assets platform”.

NEO held its first ICO in October 2015, where it sold 17.5 million tokens and managed to raise around $550,000 at a time where ICOs were quite a new phenomenon in the digital assets market. The NEO token, which carries the ticker NEO, launched at $0.032 in late 2015 when it was still trading under the ticker ANS.

A year later, in September 2016, NEO held a second crowdsale to further finance the development of its platform. During its second coin offering, NEO sold 22.5 million tokens and managed to raise $4.5 million.

At the time of writing this article, the NEO token was trading at $36.20. This marks an impressive 114,000 percent rally since its first crowdsale in 2015. NEO’s all-time high was $48.01 on August 14, 2017.

Why This Worked

NEO is China’s first public blockchain projects. It has thus managed to gain a lot of attention from investors since China is a market with huge potential for blockchain applications but, at the same time, is a market difficult to enter for foreign businesses. NEO is, therefore, being perceived as a promising blockchain project that can capitalize on its local first-mover advantage. This is priced into its token.

Lessons Learned

  • Tackling specific real-world use cases combined with an advanced technology can be a recipe for success.
  • Being the first-mover in a promising market bodes well for the price of an ICO token.

Stratis (81,000 Percent ROI)

Stratis is a startup that offers a blockchain-as-a-service platform aimed at financial institutions that want to create industry solutions using blockchain technology. The U.K.-based company has built a development platform called nStratis that allows enterprises to develop customized blockchain applications and build their own private blockchains using Stratis’ blockchain as the underlying network.

As the startup’s development tools are largely targeted at Microsoft products, Microsoft has added Stratis’ Blockchain-as-a-Service (BaaS) to its Azure cloud service, which is targeted to companies that want to build in-house blockchain solutions.

When Stratis held its initial coin offering in June 2016, the company managed to raise around $600,000 worth of digital currency, which was deemed a big success for the project.

Stratis’ token carries the same name and comes with the ticker (STRAT). It was issued at a price of $0.007 per token.

The token’s all-time high price was $11.47 on June 5, 2017. At the time of writing this article, Stratis is trading at $5.90. That marks an 81,000 percent return on investment for early token holders within a year.

Why This Worked

The team behind Stratis has developed one of the world’s leading blockchain-as-a-service platforms, which has the potential to be adopted by a wide range of companies and public sector institutions. The price of its digital token reflects this potential.

Lessons Learned

  • Blockchain-as-a-Service platforms have the potential to become major players in global blockchain adoption. Hence, its tokens have high returns potential.
  • Building value-adding partnership with major blockchain players (such as Microsoft) usually bodes well for a project’s digital token.

ICOs are Risky Business

Buying new digital currencies at the initial coin offering stage is a very risky investment, much riskier than buying bitcoin or investing in established altcoins such as Litecoin (LTC), Ripple (XRP), or DASH. While the above-mentioned ICO tokens have outperformed their peers, they are largely exceptions to the rule. Many ICO tokens that have launched in the past six months have not seen returns anywhere near those of Stratis, Ether, etc.

Several recently launched ICO tokens are trading below their issue price, while others barely gained in value in the months following their launch. Hence, when investing in initial coin offerings, it is important to conduct thorough due diligence to ensure you are picking winners. Even when you have found projects that you deem likely to become winners, it is wise to only invest a small amount in this new niche asset class as a portfolio diversifier since ICOs are still very risky investments. Invest only what you can afford to lose.

If you want digital currency exposure for your investment portfolio, you may be better off holding bitcoin and other more established altcoins than putting money into newly issued tokens that may or may not perform.

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