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I Analyzed 1000 Crypto ICOs, Here Is What I Learned

Ren & Heinrich· 5 min read

In this article, I share my insights from analyzing the price performance of hundreds of crypto projects at specific timestamps (days after public listing: 1, 10, 60, 365). The results are relevant both for investors in ICOs and for buyers of projects immediately after their public listing.

Please note that this is not an academic study. Still, I believe the findings are of added value for crypto investors.

And with that, let’s get started!

The Dataset

The data I used for this analysis comes from https://coinmarketcap.com/ico-calendar/ended/. It consists of a total of 983 ICOs that took place between January 2019 and October 2022.

As you can see in the chart below, the majority of ICOs in this dataset happened in 2021 and 2022. This will become important when I interpret the data throughout this article.

ICO Prices

The following chart shows the distribution of ICO prices — the prices at which coins or tokens were sold at different stages of the funding process.

It is striking that the majority of projects set the price at just a few US cents. Less than 10% set price at or above one US Dollar. This coincides with conversations I had with the executives of various crypto projects — according to which many projects choose such a low price mainly for psychological reasons. As it turns out, many (inexperienced) investors associate a low ICO price with higher future growth potential. As we will see later on, this assumption is wrong.

ICO Funding Goals

Most projects aimed to raise up to $500K with a significant part setting goals at $1M or more. A few more insights from the data:

On average, the average funding goals of the individual projects in 2019, 2020 and, to a lesser extent, 2021 were significantly higher than in 2022. There are two explanations for this.

  • Since most of the projects in the data set come from 2021 and 2022, the higher number depresses the average of the funding goals for these years.
  • From 2019 to 2021, the conditions for funding were better than in 2022. This also corresponds to reports from the financial sector and from start-ups that in 2022 it has become much more difficult to acquire start-up capital.

ICO Performance After Public Listing — 1st Day

Now let’s move on to the main part of this analysis. Here is the performance of ICOs in the dataset on the 1st day after the public listing.

Median: 253%1st quartile: 74%3rd quartile: 766%

As the data shows, on average, the crypto projects from the database saw large price increases on the 1st day. However, the spread was very wide, as some projects showed a plus of several thousand or ten thousand percent.

The chart below visualizes the performance of a representative part of the analyzed crypto projects on the 1st day.

ICO Performance After Public Listing — 365th* Day

Note: Since the projects published in 2022 were less than 365 days old at the time of this analysis, I used the latest available price.

A year later, the picture looks drastically different for most of the projects.

Median: -80%1st quartile: -93%3rd quartile: -15%

Most coins and tokens have lost between 80 and 90% of their value compared to their ICO prices. It looks even worse if you take the price from the first day of public listing as a reference point. Then you see a deterioration of more than 90% in most projects.

This can be seen in the chart below.

You will notice the comparatively good performance of the projects from 2020. This is because one year after their public listing, these coins and tokens were in the middle of a bull market.

ICO Performance Over Time

In order to better understand the development of the individual projects over time, I recorded the performance at four timestamps: the 1st, 10th, 60th, and 365th day. This is illustrated in the chart below which covers a representative sample of all ICOs.

The numbers behind the project names are the percentage increases. What is somewhat lost in this graphic are the many projects that have developed negatively over the course of a year.

What is striking is that for most new crypto projects, a large sales process by early investors begins within the first few days after their public listing. In some cases, the influx of retail investors in the first two weeks means that the price is even slightly higher as can be seen on the mark for the 10th day. But in almost all cases, prices have already fallen massively by the 60th day.

Takeaways for Investors

Based on these insights, investors can draw several conclusions when it comes to investing in ICOs or newly listed projects.

  1. Investments in ICOs in the financing phase are worthwhile in most cases with a big price jump for public listing — provided that the available liquidity on the exchanges allows you to sell your holdings within the first few days.
  2. Anyone who buys in the first few days after the public listing will most likely have to accept a large loss in value over the course of the first year. Simply said: If you buy new coins right after their listing you are exit liquidity for early investors.
  3. This analysis confirms other reports saying that a majority of new projects fail.
  4. Anyone planning to keep a new project long-term should keep a close eye on Bitcoin’s long-term cycle. Projects published in 2020 benefited massively from the 2021 bull market, while projects published in 2022 are suffering greatly from the current bear market.
  5. Funding goal size had minimal impact on the later performance of individual projects. Meaning that a lot of $$$ collected during the funding phase does not guarantee that the project will hold up to expectations.
  6. ICO price had minimal impact on the later performance of individual projects.
  7. According to my data, projects that tried to collect funds on multiple platforms saw some of the worst performances over the long term.

Disclaimer: This article is only for informational purposes only, it should NOT be used as financial advice.

# ICO # Crypto

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