Dear Publicists: Stop Spamming My Inbox With Crazy ICO Pitches

The Regulatory Uncertainties Surrounding ICOs

This initial coin offering craze is taking over my inbox.

If you report on cryptocurrencies, are involved in technology somehow, or maybe even if you tweeted about bitcoin once, chances are you’re getting bombarded with emails on the latest ICO that will revolutionize the world. And maybe some will! But it’s just too hard to tell with all the noise. So here’s a message to the very diligent public relations agencies promoting these new digital assets: chill.

With investors already throwing more than $3 billion into the space, you can hardly blame cash-starved developers for wanting to jump on the ICO train. From my own experience, I know journalists need to set aside a solid 30 minutes each day to go through all the ICO press releases. A growing trend is the "ICO pre-sale," where participants (don’t call them investors lest you rattle the Securities and Exchange Commission!) get access to the tokens at favorable terms.

A colleague got one of these pitches this morning from a bitcoin exchange planning to issue its own digital token. It touts "you are among the select few to have the ability to contribute at a 20% discounted offer." The password to access the pre-sale website is "ParticipateInSuccess." How could one say no to that?

There are more than 1,000 digital coins, including bitcoin, vying for attention. Most of these projects are only backed by a white paper and sometimes a few lines of code, so PR teams are hustling to entice investors. If a pre-sale won’t do it, maybe a celebrity endorsement will, and if Paris Hilton doesn’t write a post, maybe they’ll have to settle for a news story.

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