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Visualizing the Rise of the ICO



The Rise of the ICO

Visualizing the Rise of the ICO

If you ask any investor about Initial Public Offerings (IPOs), you’re not likely to get an extreme range of opinions.

That’s because IPOs have been around for centuries, they’re heavily regulated, and they usually are reserved for companies with impressive traction as they transition to the public market through a storied exchange like the NYSE or Nasdaq.

During times of extreme market froth, like the Dotcom bubble, a newly public company can be the subject of intense amounts of speculation. However, in relative terms, most IPOs are fairly benign.

Companies going public simply have a very abbreviated track record, which makes them difficult to value by the market.

Introducing the ICO

Today’s infographic comes to us from Coinlist, and it showcases the long-lost cousin of the IPO: the initial coin offering (ICO).

At the most basic level, an ICO is a crowdfunded offering of a newly issued cryptocurrency that can be used as a source of capital for startup companies. Investors buy these coins or tokens with legal tender or through the exchange of other cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin or Ethereum.

And ICOs have taken off – see the incredible video on the explosion in ICOs for yourself.


Here are some major differences between ICOs and IPOs.

For a newly-listed public company, the market has limited information to assess – but usually the company has some known traction: sales, revenue, growth, etc. New listings can still be risky, but most still have some intrinsic value, even if that is just an asset at book value.

ICOs, on the other hand, are usually used to raise capital for a new idea or technology. Ethereum, which ICO’d in 2015, is a blockchain-based technology that focuses on enabling smart contracts and decentralized apps. While it wasn’t “proven” at the time of its ICO, Ethereum is now a wild success.

The only problem: not all new technologies or ideas are proven, and some will certainly crash and burn. Further, some will even be scams. Thus, the level of potential risk with ICOs cannot be understated.

Newly-listed companies are highly regulated, for better or worse.

ICOs are not regulated, though the SEC has stated that it will treat ICOs as security offerings in some situations. Meanwhile, other countries like South Korea and China have banned ICOs altogether, at least temporarily.

While early-stage venture capital and IPOs are traditionally much more difficult for the average person to get exposure to, anyone can buy into an ICO.

In this sense, the ICO offers something similar to crowdfunding: the ability for projects to raise money from a strong community of regular people. This community-based approach can also enable non-profit ventures to succeed.

A Full List of Pros/Cons

For a much more in-depth list of the pros and cons of ICOs, this article by Outlier Ventures provides some fantastic insights.

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Ranked: The Top Startup Cities Around the World

Here are the global startup ecosystem rankings, highlighting the scale and maturity of major tech hubs worldwide.



This bar chart shows the top startup ecosystems in the world in 2024.

The Top Startup Cities Around the World

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

A richly connected network of founders, venture capital firms, and tech talent are some of the key ingredients driving a startup ecosystem.

As engines of growth, these tech clusters are evolving on a global scale. While the world’s leading startup cities are concentrated in America, several ecosystems, such as Beijing and Seoul, are growing in prominence as countries focus on technological advancement to spur innovation.

This graphic shows the best startup cities worldwide, based on data from Pitchbook.

The Global Startup Ecosystem Rankings

To determine the rankings, each city was analyzed based on the scale and maturity of their startup ecosystem over a six-year period ending in the second quarter of 2023.

Among the inputs analyzed and used to calculate the overall development score were fundraising activity, venture capital deals, and exit value:

RankCityDevelopment ScoreCapital RaisedDeal CountExit Value
1🇺🇸 San Francisco90$427.6B19,898$766.3B
2🇺🇸 New York76$179.9B13,594$171.7B
3🇨🇳 Beijing76$161.2B8,835$279.2B
4🇨🇳 Shanghai73$130.3B7,422$186.8B
5🇺🇸 Los Angeles71$144.6B9,781$181.4B
6🇺🇸 Boston70$117.0B6,044$172.8B
7🇬🇧 London64$99.0B11,533$71.9B
8🇨🇳 Shenzhen63$46.4B5,020$66.3B
9🇰🇷 Seoul61$31.1B6,196$71.0B
10🇯🇵 Tokyo60$26.2B5,590$28.0B
11🇨🇳 Hangzhou59$50.7B3,361$88.7B
12🇺🇸 Washington D.C.55$43.7B2,706$28.2B
13🇺🇸 Seattle54$31.7B2,693$35.6B
14🇸🇬 Singapore52$45.7B4,507$38.0B
15🇺🇸 San Diego52$33.5B2,023$44.7B
16🇺🇸 Austin52$26.4B2,636$22.9B
17🇨🇳 Guangzhou52$24.7B1,700$24.0B
18🇮🇱 Tel Aviv51$21.0B1,936$32.2B
19🇺🇸 Denver51$26.8B2,489$29.9B
20🇩🇪 Berlin50$31.2B2,469$15.9B

San Francisco dominates the pack, with $427.6 billion in capital raised over the six-year period.

Despite a challenging funding environment, nearly 20,000 deals closed, highlighting its outsized role in launching tech startups. Both OpenAI and rival Anthropic are headquartered in the city, thanks to its broad pool of tech talent and venture capital firms. Overall, 11,812 startups were based in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2023, equal to about 20% of startups in America.

Falling next in line is New York City, which raised $179.9 billion over the same time period. Crypto firm Gemini and machine learning company, Hugging Face, are two examples of startups based in the city.

As the top-ranking hub outside of America, Beijing is home to TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, which is one of the most valuable private companies in the world.

In recent years, much of the startup funding in China is being driven by government-backed funds. In particular, these funds are focusing heavily on “hard tech” such as semiconductor-makers and electric vehicle companies that align with the government’s strategic long-term goals.

Another leading tech hub, Singapore, has the highest venture capital funding per capita worldwide. In 2023, this was equal to an impressive $1,060 in venture funding per person. By comparison, venture funding was $345 per person in the U.S., the second-highest globally.

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