The Unparalleled Explosion in Cryptocurrencies
The Unparalleled Explosion in Cryptocurrencies
Over 300 new coins reached $1mm market cap in 2017
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After the massive Bitcoin price surge in November 2013, the popularity of launching new cryptocurrencies took off along with it.
In fact, if you go back at historical snapshots around that time, you’ll see that there were literally hundreds of new coins available to mine and buy. Here’s one from November 2014 – a time when there were only 32 coins that were worth more than $1 million in market cap, and 354 coins that were worth less than $50,000, usually trading for tiny fractions of a cent.
It seems like everyone and their dog were launching cryptocurrencies back then, even if they were a longshot to materialize into anything.
Then vs. Now
Fast forward to today, and things haven’t changed much – many people and companies are still launching new cryptocurrencies through a mechanism known as an ICO (Initial Coin Offering).
The only difference?
Today, there is real money at play, and in 12 months the number of cryptocurrencies worth >$1 million has soared by 468%. Meanwhile, the total value of all currencies together has skyrocketed by 1,466%.
Cryptocurrency is so hot, in fact, that raising money through ICOs has become more effective than traditional early-stage angel and VC funding.
For the long-time advocates of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, it is now their moment in the sun.
And with this ICO activity and a wealth of opportunities emerging, a new breed of Bitcoin millionaire has been born. Like the wealthy tech founders that exit and give back to their local startup ecosystems, these new digital tycoons are using their newfound wealth to invest in upstart crypto projects that show potential – ultimately, further enhancing the ecosystem.
Out of the Woodwork
Of course, whenever there is a massive surge in prices and speculation, there are two other players that tend to come out of the woodwork.
One is of the scammer and shyster variety, and certainly crypto-fueled scams are a concern for everyone else in the broader ecosystem.
Perhaps even a bigger threat, however, are the regulators – and in recent weeks the SEC has voiced concerns about ICO “pump and dump” schemes, while Canadian authorities have clearly stated that “most ICOs need oversight”.
With the market exploding with hundreds of new cryptocurrencies and the total value reaching $177 billion, a new series of questions has emerged: what risk do ICO scams ultimately have on market? And, could misguided regulation disrupt the momentum of the crypto boom?
Charting the Number of Failed Crypto Coins, by Year (2013-2022)
We visualize over 2,000 crypto failures by year of death, and year of project origin. See how and why crypto projects die in these charts.
The Number of Failed Crypto Coins, by Year (2013-2022)
Ever since the first major crypto boom in 2011, tens of thousands of cryptocurrency coins have been released to market.
And while some cryptocurrencies performed well, others have ceased to trade or have ended up as failed or abandoned projects.
These graphics from CoinKickoff break down the number of failed crypto coins by the year they died, and the year they started. The data covers a decade of coin busts from 2013 through 2022.
What is the marker of a “dead” crypto coin?
This analysis reviewed data from failed crypto coins listed on Coinopsy and cross-referenced against CoinMarketCap to verify previous market activity. The reason for each coin death was also tabulated, including:
- Failed Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs)
- Abandonment with less than $1,000 in trade volume over a three-month period
- Scams or coins that were meant as a joke
Dead Crypto Coins from 2013 to 2022
While many familiar crypto coins—Litecoin, Dogecoin, and Ethereum—are still on the market today, there were at least 2,383 crypto coins that bit the dust between 2013 and 2022.
Here’s a breakdown of how many crypto coins died each year by reason:
|Abandoned / |
|Scams / |
|ICO Failed / |
|Joke / No
Abandoned coins with flatlining trading volume accounted for 1,584 or 66.5% of analyzed crypto failures over the last decade. Comparatively, 22% ended up being scam coins, and 10% failed to launch after an ICO.
As for individual years, 2018 saw the largest total of annual casualties in the crypto market, with 751 dead crypto coins. More than half of them were abandoned by investors, but 237 coins were revealed as scams or embroiled in other controversies, such as BitConnect which turned out to be a Ponzi scheme.
Why was 2018 such a big year for crypto failures?
This is largely because the year prior saw Bitcoin prices climb above $1,000 for the first time with an eventual peak near $19,000. As a result, speculation ran hot, new crypto issuances boomed, and many investors and firms got bullish on the market for the first time.
How Many Newly Launched Coins Died?
Of the hundreds of coins that launched in 2017, more than half were considered defunct by the end of 2022.
Indeed, a lot of earlier-launched coins have since died. The majority of coins launched between 2013 and 2017 have already become “dead coins” by the end of 2022.
|Coin Start Year||Dead Coins by 2022|
Part of this is because the cryptocurrency field itself was still being figured out. Many coins were launched in a time of experimentation and innovation, but also of volatility and uncertainty.
However, the trend began to shift in 2018. Only 27.62% of coins launched in that year have bit the dust so far, and the failure rates in 2019 and 2020 fell further to only 4.74% and 1.03% of launched coins, respectively.
This suggests that the crypto industry has become more mature and stable, with newer projects establishing themselves more securely and investors becoming wiser to potential scams.
How will this trend evolve into 2023 and beyond?
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