ICO’s, DAO’s, and the SEC: A Partnership Solution

Oren, Ori

In the summer of 2017, a new method of funding startup businesses exploded from a small capital market to one worth billions. “Initial Coin Offerings” (“ICOs”) can appear to be a simple crowdfunding campaign or a public stock offering at the same time and, until recently, have been conducted with no regulatory oversight. Due to the high risk of fraud, the SEC has begun cracking down on ICOs, requiring many issuers to register their “ICO tokens” as securities or halt trading entirely. This Note looks at the regulatory precedents and factors that the SEC has considered to decide whether a token is a security, and proposes an alternative legal system to securities law that may be better suited for regulating certain types of ICO tokens. This Note concludes that, for ICOs that raise money for a decentralized autonomous organization—in which all token purchasers hold equal management rights—uniform partnership law is the ideal mode of regulation.

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Columbia Business Law Review

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November 26, 2019