Blockchain startups make up 20% of largest crowdfunding projects

By Alex Sunnarborg for the Venture Beat

The list of top crowdfunding campaigns is becoming increasingly blockchain dominated as of late.

As a quick refresher, the concept and structure of a “blockchain” was first introduced to the world in the bitcoin whitepaper in 2008, written under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto.

Generally, a blockchain is a public, distributed database of time-stamped “blocks” of transactions (including various data) on its network. With this series of blocks, anyone can view the entire history of transactions across the ledger and come to consensus on its current state.

The design of Satoshi’s open-source bitcoin blockchain inspired many to contribute to the bitcoin codebase  —  and many to start working on their own extensions of the software.

A few years later, Ethereum, a new blockchain structure, was introduced. The Ethereum blockchain was designed “with a built-in fully fledged Turing-complete programming language,” allowing users to code custom “smart contracts” into its blockchain. Thus, Ethereum functions as something of a distributed computer running diverse programs and applications continuously worldwide (including those “that have nothing to do with money at all”).

And it’s Ethereum’s launch that seems to have sparked the uptick in big blockchain crowdfunding campaigns, since without  Ethereum’s own crowdfunded launch of its “decentralized app platform,”  the next four blockchain companies listed wouldn’t even exist.

highest crowdfunding campaigns

Now, let’s take a look at each of the individual blockchain ventures that have ranked in the top 25 of crowdfunding campaigns.


Ethereum’s crowdsale was conducted via the sale of Ether (ETH),  the underlying token used to operate the Ethereum platform . Ether is  the “fuel” for the decentralized super computer — the currency used to pay for computation (whether that be app-building or interacting with “smart contracts”)  on the Ethereum network.

  • About $18.4 million was invested into Ether (ETH) during Ethereum’s crowdsale from 7/23/2014 to 9/2/2014, in the form of 31,000 Bitcoin (BTC).
  • About 9,000 purchases took place, giving us an average of about $2,000. Data.
  • Ethereum’s successful fundraising was the catalyst for the next wave of blockchain related crowdfunding projects.


Augur offers a prediction market platform and “future of forecasting” on real world events. It allows users to place custom bets and trade real money worldwide by taking advantage of Ethereum’s decentralized infrastructure (the code resides in the Ethereum blockchain, so nobody can “shut it off”), as opposed to traditional products that may be subject to various legal and regulatory constraints in certain jurisdictions.

  • About $5.3 million was invested into Augur’s Reputation (REP) tokens during the crowdsale from 8/17/2015 to 10/1/2015, in the form of 19,000 BTC and 1.1 Million ETH.
  • Roughly 4,800 accounts participated in the sale, equating to an average purchase of about $1,100. Sale info and data.


A decentralized app platform (similar to Ethereum), except “written in JavaScript and running on Sidechains,” Lisk allows a user to “code, deploy, and use” their own decentralized applications in a “simple, fast, and secure” fashion on the Lisk network. Lisk touts its network’s “familiar working environment (using Node.js)”, “rich toolset”, and “easy to use APIs”. Core to Lisk’s success will be the quality of apps built upon it and its general userbase.

  • About $5.8 million was invested into Lisk (LISK) during the crowdsale from 2/22/2016 to 3/21/2016, in the form of BTC and other blockchain assets. Sale info and data.
  • Some 3,900 participants were involved in the sale, giving us an average purchase of about $1,500. Data.


  • $5.5 million was invested into DigixDAO/DGD tokens during the crowdsale, which began 3/28/2016 and closed after hitting the fundraising goal/cap in just 14 hours. Announcement, sale info / data, and DigixDAO whitepaper.
  • Roughly 465,000 ETH were invested by 675 addresses, representing an average purchase of about $8,100. Data.


The DAO is a flexible decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) “leveraging the wisdom of the crowds to benefit the DAO Token Holders.” The organization is structured as a series of smart contracts granting token holders voting rights (somewhat similar to more traditional corporate equity) and “control” over their proportion of invested ETH. The DAO’s infrastructure enables voting on any sort of expenditure the organization could make (such as hiring and paying contractors to work on their proposals, investing the ETH fund into another asset, and even “splitting” the DAO).

  • About $77 million has been invested into The DAO tokens since the start of the crowdsale on 4/30/2016.
  • About 7.3 million ETH were invested by 11,800 addresses, representing an average purchase of about $6,500. Data.
  • The DAO Token sale continues until 5/28/2016. Sale info.

As you can see, many of the latest blockchain related projects are not only disrupting existing business models and industries but are completely redefining the standard structures behind fundraising and corporate governance.

Disclaimer: All viewpoints are completely my own. Nothing presented represents the viewpoints, opinions, etc. of any corporation or organization and all data/charts/analyses are for illustrative and discussion purposes only and should not be construed or interpreted as fact, advice, recommendation, or anything of similar nature.

Alex Sunnarborg is CFO and cofounder of, a mobile app for investing in bitcoin and blockchain technologies. Previously, he was a municipal investment banking analyst at Raymond James, and prior to that, he worked in wealth management.