The DAO (decentralised autonomous organisation), rose Prometheus-like and betokened a complete re-imagining of what Ronald Coase called the nature of the firm. But in reality it quickly grew into a monstrous, bloated bounty of speculative capital. Within the DAO contract were lines of code that literally changed blockchain history. A weakness allowed an attacker to make a recursive call to the contract, syphoning $60m (£49m, €54m) worth of tokens from it. In the end the monster was frozen, forked and drained.
But that was not the end of the story; hardforking Ethereum after the attack saw the establishment of a second chain, Ethereum Classic (ETC), which has lumbered on as an undying pledge for censorship resistance at any cost.
Now, the DAO has been brought back to life on ETC – at least in name – in the form of the Borg DAO (it stands for blockchain operated revenue generating DAO and is not a reference to Star Trek).
As a starting point, Borg DAO founder Andreas Schuetz pointed out the token sale, which begins today, is capped at $2m. He said: "We have kept it intentionally low because we have learnt from the DAO that it's completely reckless to a have an un-uncapped sale."
The purpose of the Borg DAO is to fund and foster Dapp development on the ETC network. The extent to which the Borg DAO will breathe life into Ethereum Classic is "basically unpredictable and unforeseen", said Schuetz, adding there is a lot being developed behind the scenes and a feeling of a fresh start for the unstoppable blockchain.
Schuetz said the Borg DAO has no withdraw option so investors know that their funds are committed to building DApps on the network. He said the funds themselves are stored in a multisig contract, and also mentioned a non-profit has been established just for the purpose of securing these funds.
"I can't go into exact details, but keys to the multisig will be stored in separate locations and will be on completely offline machines, so even if a physical attacker should enter our building they won't have a chance to take any of the funds because you would need multiple keys to do that.
"If the financial incentive is there then developers will come. In the beginning I think it was very chaotic and also I would say a bit emotional in the community. But over time the focus will again return to the technology."
Not everyone is enthusiastic about token sales. Bas Wisselink and Dave Pearce of the NXT platform have eschewed the obligatory ICO for their new blockchain Ardor. They take a realistic view of crypto crowdsales.
"These businesses fall into several categories," said Wisselink. "Some are legitimate businesses that actually do this, some are people who raise money and are just incompetent in running a business and then everybody loses this money, then there are the out and out scams."
Wisselink likened investor interest in ICOs to the Silicon Valley VC model. "It's a random crap shoot; they might lose out on majority and gain high on a few.
"It's a new way of making money and like any easy way of making money it's gameable. You see this in the whole Kickstarter culture too. We also see it in things like Patreon for instance, where you pay individual developers a monthly fee for previews of their software. I see that also misused a lot; people just disappear with the money," he said.
Dave Pearce of NXT added: "I think there are a lot of big investors, not under their own name, doing this. And there are probably kids of 13 putting their pocket money into it. The people who got into mining tend to be quite young, 20s or 30s. Now they have moved over into investment and started making some serious amounts of cash. So for a lot of these guys this is literally magic internet money. It's just play cash."
Wisselink flagged up the $50m funding cap attached to the EtherCamp crowdsale of its new token, Hacker Gold (HKG) – something which has caused a flurry of interest on Reddit.
Roman Mandeleil, founder and CEO, EtherCamp dispelled rumours about the sale. He said: "We are doing the crowdsale for the Virtual Accelerator platform. We don't know what will be the outcome of this sale. The rumours about a bunch of money are really not more than rumours.
"What is more important is that we are not the DAO 2.0, we are doing something completely different and I will give you just one fundamental difference – while the DAO was collecting funds and trying to fund projects, we are building a platform to make matching between backers and young seed stage startups."
Meanwhile, Preston Byrne, COO, Monax (formerly Eris Industries) is emerging as the most vocal critic of token sales. Byrne said: "Selling crypto-tokens on blockchains is as absurd as selling rows in a SQL table. Blockchain tech is, should be, and when properly applied to a real commercial problem, will be entirely free to its users. I do not and will not ever approve of the practice of selling magical internet money, as an investment, to fund protocol development."