I knew I’d eventually have to write something about cryptocurrencies and employment. I didn’t, however, think the first time would be covering a fundraising strategy for a startup out of Europe. I’m a bit out of my comfort zone, but here we go.
Chances are, many of you have heard of Bitcoin, Ethereum, or Litecoin, some of the most notable cryptocurrencies that exist. You may know that such currencies are gaining favor in the real world, and countries outside of the U.S., and that there’s currently a feeding frenzy around cryptocurrencies that would make a dotcom bubble blush. Totally lost? Checkout Wikipedia.
The concept of using cryptocurrency to raise money, especially for a startup, however, is probably a totally new concept for most readers. I consider myself pretty cutting edge, and I just became familiar with the term ICO, or initial coin offering, less than a month ago.
What is it? An initial coin offering, or ICO, is a fundraising mechanism in which a company issues crypto tokens to its users in exchange for Ethereum or Bitcoin. The idea is not unlike an IPO (initial public offering). Again, here’s Wikipedia, in case you need a deeper dive. And if you want to get an idea at how prevalent this is, checkout ICO Alert.
It’s kind of nuts, and it’s no that surprise ICOs are starting to creep into the recruiting space. In both cases I found, mobile apps Moonlighting and ConnectJob are looking to ICOs to raise funds, as well as leverage blockchain technology to bring buyers and sellers together in the gig economy, or as ConnectJob calls them, “jobbers.”
Moonlighting will become the first U.S.-based freelance marketplace to incorporate blockchain technology into its platform. According to Moonlighting’s site, using blockchain technology, the service will be safer, faster and, most importantly, cheaper, because middlemen, such as banks, will be eliminated. They’re calling their coin Moonbit.
“The Moonbit token makes hiring and working in the freelance economy global and inclusive,” the company explains on its ICO page. “Acting as the primary currency within the Moonlighting ecosystem, the Moonbit allows independent workers and employers to pay for freelance services, purchase premium advertising packages, and will reward engagement within the ecosystem.”
“An initial coin offering is very similar to an initial public offering,” said Moonlighting Founder and CEO Jeff Tennery, describing the company’s ICO planned for first quarter 2018 to the Charlottesville CBS affiliate. “It gives us as a smaller company a chance to sell virtual coins and tokens in a currency we call the Moonbit that can be used within our marketplace to make payments, buy services, and give people all the freelance support they need using our marketplace.”
Digital longevity, U.S. roots, partnership development and a solid executive team point to Moonlighting doing better than ConnectJob, but the latter has the head start. Based in Eastern Europe, ConnectJob launched an ICO pre-sale in November, promising to “disrupt the $900 billion gig economy.” Launching its ICO web site December 1, the company is riding the wave, promoting its currency, dubbed CJT or Connect Job Token.
The headline, of course, is how much the ICO has already raised this startup. As of this writing, ConnectJob’s ICO has raised over $1 million. Not bad for a little over a week, huh? The company is hoping to raise a total of $10 million, which, at this rate, it’ll accomplish before the trees start budding in the Midwest. It has lofty goals to have 20 million monthly users in the next five years, which it lays out in its ICO white paper.
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I downloaded both apps, and it’s pretty obvious that Moonlighting is way ahead of ConnectJob, although, to be fair, ConnectJob is really targeting large cities, and I live in itty-bitty Indianapolis. The “jobbers” I found near me were actually from places like Moscow. Giggers I found on Moonlighting were actually nearby and looked legit, although they weren’t formidable in number. Needless to say, buyer beware regarding each one’s ICO.
For what it’s worth, the publications are pretty bullish on the opportunities behind blockchain and the gig economy. “Uber is private and hard to value but it is rumored to be worth $51 billion and only focuses on the taxi market,” says Cryptonews. “Imagine the value of a company that focuses on every ‘side-hustle’ type job.” If that sounds too good to be true, you may be right, as the site also ends its pump piece by adding “do your own research.”