Businessman Kevin O’Leary, most familiar to American readers as the self-styled “Mr. Wonderful” from entrepreneurial talent-spotting show Shark Tank, has announced that he is involved in a “huge”, upcoming ICO, this time based around a prestigious New York hotel, a deal he describes as “the first of its kind.”
For O’Leary, this kind of arrangement – provided it works – will eventually replace small cap stock issues as a way for businesses to raise funding.
Replacing the Traditional IPO
The transparent nature of the blockchain, and the lower costs associated with an ICO compared to having to pay investment bankers 5-7% commission on a traditional IPO, makes the model particularly attractive if, that is, companies can stay on the right side of the SEC.
The hotel in question was not named as O’Leary is subject to a non-disclosure agreement. However, he described it as a “very prestigious brand hotel” and a “real asset you’ve heard of.”
O’Leary announced the move on CNBC’s Squawkbox program, and said the ICO would be fully compliant with SEC regulations. In his view all ICOs should approach regulators with an attitude of, “I want to work with you.”
Provided ICOs can show they fit into the existing financial system and stress that they “don’t want to destroy the government,” but just “want to make money,” authorities should stay on side.
Describing the deal, he said that a proportion of the hotel would be tokenized and made available to the public. But rather than a traditional fund-raising attempt, “instead of a stock, a share, it’s a coin” and possessing that coin meant “you will be a [part] owner of one-third of this hotel.”
Fellow Shark Tank judge Mark Cuban is also dipping his toe into ICO waters, acting as advisor to the Current Media ICO. Long-interested in cryptocurrency, he has announced that from next season customers will be able to buy tickets in Bitcoin and Ethereum for all Dallas Mavericks home games.