Unlocking the ICO Evolution: From the 2017 Crypto Boom to Today

WP Smart Contracts
3 min readSep 27, 2023


In the ever-evolving landscape of cryptocurrency, Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) have played a pivotal role in reshaping the way startups raise funds. This fundraising method involves the creation of a new cryptocurrency, which is then sold to investors who, in turn, utilize the digital currency to access products and services offered by the company.

ICOs have gained immense popularity, particularly within the cryptocurrency sector, as they offer an alternative route for startups to secure funding without relying on traditional venture capital routes. The year 2017 witnessed an ICO frenzy, with investors pouring billions of dollars into novel cryptocurrency ventures.

The ICO Craze of 2017

The year 2017 marked a turning point for ICOs. Investors worldwide were captivated by the potential for extraordinary returns in the cryptocurrency market. This led to an unprecedented surge in ICO investments, with billions of dollars flowing into these projects.

However, the ICO market faced significant challenges in 2018. Many ICO projects failed to deliver on their promises, leading to a loss of confidence among investors. Regulatory issues and fraudulent ICOs further contributed to a decline in the market’s reputation.

Despite these setbacks, ICOs have made a remarkable comeback in recent years, surpassing the investment figures of the 2017 crypto boom.

A Decade of ICO Investments: A Glimpse into the Numbers

The table below illustrates the yearly investments in ICOs over the last ten years:

- 2013: $5.3 million
- 2014: $29.1 million
- 2015: $120 million
- 2016: $697 million
- 2017: $5.6 billion
- 2018: $7.6 billion
- 2019: $3.2 billion
- 2020: $3.8 billion
- 2021: $18.4 billion
- 2022: $10.5 billion

The data showcases a significant growth in ICO investments over the past decade, with a peak in 2021. However, 2022 witnessed a decline, likely influenced by the ongoing bear market in cryptocurrencies.

The Success Stories of Recent ICOs

In the last two years, several ICOs have captured the spotlight due to their innovative approaches and substantial fundraising achievements. Here are some notable examples:

- Axie Infinity: A play-to-earn game where players can earn cryptocurrency by breeding and battling monsters. Axie Infinity raised an astounding $3 billion in its 2021 ICO.

- Solana: Renowned for its rapid transaction speeds and low fees, Solana raised an impressive $3.2 billion during its 2021 ICO.

- Avalanche: Known for its scalability and security, Avalanche secured $2.77 billion in its 2020 ICO.

- Polygon: This layer-2 scaling solution for Ethereum enables cost-effective transactions. While not as prolific as the aforementioned ICOs, it has made significant strides in blockchain technology.

- Fantom: Renowned for its high-performance blockchain and security features, Fantom is making waves in the cryptocurrency world.

Investing in ICOs: Caution Meets Opportunity

Investing in ICOs can be a high-risk endeavor, but it also holds the potential for substantial returns. If you’re considering participating in an ICO, conducting thorough research and choosing projects aligned with your beliefs and investment strategy is paramount.


The journey of ICOs has been marked by incredible highs and challenging lows. The ICO craze of 2017 reshaped the cryptocurrency landscape, paving the way for innovative projects and significant investments. However, it also exposed vulnerabilities in the market, leading to increased regulatory scrutiny.

Today, ICOs remain a viable fundraising avenue for startups, albeit in a more regulated and cautious environment. Their resilience in the face of adversity showcases the enduring appeal of this innovative method of securing funds for groundbreaking cryptocurrency ventures.