“This Isn’t How We Saw This Going”: Civil’s Token Sale Is Treading Water

Despite a flurry of media attention surrounding the project, Civil, an Ethereum-based platform aiming to save journalism, can’t seem to get enough buyers for its token.

The project released a transparency report showing the figures behind its CVL token sale, which ends at 11:59 p.m. EST on Monday, October 15, 2018, and the numbers do not look good.

“This isn’t how we saw this going,” Civil founder Matthew Iles wrote on October 10. “We don’t know if it will work.”

The project needs to raise $8 million to meet its “soft cap” goal, but, so far, it has only raised $1.3 million from 680 people since September 18, 2018, when the sale started. The ICO money would have supported grants for Civil newsrooms, as well as original journalistic work. Civil has said in the past it will refund people if it can’t raise enough to meet its goal.

Most of the tokens ($1.1 million worth) were bought by ConsenSys, a blockchain venture studio run by Joseph Lubin, an Ethereum cofounder. ConsenSys purchased the tokens in two separate buys last month, the report said. The venture studio also backed Civil with $5 million in funding in October 2017. ConsenSys is the project’s sole investor to date.

Civil has a fixed supply of 100 million tokens. The project is holding on to 33 million tokens. Some of that will go to employees and advisors who contributed to the project early on. Another 33 million tokens will go to “mission-aligned partners” who joined the network at launch. (The Associated Press and Forbes count among those partners.) And the final 34 million tokens were to be sold to raise money for the project. Civil said it was hoping to close several large buyers in addition to ConsenSys to “go the distance,” but that hasn’t happened.

One of the problems is that Civil is only allowing individuals who actually plan to use the tokens on the platform to participate in the sale. Purchasers have to pass a test before they are allowed to buy CVL, and, according to some reports, the test is really hard to pass, especially for people who are unfamiliar with the crypto space. That means that the average investor is getting left out.

Regulatory action over the past year has also taken most of the air out of the ICO bubble that was so prominent in 2017, when ICOs were raising millions of dollars within minutes.

Iles said that “until the clock strikes midnight on Monday, we are still working nonstop on the goal of making our soft cap of $8 million.” Even if the ICO is a failure, Iles said the project will continue with support from ConsenSys until it can sustain itself “via commercial activity.”

Nevertheless, the project still needs to find a way to distribute its tokens. “There are a number of hoops to jump through to buy CVL and to prove you are not a speculator,” a Civil spokesperson told Bitcoin Magazine. “It’s not easy, and we think it needs to get better…” He went on to add: “What we will need to do is distribute them in a more continuous matter, without being tied to a soft cap or a set deadline.”

Civil said it will publish another update on its CVL sale on October 16, 2018, and plans to launch its initial publishing and governance platform within one week.

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