The announcement that Gab launched its own ICO has sparked controversy in the crypto community, in relation to the supposed “political” standpoint of the social network.
While Gab describes itself as an ideologically agnostic platform – “The only social media protocol where all are welcome to speak freely,” a recent article on Coindesk lead with the pretentiously worded headline ‘Alt-Right ICO?’ provoking backlash on Coindesk’s own discussion board.
Many users rightfully pointed out that the platform should not be labeled “Alt-Right” simply because a portion of its users identify as such, citing that a vast majority of Gab’s user base consists of Conservatives and Libertarians, who don’t necessarily hold Alt-Right beliefs. Coindesk staunchly defended their editorial, to the chagrin of objective readers.
All envy and virtue-signaling aside, Gab’s ICO is worth looking into, not just for those who advocate free speech, but because of the platform’s decision to take a compliant route to acquiring investors.
According to Gab’s SEC filing, Gab has chosen to adhere to Reg A+, an implementation of the 2012 JOBS Act that allows non-accredited U.S. investors to purchase equity in American startups.
Gab CEO Andrew Torba followed up by clarifying that the company has created 2 million ethereum-based “gab” tokens that effectively function as Class B shares in the company itself. This means ICO investors will actually receive partial ownership of Gab, not unlike owning shares in a “traditional” business. At $5 each, Gab tokens will represent 16.6% of the total equity in the business, Torba stated, adding:
“There’s no tricks or utility made-up nonsense. It’s an equity token plain and simple.”
Equity held in the form of gab tokens may be reduced later with the issuance of new shares of common or preferred stock, but it should be noted that tokens do not afford voting rights. As per Gab’s SEC filing, “Because the GAB Tokens have no voting rights, investors will not be able to participate in any stockholder votes, including, the election of any directors.”
Gab is also foregoing exchanges, opting to offer tokens strictly through a third party, Start Engine, with minimum investment starting at 50 Gab tokens ($250). Start Engine is the first platform to conduct SEC-regulated ICOs, with Gab being the first successfully-funded Reg A+ ICO to date. Indeco launched their Reg A+ ICO Dec. 5, 2017, however, they did not meet funding expectations, raising only $171,287.
Other notable regulated ICOs, such as FileCoin and Science, have chosen the Reg D path, restricting token offerings to accredited investors. Gab, on the other hand, wants to offer their tokens to more than just the wealthiest of investors.
Gab tokens will be issued as Ethereum-based ERC-20 smart contracts on the Ethereum blockchain, investors can obtain an ERC-20 compatible crypto-wallet through companies such as MyEtherWallet, Mist, Parity and imToken.
In addition to establishing shared ownership in the company, the tokens may at some point be usable through a concept that Gab is calling the Exodus protocol. While not many details are available just yet, official sources are making statements that imply that at one point, the tokens could be used as a way to help the network spread its server load, and theoretically earn a cryptocurrency reward for doing so. At this point, however, only speculation is available, as Gab has yet to announce any technical details of the protocol.
According to a statement by Gab’s founders published on Medium:
“Our vision is to create an incentivized communication protocol that empowers any developer or creator to build on top of a decentralized and censorship-proof online community without the need for any middleman or gatekeeper. Whether you are a developer, a content creator, or a consumer in the community: everyone will be rewarded by the Gab protocol.”
Torba’s “new internet” is here, and it’s owned by its users, not Big Tech.