Telegram is planning to expand upon its encrypted messaging service by building out the Telegram Open Network, an ambitious platform that will use bleeding edge (currently experimental) blockchain infrastructure to scale accordingly to its near 200 million users. However, since its launch in 2013, Telegram has not pursued any revenue models despite multiple proposals such as implementing a payment service to compete with the likes of WhatsApp. This persistent lack of revenue has likely drained the coffers of sibling founders Pavel and Nikolai Durov, whose fortune comes from the sale of their previous venture, leading Russian social network VK.com.
As covered by TokenVerse, the Telegram team has gone the route of the initial coin offering (ICO) to secure funding. The incredible numbers involved have drawn both interest from investors as well as criticism from commentators within the blockchain/cryptocurrency space.
No longer a prospective course, a filing with the SEC for exemption from securities laws reveals that the Telegram team has indeed raised $850 million in a private pre-sale. This would make it the largest raise of any token generation event today, surpassing the massive amounts raised by Tezos, FileCoin, and the ongoing EOS sale by hundreds of millions.
But there is more.
In an exclusive with Verge, various sources have indicated that Telegram is planning on holding another pre-sale for accredited investors with a similar target to the first round.
If this pans out, that would result in a pre-sale raise of $1.6 billion before it is even offered to the public.
The development of the Telegram Open Network and the launch of the Gram cryptocurrency are detailed in a massive 130 page technical whitepaper, yet despite the info-density, there is still some obscurity on fundamental aspects of a distributed system of this scope, such as governance.
Perhaps Telegram is adopting the benevolent dictator approach to software development by having complete control of the ship’s maintenance and trajectory to later let the community and the network direct the course.
In the current design, the TON Foundation will oversee the TON Reserve, which will hold 50% of the total supply of Grams. The reasoning is that there are multiple instances in which the TON Foundation will need Grams to build out certain aspects of the platform. The TON Foundation is also planning on making the Gram an “exponentially priced cryptocurrency” with certain mechanisms in place to insulate it from market volatility. Despite the centralized beginnings, the TON Foundation plans to make the Open Network as decentralized as possible.
While there is much more money to be raised, the question on everyone’s mind will be whether or not the Brothers Durov and presumably an army of developers can deliver. Current blockchain-based networks struggle with virtual cat trading much less a 200+ million user base with messaging, payments, and extensive third-party development to boot.
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