AP & Forbes Backed Civil Blockchain Startup Offers Full Refund After ICO Fails

Blockchain Startup Civil Fails To Meet Soft Cap, To Offer Refund

The Civil Media Co., a startup that aspires to utilize blockchain technology to address some of the distress tormenting the world of journalism, is going back to square one in its efforts to raise money through an initial coin offering.

There were many skeptics about Civil’s ambitious plans and they turned out to be right. Civil’s ICO, in which it aimed to raise $8 million, meant to fund the company’s effort to create a new economy for journalism using the blockchain, failed to attract sufficient interest. The company announced today that it would provide refunds to all CVL token buyers by October 29.

Civil’s intention was to sell 34 million CVL tokens for between $8 million and $24 million. The sale began on September 18 and concluded yesterday. Ultimately, 1,012 buyers purchased $1,435,491 worth of CVL tokens. On Tuesday, Civil said it was canceling the token sale and would offer full refunds to those who had bought tokens.

Civil wants its tokens to be a way for readers and patrons to have a bigger stake in the news websites that the company features as its partners. All participants are bound by a journalistic code of ethics, and the tokens are a form of leverage for the community to challenge any content they think runs afoul of that code. Civil also intends for tokens to be used to tip journalists.

A recent Wall Street Journal report claimed Civil had reached out to The New York Times, The Washington Post, Dow Jones, and Axios, among others, but failed to incite interest in its token. An analysis of Civil’s token sale by NiemanLab noted that some people found it difficult to buy into Civil, although the company began letting people buy tokens with cash and made customer support more available.

“We're disappointed, but we're as committed as ever to seeing Civil out in the world,” Civil CEO Matthew Iles says. They aren’t giving up. Iles added that a “new, much simpler token sale” is in the works. And while the people who bought tokens during the last sale are entitled to a refund, Iles added that they will also be given an option to opt into the new sale. They can also ask immediately for a refund, or will otherwise be automatically refunded at the end of the month.

Although it is not immediately clear when the new sale is going to start, Iles said the company would share details “soon.” Civil has enough money to stay operational. A blockchain software business called ConsenSys has given the company $3.5 million, which Civil says will fund existing grants to the 14 newsrooms that are participating right now.

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