PROVO — In a move that's becoming increasingly popular with tech-centric companies, Provo's Heroic.com is launching a $41 million fundraising effort that will offer cryptocurrency tokens for sale in lieu of the more traditional venture capital or stock offering routes.
The cybersecurity firm plans to leverage the funding to build out a cloud-based cybersecurity software package that the company says will "provide a universal solution to protect against current and future cyberattacks."
Heroic CEO Chad Bennett said Tuesday the system, which will be built on a decentralized, blockchain platform and driven by an artificial intelligence engine, is an evolution of security systems that have been available to large businesses and corporations for years, but is just now making its way to the consumer market.
"Enterprise operations have had this for the last five or more years, but it hasn’t trickled down to you and I," Bennett said. "That's really the reason behind why we got into this. A lot of people have had this level of protection where they work, but the moment that individual steps outside the bubble, steps out of the office, you’re no longer protected."
Bennett said one of the biggest advantages to building the company's Guardian software product on an open, decentralized blockchain platform is the system's openness to other application builders.
"The HEROIC.com ecosystem will be openly available to developers and companies alike to build their own intelligent solutions," Bennett said. "As more users join the network, the more secure everyone becomes. The combination of big data with artificial intelligence and the blockchain is a completely new paradigm for cyberprotection.”
Bennett said the decision to seek funding via an initial coin offering, or ICO, instead of other more-established methods, came down to his faith in virtual currencies — he has mined Bitcoin since the cryptocurrency's early days — and the desire to build a community of engaged supporters of the company.
"Before we did our ICO we were talking to venture capitalists and seriously considering going into a VC round and were flattered by the interest we received," Bennett said. "But we realized we needed a community to do this, and taking the ICO route was the best solution for us to fulfill that mission."
While a slew of controversy has swirled around cryptocurrencies as a fundraising vehicle, Bennett said he and his team have taken great care to ensure they're abiding by U.S. Securities and Exchange guidelines, albeit the ICO realm remains mostly unregulated.
The SEC has stipulated a number of rules and tests to assess whether a particular investment represents a security or not. Bennett said in the case of Heroic's ICO, they are not issuing a security nor does purchase of their new token confer any ownership or equity in the company. A common analogy for initial coin offerings is that token purchasers are buying a "membership" for a "club." Another advantage for token purchasers is that once the tokens are issued, they have immediate liquidity, i.e., owners can sell or exchange their coins whenever, and to whomever, they like.
Fundraising via ICO has been on an explosive growth cycle. Financial news website Business Insider reports while companies raised about $240 million in 2016, last year saw over 900 initial coin offerings raising a combined $5.6 billion.
Bennett said his company's ICO will be available in the U.S. only to accredited investors for the initial four to six weeks of the sale.
For further information on Heroic and the company's token sale, visit tokensale.heroic.com.