In 2018, the TON project was able not only to raise $ 1.7 billion and become the largest ICO of the year, but also to do so without wide publicity. The names of most investors are still unknown, and those that were able to find out were opened, rather, by a lucky chance. The SECvsTON litigation shed light on the company's affairs and re-sparked public interest.
So who are they, investors of Durov and will the SEC be able to break the veil of secrecy from this ICO?
- General Information and Toned Investlist
- Possible and confirmed investors
- SEC omniscient
- Will everything come up in the spring?
General Information and Toned Investlist
The first official information about TON investors is presented in SEC reports in form D. Durov filed two such reports:
- According to the results of the token pre-sale - $ 850 million of investments and 81 investors.
- According to the results of the second round of ICO - another $ 850 million and 94 investors.
Therefore, SEC did not have any information on investors (except for their number) in 2018.
In RuViki they write that in general, 94 people invested in TON, apparently the data was taken only from the second SEC report and at the same time operates with unverified data regarding Abramovich's investments. Therefore, you can close the Wiki page if you leaf through it now.
More recent data was released by the SEC when it filed a lawsuit in the New York District Court demanding that the TON launch be stopped urgently. To justify why the United States is getting into the start-up business (despite the fact that the company is an offshore company), the SEC found out that about 2.9 billion Grams were sold to 171 customers, including 39 from the USA. The latter fact justifies the jurisdiction of the SEC. But wait:
It seems that the answers to these questions are known only to the judge of the District Court of New York, who is conducting the case. But it should be noted that the Commission did a titanic detective work if it was able to contact almost all investors and even find out their residency.
Recall - the list of TON investors has never been published anywhere, so the data on the network (including this article) is collected bit by bit and cannot claim official status, with some exceptions.
Possible and confirmed investors
Immediately after the announcement of the ICO, the journalists of ru-publications began to actively seek out investors in the Russian Federation and foreign countries. The first list appeared only in February 2018 and it was published here. Do not click, we list below:
Yuri Milner, one of the founders of Mail.ru Group, has invested at least $ 20 million.
Sergey Solonin, the founder of Qiwi, invested $ 17 million.
David Yakobashvili - founder of Wimm-Bill-Dann - $ 10 million
Arkady Abramovich (son of the same one) - helped TON for another $ 7 million.
Alisher Usmanov - founder of USM Holding - another $ 7 million
Mikhail Fridman - Chairman of the Board, Alfa Group $ 5 million
Of these, Sergey Solonin and David Yakobashvili officially confirmed their contributions. Crypto-media also published an interview with Alexei Kiriyenko, managing partner of fintech company EXANTE. He also confirmed his participation in the ICO, however, he did not name the amount of the contribution.
On February 21, the TMT Investment fund (one of the founders - German Kaplun) confirmed the investment by writing about it on its Facebook:
Before this, online publications also actively post that Roman Abramovich invested $ 300 million in Durov's cryptocurrency, but the official representative of the businessman later denied the information. Therefore, Abramovich can be called the most famous TON non-investor. Alisher Usmanov also denies his participation.
But what about other countries? Even before the start of the ICO, the intention to participate in it was publicly expressed by the Benchmark, Sequoia Capital and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers funds, which already invested in tech giants like Google. Financial adviser Zhukovsky, in his commentary for BFM, also indicates that famous musicians and actors have invested in TON. And an anonymous investor in an interview for VC indicated that there are many small investors who bought tokens through investment funds. But not a single specific surname or name.
The US Securities Commission not only secured the suspension of the TON launch, but also shed a lot of light on the dark waters of the project’s investments. At the end of June, a report was published on the SEC website that revealed the first foreign investor - The9 Ltd. This is a Chinese game developer and distributor who bought GRAM for $ 2 million.
But the main achievement of the SEC is the disclosure of correspondence of John Hyman (TON's chief financial adviser). In early December 2019, the Commission requested the District Court of New York to petition the British High Court to bring Hyman to testify. The basis of the petition was just the correspondence with investors, indicating that Hyman could know more than he says.
The publication of correspondence on December 9 was written in CoinDesk. Ru-sources quickly relayed the news indicating that the correspondence was published on the SEC website, some foreign publications also speak about this. We did not manage to find in the Commission’s publications for the indicated period a document with Hyman’s correspondence, but on December 5, the SEC posted the same petition to the High Court.
The link to the document provided by CoinDesk and other media is here, it leads to the website of the New York court and in order to access the file you need to log in. The problem is that only US residents can use the court’s electronic database, so we can post this screenshot of the excerpt:
Here are the names of a number of contributors, among which:
Matt Mullenweg is the creator of Wordpress.
Naveen Selvadurai - Foursquare.
Jeremy Stoppelman is Director of Yelp.
Om Malik is a partner of True Ventures.
Lee Linden is the founder of Karma.
Silas Chow is a billionaire from Hong Kong.
However, Selvadurai and Malik later refuted CoinDesk their participation in TON.
These people did not invest directly in TON, but through a California fund managed by Elysium Ventures. Elysium in total replenished the startup budget with $ 12 million. The deposits of other institutional investors were confirmed:
Kleiner Perkins - Bought $ 30 Million GRAM
Lightspeed China (Lightspeed Ventures branch) - invested $ 25 million.
FBG Capital - another $ 10 million
In another chat, to the question "where are the investments coming from," Hyman replied:
"Big Russia, CIS bid, quite a lot in Israel and Pavel fan club."
Will everything come up in the spring?
The lawsuits between the SEC and TON have revealed more information about investors than journalists over the past year, but the process is ongoing and new details may be coming soon.
On January 9, the SEC requested from Telegram Group Inc and TON Issuer Inc a full report on banking transactions and cash outflows. This could reveal the sources of investments, but the lawyer indicated that the report contains data on non-US citizens and subject to the law on protection of confidentiality of foreign investors.
In view of this observation, on January 14, the Court issued a new decision in which TON ordered disclosure of banking operations data until February 26, but made it possible to edit them to preserve confidential information. The data should show where Durov spent the raised funds, as the SEC wanted, but it is not known whether they will reveal the origin of the funds. We hope that the Court will receive at least information on investors from the United States.
We can only wait for the report of TON lawyers, or the moment until the “insiders” drop out a full list of investors on the Internet media in order to foster interest in the project or receive an award.