0x (zero-ex) is an open source, permissionless protocol for trading ERC20 tokens on the Ethereum blockchain. 0x protocol is a pluggable building block for dApps that require exchange functionality. The exchange is executed via smart contracts. One can trade directly with a known counterparty for free or pay a relayer some ZRX tokens to access their liquidity pool.
0x started the ICO on 8/15 and sold 80% of the ZRX tokens in one day's time. The ICO was designed in a way to ensure that the broad pool of investors has access to the tokens. Those willing to participate were required to provide their Ethereum address in advance. For the first day, the investment size was limited to approximately $1,800 per address. One had the option to extend it on the second stage of the ICO. In total, the company attracted about 12,000 investors and raised $24,000,000.
There was no pre-ICO. The company, however, had received financing from various widely-known venture capital funds beforehand. Among them were Polychain Capital, Blockchain Capital, Pantera Capital, and noted Chinese investment companies Jen Advisors and FBG Capital. The exact sum is not disclosed.
So far, the team has developed the following products:
—0x Portal, a decentralized browser application that facilitates the trustless trading of Ethereum-based ERC20 tokens between known counterparties. Its goal is to become an ideal platform for keeping, trading, and analyzing ERC20 tokens.
—0x Wiki, a website section for the community members eager to offer their ideas or get the latest news.
—0x standard relayer API, a means of integration with other products.
0x is constantly working on their improvement.
I'd like to stress the fact that 0x is not an application, but a protocol. It's vital to persuade others to build their projects upon your product. 0x has a lot of supporters, including Aragon (in which I invested the previous week) and Ethfinex (a decentralized ERC20 exchange by Bitfinex).
At the moment, the team consists of eight members—two co-founders, three engineers, a director of operations, a designer, and a dev relations manager. You could follow the link above to get a more in-depth insight into the organization's structure.
The co-founder and CTO Amir Bandeali has experience in finance and trading. Will Warren, who's the co-founder and CEO, worked in mechanical engineering and applied physics. According to the official website, both of them previously engaged in smart contract R&D.
Main rivals are both centralized and decentralized exchanges. Unlike centralized exchanges, those built upon 0x won't have the one-stop center to control funds. They can't be hijacked like Mt Gox and have their data servers seized like BTC-e.
Speaking of decentralized exchanges, the competition here is rather fierce, too. There are such companies as Oasis DEX and Ether Delta in the market. But by transporting orders off-chain, 0x enables its users to save costs and time significantly. Hence, it's far ahead of existing DEX projects.
There are many Ethereum-based ICOs these days. With the growing number of ICOs, the need to exchange such assets will grow as well. 0x Protocol will be the most crucial part of the infrastructure, allowing for ERC20 tokens to be traded easily, using smart contracts.