According to a report submitted to the SEC on March 29, the Telegram ICO attracted another $850 million from 94 investors in the second closed round, after which the total amount of investments in the project was $1.7 billion. At the same time, the media already reported that Telegram plans to refuse to hold a public round, as it has the opportunity to raise the required amount within the private token sale. The application published by the SEC also indicates that the company reserves the right to further issue "one or more" coin offerings (according to rumors, the project expects to raise a total of $2.25 billion).
Meanwhile, on April 13, during the court hearing in the Roskomnadzor Telegram case, the Tagansky Court of Moscow decided to block the messenger on the territory of the Russian Federation after Pavel Durov refused several times to hand over the keys to the FSB, which would allow them to decrypt user messages. "The restriction on access to information will be valid until the requirements of the FSB for providing the keys for decryption of messages from the messenger's users are fulfilled," stated Judge Yulia Smolina. The lawyers of the international association "Agora" representing Telegram intend to appeal against the ban. Tass was informed of this by the head of the information department of "Agora" Dmitry Kolbasin (according to the decision of Pavel Durov, the representatives of Telegram were not present at the court "not to legitimize the outright farce"). "Privacy is not for sale, and human rights should not be compromised out of fear or greed . . . In Telegram, we can afford not to care about revenue and sales of advertising," Durov said on Twitter with reference to his own channel in Telegram.
According to experts, the court’s decision will not have a significant impact on either the Telegram ecosystem or the ICOs. "In Russia, there are about 7 million active Telegram users out of 200 million worldwide, which shows a loss of 3.5% of users. Some of these users will continue to use the messenger using VPN and proxy, which was even announced by the deputy head of the Ministry of Communications," said Vadim Merkulov, a senior analyst of the publishing house Freedom Finance. In his opinion, the forced blocking will not result in bad PR for Telegram, but rather will have the opposite effect. "Fortunately for the messenger, the position of Pavel Durov almost always differed with the interests of the government of the Russian Federation, which in principle became the primary reason for the creation of Telegram. As a result, no matter how you look at it, the brainchild of Pavel Durov is protected from legal actions by Russian law enforcement agencies, which only strengthens the faith of investors," Merkulov said. According to Interfax, on Friday, after the court decision, Telegram became the most popular free application in App Store, and according to Megafon, the activity of Telegram users at the same time increased by 20%. According to the forecast of the analyst of"MK", the market effect of the blocking for Telegram itself will amount to no more than 2.5% of possible financial losses.
As for investments in TON, then, given that Telegram reports to the SEC, "it is highly unlikely that litigation in Russia will at least somehow affect the ICO," said the analyst of the trading platform eToro Mikhail Mashchenko. Simultaneously, the representative of the consulting company Expert Plus Maria Salnikova notes that investors may face problems if the sanctions are expanded and start providing additional restrictions on cooperation with Russian investors. This fact, however, is unlikely to pose a risk to Telegram itself; rather, it even corresponds to a policy that, according to unofficial information, was announced in an agreement with investors. The project presents extremely high demands for ICO participants from a minimum investment of $20 million and mandatory recognition as a businessman on the international arena to the refusal to sell tokens to persons who have fallen into any sanctions lists of the United States, Britain, the EU, and the UN Security Council, and their relatives. The agreement also states that it is prohibited to use tokens to infringe sanctions and money laundering. Although the list of TON investors is not disclosed, the media with reference to insiders report that Bill Gates, Roman Abramovich, Richard Branson, Qiwi co-founder Sergey Solonin, and co-founder of Wimm Bill Dann David Iakobashvili all managed to correspond to the stated requirements. Other investors include the co-founder of Mail.Ru Group Yuri Milner, Vitalik Buterin, and a number of large funds from the Silicon Valley.
It is hard not to agree that in the aftermath of the trial, the decisions that should be implemented in TON became even more urgent, and Telegram itself was tested for strength, thereby only bolstering its reputation. In this sense, though unfortunate for many users (and also for the company itself), a court can become a generous contributor to the company's advertising campaign. "To stand up to a state actor on an issue of encryption is the right tone to set if you are going to issue your own coin. If Telegram gave FSB the keys, the investment case in their coin would be greatly weakened," said Nolan Bauerle, head of research at CoinDesk.
TON is ideologically connected with Telegram in terms of privacy. The messenger protects end to end encryption of users' correspondence, whereas TON is designed to help avoid government control and finance, as the money can be transferred directly to the messenger. Technically, this idea is implemented in several base products of the platform. The TON Proxy, or the proxy layer of the TON network, is responsible for anonymity, which will hide the identity and IP addresses of the TON nodes. "As in the 'Invisible Internet Project (I2P),' this level can be used to create decentralized VPN services and TOR alternatives based on blockchain. Together with the TON P2P Network and TON DNS, the TON Proxy can make any service, including Telegram, resistant to censorship," says the white paper of the project. According to the description, TON is a "multi blockchain," and it provides complex protocols that can be used multiple times and in various variations to increase the flexibility of the platform. One of these protocols is the TON P2P Network, which allows access to TON's blockchains.
Another key service is the TON DNS, a system of domain names that assigns accounts, smart contracts, services and nodes to easy to read names and provides access to decentralized services based on the principle of access to sites on the World Wide Web. TON Storage is a decentralized file storage, which is also accessed through the TON P2P Network using smart contracts (according to the white paper, the technology is somewhat similar to the principle of access to torrent files). At the same time, the capabilities of TON Storage are much wider than the "decentralized Dropbox," as it is also designed for decentralized applications with a large amount of data comparable to Youtube and Telegram. TON Services is a platform for third-party services that provides an intuitive interface for decentralized applications and smart contracts. TON Payments is a micropayment platform and a network of micropayment channels, which will allow for instant off chain transactions between users, bots and other services. The listed components, according to the white paper, will be released after the release of the TON Core blockchain and will increase the potential of scenarios for using the TON infrastructure.
In this case, the Telegram ICO is a "simple agreement for future tokens" (SAFT), according to which investors purchase not the tokens themselves, but the right to receive them after the readiness of TON. So, each purchased investment contract must be converted into an internal platform Gram token at a ratio of 1 to 1 after the launch of TON, which, according to the project's roadmap, will be held in the fourth quarter of 2018. In the same time interval, a "light wallet," integrated into Telegram, promises to appear that will allow storing the cryptocurrency without loading a cumbersome blockchain, and paying for services and applications running on the basis of TON. Thanks to speed, anonymity, and convenience, TON plans to bypass not only Bitcoin and Ethereum but also traditional payment systems Visa and Mastercard, making Gram the main means of payment. "Someone like Telegram or WhatsApp is needed to bring crypto into the mainstream," said Iqbal Gandham, Managing Director of eToro, also stressing that the entire crypto audience is already concentrated in Telegram, and noting the "amazing technical side of the project" and the background of the founders. "I think the entire world might invest if they could," Gandham said.
Today's decentralization of Internet services is a kind of "back to nature," a return to the sources and the original idea of the Internet as a decentralized force that transfers power to the people. The possibility of circumvention of censorship here is rather a byproduct, whereas the main goal of blockchain platforms is the normalization of relations between users and the ecosystem through the elimination of intermediaries be it search engines, advertising platforms or traditional social media providers. In any sector where decentralization touches down, it is implemented according to a similar principle. By using tokens, the user can control his expenses by acquiring only those products and services that he needs, to control access to personal information and to share it at his own discretion (and not according to the rules established by the user agreement of the company), and also to carry out activities aimed at the creation of a content, the goods and services legally, without sharing the income with advertising and other intermediary services.
Examples of the "new generation" of social media are platforms such as Golos (Voice) and Synereo that reward users for content and simultaneously, with the help of a rating system, ensure the quality of the materials and do not allow the appearance of fake news. Such a system can later be implemented on any sites. "With the flourishing of blockchain, social and economic interaction improves and becomes more democratic as we move from the internet of information to the internet of values," said Derin Kag, founder of the information portal Richtopia. A whole line of applications that can be used in different areas of business, providing maximum safety for the buyer and seller was recently introduced by the Blockstram development team within the "week of Lightning-based applications." "LApps completely change the distribution of power for the creators of internet content. Previously, they depended on advertising revenue and were forced to work with advertising platforms. FileBazaar (and other new LApps) allow content creators to independently run their online business," the developers state.
At the same time, as recent events at the international level show, such as the CLOUD Act and the scandal with Cambridge Analytica, which used the data of 50 million Facebook users for political advertising purposes, the interests of users differ from the interests of centralized corporations not only from the economic point of view, but also on political and, possibly, ethical points. It is this "Bermuda Triangle" that the rescue helicopter of decentralization is rushing towards.