Initial coin offerings: Linking technology and financialization

Matthew Zook, Michael H. Grote

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


This paper elaborates on the interactions between digital technologies and financial practices and how they contribute to the ongoing process of financialization. We focus on the circumstances of blockchain-based token offerings and their contribution to reshaping existing systems of investment in startups. We show how future clients become investors via the initial coin offering (ICO) process. The paper is based on interviews with blockchain and industry practitioners during 2018 and 2019 and focuses on an in-depth case study of a specific ICO in early 2018. We suggest a framework consisting of catalysts, cracks and voids to analyze the financialization process and to inform theories of how financialization advances through the new spaces afforded by socially constructed technologies upon which entrepreneurs capitalize. With this framework we provide a better understanding of the mechanics behind financialization, particularly the ways in which business processes, and larger social relations such as the role of investors and clients, are reimagined and reworked.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1560-1582
Number of pages23
JournalEnvironment and Planning A
Issue number8
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2020.


  • Blockchain
  • cryptocurrencies
  • financialization
  • initial coin offering
  • savedroid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)


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