One of China's biggest bitcoin investors has raised approximately $82m in an initial coin offering (ICO), setting a new record for the novel fundraising method in China.
But while the figures may be impressive, the final numbers represented less than half the project's initial target of $200m – in part due to a decline in prices across the global cryptocurrency markets.
Since the the ICO began, the prices of bitcoin, ether and EOS have fallen 18 percent, 26 percent, and 46 percent, respectively, shrinking the total market value of the project by an estimated $52m.
However, it may not be the decline in prices that was the only factor in the missed target. Skeptics of the ICO have publicly argued that the project is too ambiguous and ambitious, with some also claiming that the project lacks a white paper to explain its technical details and offers limited information on the development team.
Users of social platforms including 8BTC, Weibo, WeChat and Steemit further expressed concerns over the way the ICO was managed and its legality.
Based on the Press.One website, the purpose of the ICO is to build a public blockchain based on EOS. Other than traditional media, potential competitors to Press.One include content distribution site Steemit, which helps content creators receive rewards for their work and is based on similar technology to EOS.
Besides Li, who serves as CEO, the project lists Li Lu as chief technology officer. The two previously partnered to launch a website named Knewone, which became Less, a lifestyle community sharing application.
Another unusual characteristic of the Press.one project is the distribution of 10 billion tokens, dubbed PRS, which will only be dispersed to contributors six months after the ICO. Temporarily, though, the tokens are scheduled to be tradable on July 12, 2018.
Teacher turned tycoon
The other side of the story is Li's growing popularity as a successful and what some portray as inspiring investor.
Born in the 1970s, Li started a career as a salesman and became a well-known English teacher in China. Prior to the emergence of bitcoin, Li had already made a name for himself by publishing two bestselling books about time management and methods in mastering vocabularies for English tests.
After founding the Bitfund venture capital firm in 2013, Li also established Yunbi, a cryptocurrency exchange based in China. According to Coinmarketcap, that exchange is now the 7th largest in the world by trading volume.
Currently, Yunbi trades ICO tokens and cryptocurrencies, including several backed by Li, such as EOS, Qtum, Siacoin, the latter of which has just received $400,000 from INBlockchain, another capital fund launched by Li.
Li Xiaolai image via CoinDesk archives
The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is an award-winning media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. In November 2023, CoinDesk was acquired by Bullish group, owner of Bullish, a regulated, institutional digital assets exchange. Bullish group is majority owned by Block.one; both groups have interests in a variety of blockchain and digital asset businesses and significant holdings of digital assets, including bitcoin. CoinDesk operates as an independent subsidiary, and an editorial committee, chaired by a former editor-in-chief of The Wall Street Journal, is being formed to support journalistic integrity.