Cambridge Analytica, the company behind Facebook’s huge data scandal, attempted to develop its own cryptocurrency earlier this year and intended to raise funds through an initial coin offering, Reuters and The New York Times have reported. This digital coin would have helped people store online personal data and even sell it.
The data of 87 million Facebook users was obtained by Cambridge Analytica, who were hoping to raise an eye-watering $30 million through the venture. The company confirmed to Reuters that it had previously explored blockchain technology but did not confirm the coin offering nor say whether efforts are still underway.
The company also reportedly attempted to promote another digital currency behind the scenes. There was an arrangement for potential investors to take a trip to Macau in support of Dragon Coin, a cryptocurrency that’s aimed at casino players. According to documents obtained by The Times, Dragon Coin is supported by Macau gangster Wan Kuok-koi (nicknamed Broken Tooth).
Cambridge Analytica began work on its own initial coin offering mid-2017, an initiative overseen in part by CEO Alexander Nix and former employee Brittany Kaiser. The company’s plans to launch an ICO were supposedly still in the early stages when Nix was suspended last month and the Facebook scandal started to gain attention.
ICO’s can be a dubious way to obtain money, even sometimes rivaling early stage venture capital funding for some companies. Kodak and Telegram, for example, have reaped rewards. They may have emerged as a new way for companies to gain funding but they’re now firmly under the SEC’s eye as securities that need to be regulated.
Cambridge Analytica is now under scrutiny for two questionable parts of the internet: cryptocurrency and personal data.