In the trendy world of cryptocurrencies, the greatest levels of hype and anticipation have often been reserved for initial coin offerings (ICOs), the crowdsourced fundraising sales used to launch new tokens, coins, and services. ICOs have come to be seen as a significant risk for the everyday investor.

They are both highly speculative—since few ICOs actually go on to see the tokens they launch meet with real success—and many ICOs are actually fraudulent. Nonetheless, investors continue to watch the ICO space closely for the next big opportunity. Perhaps they would do well to look for those ICOs that come closest in design to the most successful ICOs. Below, we’ll explore some of the biggest ICO events in history.

NEO

NEO (NEO) is a Chinese open-source blockchain project that has gone by several different names in its short history. One of the most common is not an official name, however, but rather a nickname—China’s Ethereum. NEO gained this distinction by utilizing smart contract applications and decentralized commerce.

The company had a massive ICO thanks in no small part to support from the Chinese government, Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), and other major companies. From an initial token price of just over 3 cents to an all-time high price of roughly $180, NEO investors who timed their investments right stood to make an incredible amount of money. The ICO raised $4 billion in 2018 before launching a product. As of April 15, 2021, NEO traded at just under $71.

Ethereum

Ethereum remains the second-largest digital currency by market cap as of April 2021. While Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency, Ethereum is both a digital currency and the foundation for decentralized applications that make use of smart contracts.

Ether tokens sold for $0.31 each, and the token now sits just under $2,470 as of April 2021, providing a hefty return on investment (ROI) for those lucky investors who bought in during the ICO.

Alias

Alias, formerly known as Spectrecoin, launched in November 2016 as a “privacy-focused cryptocurrency.” One of the features of the coin is that it can be sent and received around the world with complete anonymity.

Alias pushes the boundaries of what governments around the world are willing to tolerate from digital currencies, but it has not yet broken through to the mainstream. Nonetheless, an investment of $0.001 per token back in late 2016 during the ICO would be worth close to $0.17 as of April 15, 2021, marking a significant gain.

Stratis

Stratis is another cryptocurrency that has not yet made it big into the world of leading digital currencies. The company, based in the U.K., prides itself on having a platform that is compatible with various programming languages, allowing businesses the ability to create and design custom applications easily.

Microsoft (MSFT) was a prominent supporter of the Stratis ICO, and that led to major success. The project raised nearly 1,000 BTC over a period of five weeks, and individuals paid just $0.01 per token. On April 15, 2021, the cryptocurrency trades for $2.51.

Ark

Ark is designed to be as efficient as possible. The digital currency platform allows for the quick integration of other cryptocurrencies into its own blockchain. With a global focus and a commitment to decentralization, Ark seems to have been destined for success.

The initial token price was $0.04 during the ICO. At its highest levels, one Ark token climbed to nearly $11, but today trades at $2.59, as of April 15, 2021.

NXT

In 2013, a developer known by the handle "BCNext" launched NXT. This was one of the earliest ICOs, and it was also one of the very most successful. NXT was designed as a blockchain platform catering to the financial services sector.

With tokens selling for just $0.0000168, the NXT development team managed to earn about $16,800 worth of bitcoin at the time of the ICO. This money was focused on developing the currency associated with the platform. At their peak, NXT tokens reached as high as $2.15 each. As of March 2021, NXT traded at just below $0.09, however.

One notable aspect of many of the above ICOs is that the tokens themselves are not particularly well known today. Because the cryptocurrency boom has been largely unpredictable, with prices rising and falling dramatically and at the slightest provocation, it can be incredibly difficult to time the sale of such tokens.

Perhaps even trickier for the budding digital currency investor, though, is identifying which potential new ICOs on the horizon could yield results with the same degree of success as the projects above.