ICO vs. IEO vs IDO: A Beginner’s Guide to Token Launches in the Web3 Era

Published on: 20.02.2024
ICO vs. IEO vs IDO: A Beginner's Guide to Token Launches in the Web3 Era

Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) used to be the industry standard for raising money in the crypto market. However, with the emergence of Initial Exchange Offerings (IEOs) and Initial DEX Offerings (IDOs), the landscape of token launches has changed. In this article, we will provide a beginner’s guide to token launches in the Web3 era, comparing ICOs, IEOs, and IDOs, and discussing the benefits and drawbacks of each.

ICO vs. IEO vs IDO – A Web3 Comparison

The mechanisms and processes powering ICOs, IEOs, and IDOs differ significantly, shaping the experience for both investors and project creators. 

ICOs operate through centralized platforms. Projects pre-sell tokens for established currencies like Bitcoin or Ethereum, attracting wider reach and potentially larger capital raises. However, this comes with a waiting game – tokens often list on exchanges weeks or months later, leaving investors in limbo. Think of it as a Kickstarter campaign where you pledge support upfront but receive the final product much later.

IEOs partner with established cryptocurrency exchanges. The exchange manages the entire token sale and lists the token immediately after purchase, offering investors instant liquidity and trading opportunities. However, only select projects pass the exchange’s vetting process, limiting access and potentially increasing fees. Imagine it as a prestigious auction house, guaranteeing legitimacy but with a curated selection of offerings.

IDOs take place directly on Decentralized Exchanges (DEXs). Tokens are sold through liquidity pools powered by smart contracts, allowing for immediate trading and community-driven price discovery. This fosters inclusivity and innovation, but requires investors to navigate unfamiliar DEX interfaces and trust the security of the smart contracts. Picture it as a bustling farmers market where tokens trade freely, but buyer beware – quality control is in your own hands.

The choice between these mechanisms depends on individual risk tolerance and project needs. ICOs offer larger reach but delayed liquidity, IEOs provide security and immediate listing but limited access, and IDOs promote inclusivity and innovation but demand greater due diligence. So, before diving in, understand the underlying mechanisms, assess your goals, and choose the launchpad that best fuels your journey into the Web3 frontier.

Security and Transparency in ICO vs. IEO vs IDO

In the Web3 fundraising arena, trust is paramount. But where do ICOs, IEOs, and IDOs stand on the security and transparency spectrum? Let’s dive in:

ICOs often operate in a regulatory gray area. KYC/AML checks might be present, but audits and due diligence are typically the responsibility of investors. This freedom can breed innovation, but also exposes participants to potential scams and rug pulls. Think of it as venturing into a bustling marketplace, vibrant but with hidden pitfalls.

IEOs offer a layer of security. KYC/AML checks are mandatory, and projects often undergo vetting by the exchange. This reduces the risk of scams, but also limits access to smaller, potentially innovative projects. Think of it as entering a high-end auction, where authenticity is guaranteed but the selection is curated.

IDOs relying on smart contracts and community trust. This fosters inclusivity and innovation, but also lacks inherent security measures. Rug pulls and scams are more prevalent, and code vulnerabilities can pose risks. Think of it as navigating a bustling street fair, where excitement abounds but vigilance is crucial.

Ultimately, the security landscape is a trade-off between access, control, and trust. ICOs offer freedom but demand extra due diligence. IEOs provide security but limit options. IDOs promote inclusivity but necessitate caution. Choose your launchpad wisely, remember caveat emptor, and prioritize transparency and community trust. In the Web3 wild west, knowledge is your shield, and vigilance is your weapon.

Evaluating Utility and Sustainability in ICO vs. IEO vs IDO

​In the Web3 arena, token utility, not hype, is the true star. Evaluating the long-term sustainability of token-driven projects becomes paramount, whether you’re an investor navigating ICOs, IEOs, or IDOs. Here’s how each launchpad shapes this crucial aspect:

ICOs can attract ambitious projects with innovative ideas, potentially leading to high-utility tokens. However, the focus on pre-sale fundraising often overshadows long-term viability. Tokenomic models built for quick cash grabs can unravel, leaving investors holding empty bags. 

IEOs favor projects with well-defined tokenomics and clear use cases. This provides a layer of assurance for investors, but can also stifle out-of-the-box thinking. Additionally, exchange fees can inflate costs and impact token distribution, potentially hindering long-term sustainability. 

IDOs empower diverse projects to emerge, fostering innovation and experimentation with token utilities. However, the lack of centralized oversight allows for unsustainable models and projects driven by speculative hype. Investors must meticulously analyze smart contracts and assess community engagement to discern genuine utility from fleeting trends. 

Evaluating utility and sustainability requires a critical eye regardless of the launchpad. Look beyond the surface – investigate tokenomics, understand project roadmaps, and engage with the community. Remember, true value lies in utility, not hype.

Successful Launches Across the Spectrum: ICO, IEO, and IDO Examples

Understanding the intricacies of token launches is crucial, but seeing real-world successes can further cement your understanding. Here are some examples of triumphant launches across each method:


  • Ethereum (ETH): The OG of successful ICOs, raising a staggering $18 million in 2014 (worth billions today) to fuel the development of smart contracts and the broader Ethereum ecosystem.
  • Filecoin (FIL): This decentralized storage network raised a record-breaking $257 million in 2020 through its ICO, showcasing the potential of blockchain-based data storage solutions.
  • Polkadot (DOT): Gathering $145 million in 2017, Polkadot’s ICO demonstrated the demand for interoperable blockchain networks capable of connecting different systems.


  • Binance Launchpad: This IEO incubator has birthed numerous successful projects, like Fetch.ai (FET) and Band Protocol (BAND). Their vetting process and exchange backing provide both projects and investors with confidence.
  • Huobi Prime: Another prominent IEO platform, Huobi Prime has seen successful launches for Chainlink (LINK) and The Sandbox (SAND), highlighting the potential of established exchanges to nurture promising innovations.
  • KuCoin Spotlight: This IEO platform is known for its stringent selection process and community-driven approach. Projects like Ocean Protocol (OCEAN) and Kyber Network (KNC) have seen significant success after launching through KuCoin Spotlight.


  • SushiSwap (SUSHI): This DeFi protocol launched on Uniswap in 2020, pioneering the IDO model and raising $2 million within minutes. The community-driven approach and immediate liquidity set the stage for future IDO successes.
  • Curve Finance (CRV): Another DeFi giant, Curve raised $6 million through its IDO on Yearn Finance, demonstrating the effectiveness of DEX-based launches for liquidity-heavy protocols.
  • Axie Infinity (AXS): This play-to-earn game achieved explosive growth after its IDO on Binance Launchpad, showcasing the potential of IDOs for gaming and metaverse projects.

The Future Landscape: Emerging Trends and Innovations in Token Launches

The future landscape of token launches is likely to see more innovative and sustainable projects, as well as the emergence of new fundraising methods. For example, Security Token Offerings (STOs) are becoming increasingly popular, as they offer greater regulatory compliance and investor protection than ICOs, IEOs, and IDOs.


In conclusion, ICOs, IEOs, and IDOs are different methods of raising funds in the crypto market, each with its own benefits and drawbacks. Choosing between ICOs, IEOs, and IDOs is a calculated dance between risk, reward, and trust. Each launchpad offers distinct advantages and challenges, catering to different needs within the vibrant tapestry of Web3. Understanding these nuances, navigating regulatory waters, and prioritizing utility over hype are the cornerstones of success in this dynamic frontier. Remember, the Web3 path to fortune often begins with the right launchpad. Choose wisely, research diligently, and embrace the spirit of innovation – for the future of fundraising is decentralized, disruptive, and driven by the power of community.

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