Three years ago, Augur, a prediction market system that runs on the ethereum blockchain, held one of the first initial coin offerings (ICOs), long before the funding mechanism gained mainstream momentum.
Between August 7 and September 5, 2015, the project issued 8.8 million reputation (REP) tokens from a maximum circulating supply of 11 million tokens, each priced below $0.60, to raise over $5 million for the project.
Supported by only a handful of team members, Augur devised a decentralized protocol where outcomes of events could be forecasted in a trustless, peer-to-peer manner and rewarded for accuracy with the financial incentive of a native cryptocurrency: in other words, betting, but without the worry of platform providers or government bureaucrats taking control.
Three years after the ICO, reputation tokens have traded as high as $100 per REP, meaning ICO participants have potentially profited up to 200 times on their principal investments. Meanwhile, Augur has matured into a staff of 15 developers, designers and researchers, collaborating with the award-winning IDEO design group to roll out its beta product interface. Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin and Lightning Labs co-founder Elizabeth Stark have also joined on as advisors. Augur's main network is now expected to launch in July 2018 in what industry veterans have hailed as one of the more compelling use cases for blockchain.
Practically invisible in the midst of the public attention has been a watchful early project member — an absence he claims has been orchestrated as part of a larger conspiracy.
In a civil lawsuit, Matthew Liston, 26, has taken four Augur associates to court, alleging that angel investor Joseph Ball "Joe" Costello, 64, and three other founding members, Jack "John" Peterson, 35, Joseph Charles "Joey" Krug, 22, and Jeremy Gardner, 26, committed fraud, breach of contract, and trade theft in connection with conflicts that arose out of Liston's termination from the company and his stake in Augur's token distribution, leaving him empty-handed.
The lawsuit also includes accusations that after his dismissal Liston was coerced into signing a settlement agreement containing terms Peterson appears to have recently broken. Specifically, Liston says that the Augur team reneged on a promise to acknowledge him as a co-founder, preventing him from earning the same professional recognition among industry peers.