Civil Media’s ambitious plans for journalism suffered a big setback this week.
The blockchain company announced Tuesday that it failed to reach an $8 million cryptocurrency funding goal. The tokens sold through the sale were supposed to be used to create the foundation of an economy that would have powered the company’s model for journalism.
“We’re disappointed, but we’re as committed as ever to seeing Civil out in the world,” Civil CEO Matthew Iles wrote on Civil’s blog Tuesday.
Civil wants its tokens to be a way for readers and patrons to have a bigger stake in the news websites that the company features as its partners. All participants are bound by a journalistic code of ethics, and the tokens are a form of leverage for the community to challenge any content they think runs afoul of that code. Civil also intends for tokens to be used to tip journalists.
Civil didn’t say how much it sold in tokens when the month-long sale ended Monday, but initial numbers released last Wednesday didn’t look good. At the time, Civil said that nearly 700 people had purchased about $1.3 million worth of tokens. More than 1,500 people had committed to buy another $800,000, but those purchases had not yet been completed last week.
The company said it is not giving up. Iles added that a “new, much simpler token sale” is in the works. And while the people who bought tokens during the last sale are entitled to a refund, Iles added that they will also be given an option to opt in to the new sale. They can also ask immediately for a refund, or will otherwise be automatically refunded at the end of the month.
It was not immediately clear when the new sale would start. Iles said the company would share details “soon.”
Civil also says it has enough money to stay operational. A blockchain software business called ConsenSys has given the company $3.5 million, which Civil says will fund existing grants to the 14 newsrooms that are participating right now. That money will also go toward overhead.
The newsrooms that are partnering with Civil are already coming up with their own sources of revenue. Some solicit donations, while others require paid subscriptions to view content.
Iles said that future proceeds from the new sale would go to its foundation, the entity that puts together grants for newsrooms.