Alex Norta, the architect of the white paper for groundbreaking legal smart contract start-up Agrello, has cut ties with the company, just weeks after it became the world’s first legal start-up to launch an Initial Coin Offering (ICO).
The news comes as the price of Agrello’s ‘coin’, known as DELTA, which is designed to be used as a token to buy and sell smart contracts created via the Agrello platform is having a tough time. DELTA, as of this morning, (28 Sept), is down around 66% from its post-ICO peak on the 10 September. Its market cap as of today is also down to around $16m. At its post-ICO peak the company’s token had a market cap of $48m, even though the company is clearly still in a developmental phase.
Norta, who is an associate professor at the Tallinn University of Technology, played a key role in creating the company’s ‘white paper’, the prospectus that tech companies use to set out their business’s technical and economic case ahead of an ICO. He was also previously mentioned as the ‘Chief Scientist’ of Agrello. He is well known in the blockchain and smart contract community and is also an adviser to Cashaa, a P2P currency transfer blockchain company and Chief Scientist at the Qtum Foundation in Singapore.
However, in a surprising development Norta announced via a LinkedIn post this week that he was distancing himself from the pioneering legal tech company, just as it gets started.
In his statement he says, among other things: ‘I just also want to clarify here that I requested to be removed from the Agrello website…..I personally have no idea what goes on in Agrello and what their plans are.’
When asked about the departure by Artificial Lawyer, Agrello sent the following message via Twitter: ‘Alex has not been involved with Agrello since the white paper was finished. Agrello is working hard and everything in our roadmap is still on track.’
Meanwhile in a public statement, Agrello also declared that: ‘Professor Alex Norta has notified Agrello that he has removed himself from the Agrello project. We thank him for his contribution to the white paper. The Agrello project is now moving along as planned.’
‘We are actively expanding our team and adding great talent to our project. We are gearing up for our first product launch in October according to our road map. We are working on improving our communication with the public and we thank you for your strong support. We remain determined to deliver on our vision. Thank you for your continued support!’ the company added.
Artificial Lawyer reached out to Norta who confirmed his previous post’s message, though added he was hopeful Agrello would be able to address any concerns he had.
So, what does all this mean for the wider issue of legal tech companies launching ICOs? There’s a couple of observations that one can make. First, it seems that launching an ICO is a very time-demanding process with many technical and regulatory issues to overcome. That can get in the way of the main project, i.e. the start-up itself.
The second observation is that markets are unpredictable, especially digital currency markets. The DELTA token could just as easily zoom back up in value. Bitcoin has seen incredible swings up and down over its lifetime. The point here is that how can clients make use of a token when its value is changing so rapidly?
Hopefully whatever issues have arisen here will be resolved and Agrello will continue to grow as the company hopes to.