The blockchain ‘name game’ is just getting started — and it echoes dot-com mania

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Long Island Iced Tea

  • The number of public companies adding “blockchain” to their name, or announcing a pivot to blockchain technologies, will surge in 2018, says Autonomous Research.
  • The firm’s forecast is based on a comparison to the dot-com bubble, which saw a similar phenomenon as companies tried to ride the Internet wave.

You’d think an iced tea manufacturer adding “blockchain” to its name would mark the absolute apex of companies rebranding to ride surging interest in cryptocurrencies.

That’s not the case, says one research firm, which sees the trend only just getting started.

There will be more than 100 instances of companies changing their titles in 2018, up from 31 in 2017, according to an analysis conducted by Autonomous Research. The firm’s forecast is based on the similarly overwhelming number of corporate name changes seen during the dot-com bubble, when a large number of companies were trying to ride the Internet wave to quick stock gains.

In turn, Autonomous’ findings are based on a 2002 academic study that looked at so-called dot-com “name gaming” and found that 126 companies altered their titles in 1999, a massive increase over just 13 in 1998. The chart below reflects that explosion of name changes in year T+1, or 1999.

Screen Shot 2018 01 04 at 11.03.07 AM

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Autonomous Research US LP

You’ll note, however, that the number of dot-com-branded companies dropped by roughly 30 just two years later – something that should give bitcoin bandwagoners pause. According to the 2002 report, the tech bubble “bust period” weeded out the true Internet companies, so it’s entirely possible that some alleged blockchain corporations will find themselves back-tracking in due time.

But with that potential reckoning far in the future, investors with exposure to these stocks have made a killing. In 2017, newly-branded blockchain companies surged 265%, dwarfing the 118% windfall seen from dot-com enthusiasts nearly two decades ago.

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