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New reports suggest Cambridge Analytica was trying to develop their very own cryptocurrency and make it available in an Initial Coin Offering (ICO) last year. The formerly obscure big-data company has since become infamous due to their involvement with Facebook, the Trump campaign, and with severe abuses of consumer privacy.
Many companies are experimenting with cryptocurrencies as a business model and a way to differentiate themselves from the competition. Although the vast majority of these cryptocurrencies are variants of either Bitcoin or Ethereum, most come with some additional feature to make them "stand out."
In an interview with the New York Times, Brittany Kaiser, a former Cambridge Analytica employee, described the goals of the coin.
It would allow people to store their personal data online and then willingly sell it to advertisers. The theory is since social media companies like Facebook already have and sell your personal data, why not sell it yourself and profit.
Anonymous sources have reported that Cambridge Analytica was hoping to raise $30 million through an ICO, although they did not confirm this. Recently the SEC has begun scrutinizing ICOs given their explosion in popularity in recent months. While ICOs are not inherently bad, they have gained a poor reputation following their use countless scams.
Cambridge Analytica also told Reuters of previous explorations with blockchain technology, although this work appears to be on hold in light of recent events. The company had previously endorsed a coin linked to Chinese organized crime boss Wan Kuok-koi.