Polygon's MATIC Token Under SEC Spotlight: What Investors Need to Know

9 Jul 2024

SEC v. Consensys Software Inc. Court Filing, retrieved on June 28, 2024, is part of HackerNoon’s Legal PDF Series. You can jump to any part in this filing here. This part is 13 of 26.


142. “MATIC” is the native token of the Polygon blockchain. Polygon, originally called the Matic Network and rebranded as Polygon in 2021, is a blockchain platform created in 2017 in Mumbai, India by, among others, Jaynti Kanani, Sandeep Nailwal, and Anurag Arjun. Since its creation, Polygon’s founders have remained actively involved with Polygon through “Polygon Labs” (“Polygon”), an entity they also founded for “the development and growth of Polygon.”

143. According to the Polygon website, https://polygon.technology/, the Polygon network is an Ethereum scaling platform that enables developers to build scalable user-friendly dApps with low transaction fees, purportedly by hosting “sidechains” that run alongside the Ethereum blockchain, and allows users to process transactions and initiate the transfer of assets and technology development on Polygon’s supposedly less congested sidechain network.

144. Polygon issued a fixed supply of 10 billion MATIC tokens. MATIC holders can earn additional MATIC for staking their MATIC on the Polygon platform and becoming a validator, from delegating their MATIC to other validators in return for a portion of the fees collected from validating transactions, or from staking their MATIC with other third parties, such as crypto asset platforms that offer staking services.

145. According to the initial whitepaper for MATIC, “Matic Tokens [we]re expected to provide the economic incentives … on the Matic Network [now Polygon] … [W]ithout the Matic Token, there would be no incentive for users to expend resources to participate in activities or provide services for the benefit of the entire ecosystem on the Matic Network.”

146. In or around 2018, Polygon sold approximately 4 percent of the total supply of MATIC in two early rounds of sales raising $165,000 at a price of $0.00079 USD per 1 MATIC and $450,000 at a price of $0.00263 USD per 1 MATIC. In April 2019, Polygon sold another 19% of the total supply of MATIC to the public through a so-called “initial exchange offering” (or “IEO”— essentially, an initial offer and sale of a crypto asset security on a crypto trading platform) on the Binance.com crypto asset trading platform at a price of $0.00263 USD per 1 MATIC, raising an additional $5 million to fund development of the network.

147. From the time of its offering, MATIC was offered and sold as an investment contract and therefore a security.

148. The price of all MATIC tokens goes up or down together.

149. MATIC has been available for buying and selling through the brokerage services offered by MetaMask Swaps since at least July 2021.

150. The information Polygon publicly disseminated would lead a reasonable investor, including those who purchased MATIC since October 2020, to view MATIC as an investment. Specifically, MATIC holders would reasonably expect to profit from Polygon’s efforts to grow the Polygon protocol because this growth would in turn increase the demand for and the value of MATIC.

151. For example, Polygon stated publicly, including in the whitepaper, that it would pool investment proceeds through its private and public fundraising to develop and grow its business.

152. Following the IEO, moreover, Polygon engaged in additional MATIC sales, stating publicly that it was doing so in order to raise the funds needed to support the growth of its network. On February 7, 2022, Polygon reported on its blog that it raised about $450 million through a purportedly private sale of its native MATIC token in a funding round to several prominent venture capital firms. Polygon reported, “[w]ith this warchest, the core team can secure Polygon’s lead in paving the way for mass adoption of Web3 applications, a race that we believe will result in Ethereum prevailing over alternative blockchains.”

153. Polygon has also reported fundraising from other marquee and celebrity investors.

154. Polygon also stated that it would reserve roughly 67% of MATIC to support the Polygon ecosystem, the Foundation, and network operations. Another 20% of MATIC was further reserved to compensate the Polygon team members and advisors, aligning their fortunes with investors’ with respect to MATIC.

155. In addition, the Polygon blog provides frequent updates on network growth and developments at Polygon, including, prior to December 2022, weekly statistics on active wallets and transactions per day, as well as financial metrics such as revenue per day and total network revenue.

156. Polygon has also routinely announced when crypto asset trading platforms have made MATIC available for trading.

157. Polygon has explicitly encouraged MATIC purchasers to view MATIC as an investment in other ways. For example, in a February 5, 2021 tweet, 14 months after MATIC’s single biggest price drop, Nailwal compared the token to a prize fighter that came back from defeat to become a champion:

158. Also, on November 3, 2022, Nailwal stated on Twitter: “I will not rest till @0xPolygon gets its well-deserved ‘Top 3’ spot alongside BTC & ETH. No other project comes even close.” In a May 24, 2022 “Fireside Chat” with CNBC posted on YouTube, Bejelic described part of “what’s different about Polygon” as: “[w]e are as a team very, very committed, we have a very hands on approach with all the projects out there, we are working around the clock on adoption and that is why we are currently the most adopted scaling infrastructure platform.” Into 2023, the founders of Polygon continued to promote the platform through various social media. For example, on February 21, 2023, Nailwal tweeted, and Kanani retweeted, “Polygon has grown exponentially. To continue on this path of stupendous growth we have crystallized our strategy for the next 5 yrs to drive mass adoption of web3 by scaling Ethereum. Our treasury remains healthy with a balance of over $250 million and over 1.9 billion MATIC.”

159. Since January 2022, Polygon has also marketed that it “burns” MATIC tokens accumulated as fees, indicating that the total supply of MATIC would decrease. For example, in January 2022, Polygon emphatically announced a protocol upgrade that enabled burning in a blogpost titled, “Burn, MATIC, Burn!” As Polygon explained in another blog post on its website around the same time, “Polygon’s MATIC has a fixed supply of 10 billion, so any reduction in the number of available tokens will have a deflationary effect.” As of March 28, 2023, Polygon had burned approximately 9.6 million MATIC tokens. This marketed burning of MATIC as part of the Polygon’s network’s “deflationary effect” has led investors reasonably to view their purchase of MATIC as having the potential for profit to the extent there is a built-in mechanism to decrease the supply and therefore increase the price of MATIC.

160. In another white paper, Nailwal and others recently announced a revised Polygon protocol where a new token, POL, would succeed MATIC “as the native token of the Polygon ecosystem.” The white paper states that: “As the successor of MATIC, POL is envisioned to become an instrumental tool for coordination and growth of the Polygon ecosystem and the main driver of the vision of Polygon as the Value Layer for the Internet.”

161. The whitepaper lays out a model “to simulate important performance indicators of the POL-powered ecosystem.” The model estimates a $5 average POL price during the proposed 10-year period, a significant increase from the current price of MATIC.

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