SEC Challenges SAND Token's Security Status

10 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 16 of 26.


196. “SAND” was created on the Ethereum blockchain as the native token of the Sandbox platform, a virtual gaming platform first released in 2012 by Pixowl, Inc. (“Pixowl”) as a game for download on mobile phones. Pixowl, which is headquartered in San Francisco, was founded in 2011 by Arthur Madrid (“Madrid”) and Sebastien Borget (“Borget”). In 2018, Animoca Brands, Inc. (“Animoca”), headquartered in Hong Kong, acquired Pixowl and announced its intention to build a new 3D version of the Sandbox by leveraging blockchain technology. After Pixowl’s acquisition, the Sandbox’s intellectual property, along with the rest of Pixowl’s assets, were transferred to TSB Gaming Ltd (“TSB”), a wholly owned subsidiary of Animoca. Madrid is CEO of TSB, and Borget is the COO.

197. According to Sandbox’s website, SAND is required to access the Sandbox platform, participate in the platform’s governance, and earn rewards through the staking program on the platform.

198. On or about May 23, 2019, before the minting of SAND in July 2019, Animoca raised approximately $2.5 million in cash and crypto assets through TSB via the issuance of Simple Agreements for Future Equity (“SAFEs”) and SAND tokens, to “fund the development of the upcoming blockchain version of The Sandbox.” According to Animoca’s May 23, 2019 press release, the majority of investors allocated their investment to the purchase of both SAND tokens and future equity in TSB via the SAFE agreements (in the amount of $2 million), while some investors allocated their investment exclusively to the purchase of SAND tokens ($500,000). Per the release, the funding round was led by Hashed, for approximately $1 million, and also included a number of other crypto venture capital investors.

199. TSB then minted a total supply of 3 billion SAND on the Ethereum blockchain in or around July 2019 and offered and sold SAND through purportedly private sales and in an IEO that raised $3 million on the crypto asset trading platform starting August 13, 2020.

200. SAND has been available for buying and selling through the MetaMask Swaps platform since approximately October 2020.

201. The information TSB publicly disseminated has led SAND holders, including those who have purchased SAND since May 2022, reasonably to view SAND as an investment in and to expect to profit from TSB’s efforts to grow the Sandbox protocol, which, in turn, would increase the demand for and the value of SAND.

202. On its blog posts announcing “exchange listings,” Sandbox touted its efforts to obtain “listings” and the SAND token’s liquidity in the secondary market. For example, in a September 21, 2021, Medium blog post, Sandbox stated that “$SAND is listed on over 60 global cryptocurrency exchanges, including a dozen of the top exchanges by market capitalization.”

203. In addition, the Sandbox stated that it would pool the proceeds from the private token sales and the IEO to develop and promote use of the platform. For example, the May 23, 2019, press release stated: “[t]he funds raised through this transaction will be used to grow the development team and infrastructure for the [Sandbox] Game Platform, support marketing efforts through the acquisition of creators and IP licenses, and provide for security, legal, and compliance expenses as well as general and administrative costs.” The Sandbox whitepaper similarly described identical uses for the $3 million in funds intended to be raised during the IEO.

204. Moreover, according to the Sandbox whitepaper, of the 3 billion SAND tokens that were initially minted, 19% were to be allocated to the Sandbox founders and team, and another 25.8% were to be allocated to the Company Reserve.

205. In addition, the Sandbox’s Medium blog post on July 25, 2019, stated that “an interesting feature of [the $SAND] token is that it can accrue in value over time, due to the fact that it is scarce. There will be a limited supply of 3 billion units of $SAND available.”

206. Moreover, TSB stated publicly that it would take steps to manage the market for SAND, including the SAND whitepaper stating that the Sandbox team controls the supply of SAND tokens and has implemented a “controllable supply mechanism, such as purchasing SAND from multiple exchanges,” and that “while the total supply of SAND is fixed, the initial amount of SAND offered will provide a scarcity effect reducing the SAND available per capita and therefore fostering demand.”

207. Additionally, in many instances, Animoca has touted the backgrounds of Pixowl, TSB, and the Sandbox core members, including Madrid and Borget, in describing the success and future development of the Sandbox:

• After the acquisition of Pixowl, Yat Siu, the co-founder and director of Animoca, stated in a press release, dated August 27, 2018 (the “2018 Press Release”) that “Pixowl’s experienced developers will significantly increase our development capabilities. Its founders are highly respected game industry veterans who have developed multimillion dollar franchises. We believe the blockchain version of The Sandbox has incredible potential … We look forward to utilising the many opportunities for growth conferred by this acquisition.”

• In the 2018 Press Release, Madrid also commented: ‘“Animoca Brands is a perfect fit for Pixowl and we are happy to add our brand relationships to its portfolio while accelerating growth for our key IP, The Sandbox …”

• The 2018 Press Release also touted that “Ed Fries, the creator of Microsoft Game Studios and co-founder of the Xbox project, is a special advisor to The Sandbox’s original game developer Pixowl” and will therefore continue to serve on the advisory team.

• The Sandbox whitepaper further provided: “We have a strong product roadmap ahead and a top team to execute a strong vision to build a unique virtual world gaming platform where players can build, own, and monetize their gaming experiences and spread the power of blockchain as the lead technology in the gaming industry.”

208. Moreover, the Sandbox whitepaper describes that the role of the “Sandbox Foundation” is to support the ecosystem of the Sandbox by, among other things, offering grants to incentivize high quality content and game production on the platform and further notes that the “overall valuation of the metaverse grows through the valuation of all games funded by the Foundation, creating a virtuous circle to enable funding bigger games.” The Sandbox’s Gitbook also notes that the Sandbox Foundation has, among other things, (a) supported play-to-earn tournaments and cross-gaming to encourage the broader adoption of SAND and (b) supported marketing activities contributing to the growth of awareness about NFTs, Metaverse and SAND adoption, including co-marketing with exchanges and influencers.

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