This was the topic of a panel discussion at the recent Consensus 2017 conference. Coindesk reports in an article here.
I agree with the skeptic point of view. If you are collecting money from investors, you need to follow the rules laid down in securities law. It doesn’t matter that you are collecting bitcoins instead of dollars.
Securities laws are supposed to provide a sanity check by regulators preventing founders from fleecing investors of dubious intellectual firepower with fraudulent claims. Such protection is even more necessary in the crypto currency space, since the ability to move bitcoins fast and at any time obviously increases the temptation to jump on some pump and dump scheme or other compared to the traditional case where you needed to set up a bank transaction.
Obviously many of the latest Initial Coin Offerings will fail. It would surprise me if nobody involved in starting these schemes went to jail.
In the long term, just as Japan just put regulation in place that prevents random guys on the Internet to set up a Bitcoin exchange, there will be securities regulation preventing random guys on the Internet to collect millions of dollars from investors without any regulatory oversight.
I for one think that will be a good thing.