TON: Making Telegram a Web3 Super App

TON: Making Telegram a Web3 Super App

Disclaimer: Your capital is at risk. This is not investment advice.

Token Takeaway: Toncoin;

TON, also known as “The Open Network”, is a community-driven, decentralised Layer-1 blockchain platform. Initially developed by Telegram, TON offers an open internet for users, designed to provide a user and developer-friendly environment with low fees and high throughput. This Token Takeaway takes a deep dive into TON to explore its history, understand its fundamentals, and analyse the value proposition of its native token, Toncoin (TON).

Editor’s note: While TON is short for The Open Network, i.e. the protocol, it is also the ticker for Toncoin. To avoid confusion, this article will use TON when referring to the protocol and Toncoin when referring to the token.


Originally named the Telegram Open Network, TON made its debut in 2018 when it was introduced by the Telegram Messenger team under the leadership of Pavel and Nikolai Durov (Telegram co-founders). According to the TON roadmap, the Durov brothers were looking for a Layer-1 blockchain capable of accommodating Telegram's extensive user base, which numbers in the hundreds of millions. However, their search for such a blockchain proved to be unsuccessful, leading them to conceptualise the idea of TON.

TON raised an impressive $1.7bn through a token sale of its native token (initially known as GRAM) back in 2018. This event was one of the largest token sales ever. The following year, TON introduced comprehensive documentation and launched two testnets. However, the course of TON's development took a turn in October 2019 when the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed a lawsuit against Telegram, alleging that it had conducted an unregistered securities offering. After initially contesting the SEC's claims, Telegram ultimately chose to halt TON's progress in May 2020. They opted to settle the SEC's charges by paying an $18.5 million fine and returning the raised funds to the investors. 

While that may seem like the end to TON, the reality was quite the opposite. In 2020 and 2021, a group of open-source developers, NewTON, revived the development of TON. This transition also saw the Telegram Open Network rebranded as The Open Network, outlined in a 126-page “condensed” whitepaper. They ensured the continued stability of testnet2, which the community later endorsed as the official mainnet in May 2021. TON was also endorsed by Telegram CEO Pavel Durov in an official Telegram post. The NewTON team evolved into the TON Foundation, a non-profit organisation committed to nurturing and advancing the TON ecosystem. The Foundation also owns the original TON GitHub and the domain.

Notably, there is another concurrent community-run network called Everscale. It was also developed using the original Telegram codebase by another open-source community called FreeTON (later Everscale). However, Everscale has zero affiliation with Telegram, which is likely due to avoiding regulatory attention from the SEC. Hence, neither FreeTON nor Everscale have ever received any official support or recognition from Telegram or Durov. While there's much more to delve into about Everscale, it falls beyond the scope of this article. For further details, you can refer to their development history and FreeTON's background.

What Is The Open Network (TON)?