San Francisco — The ambition that gave birth to the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) is as immodest as the name. The brainchild of a Silicon Valley start-up called Protocol Labs, IPFS aims to give anyone the chance to buy and sell unused computer storage space. There is even a made-up unit of exchange for this proposed market: a digital currency called Filecoin. Speculators do not seem concerned that this spot market for global computing resources is still only a plan embedded in a piece of open source software. Or that, if it catches on, it will be competing with corporate giants such as Amazon, the leading cloud computing provider. Despite these obvious obstacles, Protocol Labs raised more than $250m in an open online sale of its invented currency that ended last week.So-called initial coin offerings, or ICOs, like this have turned into the year’s most striking financial craze. More than $1.8bn has been raised by software developers from the sale of new currencies with names such...

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