They could not have pulled this off in any way if it wasn't about virtual currencies.
The Wall Street hates competition, and for that matter, they have lobbied the Federal Government to setup walls to "protect" investors using the SEC (Security and Exchange Commission). Companies willing to have an IPOs (Initial Public Offering - which is essentially what ETH is doing in some way) requires the involvement of Wall Street banks.
In reality, it has and STILL is today the responsibility of the investors to do their homework before investing. But with the SEC, there is this added layer of difficulty added to the sellers of security (shares). As we know in the real estate industry (http://WrenInvestment.com), we cannot openly advertise on our web page about an investment we are offering: for X dollars, you will receive X shares of this company being formed that will own this commercial property with an expected return of Y% yearly in cash flow. Even if we were accepting BTC as funding, we would still be subject to those regulations from the SEC . In other words, because we are not going with a costly public offering via a bank on Wall Street, we need to have a prior relationship with our investors before we can mention about the investment.
As we can see, not so for Ethereum. But a virtual currency can exchange one virtual currency for another as a mean of funding by publicly offering it loud on the web without any involvement from any Wall Street bank. Would that explains why JP Morgan made a negative comment about Bitcoin do you think?
;-) It would have been sad for both Ethereum and for us if they weren't allowed to publicly offer it, but restrict to friends and personal connections. The amount raised would have been more limited. And if an IPO was involved via Wall Street, you can be sure the banks would have had a very favorable cut in more ways than we can think.
For helping them fund the project, Ethereum has launched a pre-sale of ETH (Ether coins) at 2000 ETH per 1 BTC as an initial offering, with a lower amount of ETH in a few weeks. The sale is expected to complete in 41 days. Over 8 Million ETH sold so far, meaning 4000 BTC has been received, at a price of $640, this means $2.4 Million so far has been raised.
This is how it should be done for everything. Although this project is not absolutely sure to be a complete success, the team behind is well recognized. By having the SEC or the FDA or other agencies, some people wrongly believe the investment have been "checked out" and verified for their integrity if they are allowed to submit an IPO. When these agencies are not involved, people are more aware, as in this case, they are on their own, which is a rule that should be applied to every investment regardless of the agencies involved.
In any cases, the reputation of the team plays a factor. Additionally, these guys have been pretty open about their work, more than any private company would have been. If they screw up, their reputation takes a hit, hence an incentive to complete.
Welcome to the wonderful world of decentralized funding!
Disclaimer: I invested in ETH yesterday.