New York Blockchain Week Begins With Fewer Lamborghinis
(Bloomberg) -- Even with the resurgence in the price of Bitcoin, there likely won’t be any Lamborghinis on display at this week’s crypto and blockchain conferences. Attendees can instead expect sound baths, meditation and lunch from food trucks paid via digital coins.
That was the scene at the Ethereal Summit in Brooklyn, one of the first during this year’s Blockchain Week, which tends to draw visitors from around the world. It’s a markedly different atmosphere from just a year ago, when participants at the Consensus blockchain conference displayed luxury cars as a reminder that crypto enthusiasts were building wealth despite a more than 50 plunge from record highs set six months earlier.
“I felt like I needed to take a shower after that,” said Yorke Rhodes, co-founder of blockchain at Microsoft. “That was an interesting experience.”
Back then, suddenly rich crypto enthusiasts had a lot to prove -- especially that there was money to be spent thanks to the rapid outburst of the disruptive industry built, in part, to take down traditional Wall Street means of business. That helped spur celebratory events like Ethereum co-founder Anthony Di Iorio’s yacht party for 1,000 attendees, two of whom reportedly won Aston Martins toward the end of the night.
“Planet Earth had a bit of token fever -- disco fever but for tokens,” Andrew Keys, head of capital markets at ConsenSys, said in an interview on the sidelines of the Ethereal Summit. This year, “probably people can’t afford it.”
The end of last year saw a prolonged meltdown in crypto prices, with the largest tokens shedding billions in market value thanks to closer regulatory scrutiny, slower-than-expected adaption, and industry-specific software issues. But prices have rebounded significantly this year. Bitcoin, the largest digital token, crossed the $7,000 over the weekend. It has more than doubled since New Year’s Day, though it remains well below the all-time high of almost $20,000.
The price rebound has helped boost optimism at some of this year’s Blockchain Week events, even as the crypto industry is hit with new allegations of fraud, theft and manipulation. Thursday’s Fluidity Summit in Brooklyn, for instance, was sold out, with 870 people in attendance, according to Sam Tabar, one of Fluidity’s co-founders.
The conferences are organized by different companies, each with their own distinct features and speakers. The more than 1,000 attendees gathered at Ethereal Summit’s first day events received wallets pre-loaded with meal tokens and got the opportunity to meditate in an outdoor tent. The event took place at Brooklyn’s Pioneer Works, a cultural center that featured art displays.
“It’s electric,” said Tyler Mulvihill, co-founder of Viant.io, a blockchain-based platform. “I would call this the lighting match here before the dynamite goes off.”
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