From October 5-13th, San Francisco buzzed with the familiar din of excited blockchain developers we’ve seen at recent events. At blockchain conferences in the time of #buidl, hackathons are (refreshingly) more prevalent than afterparties.
This was a fitting impression, as one of the organizers of SF Blockchain week, Steven Chen from consultancy Noris, confirmed, “Our slogan is change the narrative. And that’s what we’re doing – we’re changing the narrative and how we’re approaching this industry.”
In an Iconist interview, Chen expounded on the theme:
“The reason why we’re doing this, the biggest value added to the blockchain community is the fact that all the other conferences this year have focused on Lambos in the courtyard and bringing in people to network. I feel like the content itself was overlooked and no one really learned anything from the conference itself.”
“We feel that in order to move this space forward, what brings the most value is actually educating people. Actually teaching people to move forward from either the building perspective, so that’s developers, or from the adoption perspective, so that’s consumers. I feel like this space really, really lacks that right now, and that’s what we’re trying to change with SF Blockchain Week.”
A Packed Week
The week-and-change event was packed with activities morning til night, some of which included some very innovative networking. For instance, on just one day we participated in a morning run with other conference goers, attended the meaty Epicentre core conference throughout the day, and networked in the evening with our friends at Beijing-based JD Capital. Though the week was packed, organizers did a good job of inserting decompression activities to digest and debate the content we were intaking.
One notable cultural difference in the San Francisco blockchain is the desirability of working with as big of names as possible. “We worked with Coinbase” or “We got money from a16z” were they types of credibility-building statements companies used, while the focus in our area, New York City, seems more based on the technical substance of the project (so you claim to have Ethereum’s scaling solution?)
Here are some of the events that impacted us most– several of which we happened to host or co-host.
The Women in Blockchain event at ConsenSys headquarters had a great turnout. We were especially enthused with the men in attendance who were passionate on the issues at stake and the dialogue around how to create more impact through the blockchain projects evolving, and also how to involve and include more women in the ecosystem.
The Blockchain for Social Impact Summit featured the types of determined, altruistic blockchain projects our space needs. Check us out here as part of the latest CNBC Cryptotrader, with Mahoney and Bobby from ConsenSys featured in the episode. This highlighted the work tokens and blockchain are being utilized in the space to gain traction in the spheres of sustainability and impact. As founder of the Summit, Jean Loick-Micheaux said, “2019 will be the year of us leveraging blockchain for more socially impactful projects.”
ETH SF was a quintessential Ethereum hackathon in a stunning space. The multitude of teams that raged to #buidl was inspiring and a lot of camaraderie flowed through the Palace of Fine Arts. The opening talk with Vitalik and Balaji from Coinbase drew huge interest. Vitalik made a strong point around accessibility, calling out for corner stores being one way to tackle this - “If you don’t have even small amounts, its really hard to participate in this ecosystem.” ConsenSys had a ton of different spokes represented alongside Token Foundry, such as Bounties, which created a ‘SF Coin’ for the hackathon.
The Blockchain Community Leaders Breakfast we hosted was a hit. People did not want to leave after the 3-hour event. It was fantastic to have an amalgamation of community leaders from projects as local as the Bay Area and hailing from as far Findland.
Epicenter was a fundamental part of the week and Token Foundry’s cryptoeconomics lead, Wayne Chang, shared some sharp insights on the panel alongside Andy Bromberg, CEO Coinlist, Harrison Hines, CEO Terminal, Paul Veradittakit of Pantera Capital, moderated by Zachary DeWitt from Wing VC. Plenty of thoughts were debated and agreed upon in respect to the trajectory of utility tokens and the uncertainties of the law in this domain.
The event we co-hosted with New Style Capital was a stellar evening. Packing out the exclusive Modernist Private Members club with VIP people from the ecosystem lent itself to an amazing night of talks, lightning talks and project x fund relationships being fostered. A highlight of the evening was the discussion led by high profile crypto journalists such as Samantha Stein from TechCrunch who sparked some active debate on how blockchain can play into the media sphere and how projects can be going about inserting themselves meaningfully in the media space.
Similarly the investor panel, filled with thought leaders and key investors in the space included big names like jack Lee from HCM Ventures, Amit Pradhan, founder of Silicon Valley Blockchain Society, Jordan Kong from Polychain Capital, and Simone Syed from Velorum Capital as well as the founder of BitAsset.
The diversity of Asia based projects and leaders, alongside European and North American players was impressive.
Similarly, the blockchain gathering Token Foundry co-hosted with Huobi and JD Labs the following night led to a sold out event with eager SF Blockchain Week attendees queueing for hours to get into MInna Gallery.
SF Blockchain Week felt like a turning point in the industry, as we complete the pendulum swing back to the building period that follows the frenzy. We can’t wait to see what the next period of fruition will bring.
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