Final thoughts on New York Blockchain Week and Consensus 2018 by Genaro Network Co-Founder and Strategic Lead Jason Inch

New York Blockchain Week

By way of introduction, as a co-founder and strategic lead of Genaro Network, one of my roles is to assimilate new ideas while attending, or speaking at, the many blockchain events around the world. I’ve attended dozens in the past two years and it’s been an amazing journey of learning, surprises, and relationships with the global phenomena of cryptocurrencies and blockchain. Thus far I have never experienced anything like Blockchain Week.

What is Blockchain Week?

For the last couple of years, the biggest blockchain-specific event globally has been Consensus, hosted by CoinDesk. Consensus has steadily attracted more and more attendees but it is not the only big event taking place in New York. The Ethereum development community hosts Ethereal around the same time. Other conferences such as Token Summit have hosted big events in New York as well. And a number of smaller events and big parties fill in the gaps. So somebody in the New York City Economic Development Corporation perhaps thought, Hey, do we want more cryptocurrency millionaires, new blockchain industry entrepreneurs, large corporations and institutional investors here, or don’t we? Of course, they do, and so New York Blockchain Week was born with official support from the city.

What were the outcomes of Blockchain Week?

By most accounts, the week was an outstanding success. It’s hard to get an accurate picture of total attendance because there were so many events with diverse attendees, but it was reported that more than 8000 people converged on Consensus 2018 alone. At about US$2000 per ticket, that was at least $16 million in ticket sales, filling up the Midtown Hilton Hotel’s conference facilities to the maximum. Other events brought significant economic benefit to the city: A single party on a yacht was reported to have cost $3 million. Then there were the hotel rooms, meals, and other spending by the visitors like me flying all the way from Asia to attend. The thousands of participants in the weeklong festivities must have been a serious windfall for tourism (not that Manhattan needs it, of course). So on that basis alone, Blockchain Week has set a high bar for future events.

Consensus 2018

Now on to the biggest event of Blockchain Week: the three-day Consensus 2018.

Some Quotes and Observations

After the welcome speeches and greetings from government officials, Don Tapscott kicked things off with a keynote and then fireside chat with FedEx’s Fred Smith and Robert Carter, where they made case for blockchain revolutionizing global trade’s $15 trillion supply chain.

What about the networking?

Of course one does not go to conferences in an industry that one is participating in for the presentations alone, you go there to meet-and-greet, find new opportunities, and catch up with old contacts. In this regard, Consensus has to be the best of the best, since almost everyone was there save for some conscientious objectors such as Vitalik Buterin who opposed the high-priced tickets for not being in the inclusive spirit of the blockchain world.

Things to improve

I’d like to close with a few humble suggestions of how to possibly make the Consensus conference, and Blockchain Week by extension, better.

Final Thoughts

Despite the high-priced ticket and associated expenses going to New York, the conference delivered good value even if it was, at times, a bit too corporate and commercial. There were non-corporate elements there, too, from the projects that rented out a meeting room (NEM, Blockstream) and featured their community in booths or by running their own mini-conferences, to the startups that joined the pitch competition.

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