Summary: Consensus, one of the world’s biggest cryptocurrency conferences, had over 15,000 attendees, hundreds of presentations and speakers, and was held in Austin, Texas a week ago. We interviewed four attendees to understand the consensus about Consensus. 2022 is a notable year for the cryptocurrency industry for many reasons, including that it is the first year ...

Consensus, one of the world’s biggest cryptocurrency conferences, had over 15,000 attendees, hundreds of presentations and speakers, and was held in Austin, Texas a week ago. We interviewed four attendees to understand the consensus about Consensus.

2022 is a notable year for the cryptocurrency industry for many reasons, including that it is the first year that in-person conferences are being held since the start of COVID. Monica Zou, CEO and co-founder of Influencer Education and Consultation, and BD Manager of SomniLife, has already attended Bitcoin Miami, Permissionless, and DCentral, found Consensus quite different from the other conferences as she observed people of more diverse backgrounds are joining. Keith Chen, Managing Partner of SNZ Holdings, had previously attended Consensus 2019 in New York and noted that there were many parallels between the bearish market conditions then and now. However, he also noted that there was still “high enthusiasm” for the market from attendees at both conferences.

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At the conference, the expo floor was filled with hundreds of booths with projects showcasing their capabilities, as well as stages where industry leaders shared their thoughts about blockchain and its potential. Youwei Yang, Cornell graduate and Director of Financial Analytics at StoneX, mentioned that the regulation talks were “not interesting but very important,” and believes it is beneficial to regulate and reduce risk sooner rather than later. Keith Chen was impressed with the “inclusiveness” of the conference and its wide variety of represented sectors, like GameFi and NFT projects. Monica Zou’s favorite booths were in the Metaverse Zone, noting that they were “so futuristic… definitely the most interesting.” 

The timing of this year’s Consensus conference was interesting, as it came during a market-wide crash that could have long-lasting effects. Frank Quinn, Head of XT Labs, doesn’t mind the bear market: “GameFi is too hot, everything is too hot.” In fact, his company has not invested in any new projects since November, and plans to use the bear market to determine which projects will last. Keith Chen noted that the trading firms were fine with a bear market since they make profits off volatility and that asset management companies and startups doing fundraising are more concerned. Monica Zou thinks it’s actually a good opportunity for projects to reflect and restrategize, and focus more on the product deliveries.

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Some of the most notable parts of Consensus were the lavish afterparties hosted by companies, which included buffets, rented-out spaces, and free merchandise. Monica Zou’s Metaverse company, SomniLife, co-hosted an afterparty and thought it was a fantastic decision: “Overall, it’s a wonderful networking opportunity for everyone… can’t tell it’s a bearish market at all.” The afterparty included DJs, magicians, acrobats, and numerous opportunities for networking: one of Monica’s friends, who initially came to the party to support her, ended up finding an investor to back her project. Keith Chen’s favorite part about the afterparties was the randomness that comes with in-person events and the possibility to meet all sorts of people at the events. Frank Quinn also attended some of the afterparties but thought small groups were better for productive networking as opposed to the loud and distracting environment of a party.

During Consensus 2021, which was entirely virtual, they launched a DESK token which was given to attendees of presentations and used to buy merchandise. They implemented the same system this year, but with much less success - not a single one of the interviewees used the token. 

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When asked about their overall experience at Consensus and what they learned, each person had a unique view on the conference. Youwei Yang, a veteran of conferences, noted that the benefits of attending conferences is logarithmic and hits a plateau, and that everyone talks about the same topics at every conference: “10% new stuff, 90% old stuff.” He enjoys learning more about the technology and in-depth information about projects. Frank loved the opportunity to finally meet some of the partners that his company works with and create an ecosystem where projects can collaborate. Keith Chen had the chance to hear firsthand from GameFi and NFT projects, and thought being in-person helped his understanding: “if there are people beside you and they can explain everything in the game it is much better [than doing individual research].” Thanks to the environment and events she attended, Monica Zou gained a lot of “knowledge, inspiration, and new ideas about what [she] want[s] to do both professionally and personally,” and envisioned a Metaverse scene where people can meet each other similar to in-person events at Consensus.

2022 was the first year that Consensus was hosted in Austin, as it was previously based in New York. One of the biggest issues was the heat, as downtown Austin reached highs of 105℉ almost every day of the conference. Youwei Yang had some criticisms about the organization of the conference and would have preferred if the different locations were closer together. He also wished that each type of person at the event, like traders, builders, and investors, each had a unique badge color to help make the process of meeting people more efficient. Next year, Consensus will be in April which should help mitigate the Texas heat issues.

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Overall, Consensus 2022 was a success and our interviewees had a great time. Networking and the afterparties seemed to be the most popular and useful activities, and it is refreshing to hear that the experts in the space are not terribly worried about a bear market. With each passing year, Consensus becomes a bigger and more grand event and has cemented its place as a premier cryptocurrency conference leader.

By Lincoln Murr

Special thanks to our interviewees Frank Quinn, Youwei Yang, Monica Zou, and Keith Chen for their time and thoughts about Consensus.