The fifth annual Consensus conference, Blockchain’s biggest event of the year, ended a couple of weeks ago in New York. Since 2015, it has annually drawn all influential firms, developers, CEOs, and investors in the blockchain and Cryptocurrency world to discuss the future of the ecosystem.
Five hundred participants attended the first event. Since then, it has become almost a Blockchain pilgrimage, with over 7000 attendees in 2018.
Its popularity likely stems from the top-notch personalities from the Blockchain industry, business, academia and beyond who are invited as speakers. Among the big names who have spoken at the three-day gathering are Ron Paul, Former US Senator, Adam Back of Blockstream, Brian Armstrong of Coinbase, Vitalik Buterin of Ethereum, Fred Smith of FedEx, James Bullard, President of the Federal Reserve of St Louis.
Adding excitement to the event, since its inception, Bitcoin price always surges before, during and after it. It is certainly the most prestigious event in the Cryptocurrency realm.
QBITtimes reached out to some participants for their impressions of Consensus 2019. Kenneth Bosak, a Blockchain Gamer and Podcast host, thinks that interest from the mainstream regarding the next thing for Bitcoin proves that they understand that Bitcoin is the next big thing.
But Prashanth Swaminathan, CEO of XDAT, a Digital Asset Exchange, expressed concerns about the attendance at this year’s event. “Consensus was well attended again, but we only had, I think, 20-25% of last year’s strength,” Swaminathan noted. “There was much more mainstream participation, such as enterprises, banks, and asset managers. No Lambos outside, thankfully.”
Bosak attributes the lower attendance in 2019 to the long Crypto Winter and other factors. He explained, “I don’t know if 20% is accurate, but there were obviously significantly fewer attendees this year, I believe the bear market and lack of ICO booths had a lot to do with it.”
The CEO of XDAT agreed with Bosak, relating the decline in patronage to the casualties resulting from the crypto winter. He also attributes part of it to expensive tickets and general conference fatigue.
On how participants felt about the ongoing bull run, Bosak thought that, because of the decline from the all-time high of $20,000 to the present $7000 to $8000 range, in the eyes of the investors he spoke to, ”We are a few thousand dollars away from a stable bull run”. Moreover, he stated that some Traders were talking about shorting.
From what he gathered from participants, Swaminathan believes that they were cautiously optimistic. “A pull back will happen, but we are not going back to the $3000 levels. We will, rather, bounce back from $6000.
Consensus Is Overpriced
The Blockchain ecosystem and the individuals involved can derive a lot of benefit from events like this. For Bosak, personally, it is a boost for networking and partnership, “… but, as for mass adoption, I see events like Consensus as non-events. They are so overpriced and overhyped that they always seem to under-deliver, creating an elitist echo chamber.”
To be part of Consensus, it cost over $2000. Many expressed concerns, especially on Social Media, that the event is too high-priced. Bosak remarked, “Consensus is completely overpriced. It’s an expensive shill fest, a circle jerk. Most of the best conversations are had in the lobby or at the free after parties. Never buy a ticket, just show up.”
While acknowledging it is expensive, Swaminathan does concede that it might be a way to limit participation. “It is seriously overpriced, but it may be their way of managing numbers. It is the biggest event on the calendar, so it is likely that pricing is influenced by demand.”