- I attended TOKEN2049 in London, one of 2021’s first major in-person crypto events.
- Two real-life llamas were at the event, to represent a ‘llamacorn’ – the next stage from a crypto unicorn.
- Speakers explored pertinent topics such as DeFi, NFTs, and what the industry could look like in the future.
- Sign up here for our daily newsletter, 10 Things Before the Opening Bell.
Even people whose work revolves around virtual assets are keen to start meeting up in the real world again, and I did just that last week at the TOKEN2049 crypto conference in London.
One of the key draws was billionaire Mike Novogratz, among the most influential voices in crypto, who was scheduled to headline the conference. But the Galaxy Digital CEO’s recent trip to the Dominican Republic meant COVID-19 restrictions kicked in unexpectedly, and he wasn’t able to enter the UK. His session was held virtually instead.
The CEOs of Ava Labs and DeversiFi were among the 100 or so crypto industry stalwarts giving speeches or taking part in panel discussions at the two-day event, covering topics ranging from regulation to the metaverse.
There were plenty of networking opportunities at the event, which was aimed at discovering what the industry will look like by 2049. Registration cost £999 ($1,361) and about half that for early birds, with half of all tickets invite-only, according to the organizers.
When one moderator asked how many people there hold NFTs, I saw several raised hands.
Some people suggested the pair represented gold and silver’s willingness to be overshadowed by crypto.
The conference took place October 7 to 8 at the De Vere Grand Connaught Rooms in Covent Garden in London.
They insisted on taking a selfie, and I happily obliged my cheerful acquaintances.
It was odd to come across two llamas near the breakfast area.
It turns out they symbolized a llamacorn — part llama and part unicorn — the conference’s icon. It symbolizes the next stage on from a crypto unicorn, which is a company valued at more than $1 billion by venture capitalists.
As these South American animals are quite rarely seen in the city, they’ve apparently broken the ice and sparked many conversations at past TOKEN 2049 conferences.
The crowd was visibly male-dominated, a fact that a member of the organizational team admitted to me they were “painfully aware” of.
Blockchain-based game Chain Guardians had the most eye-catching stall.
Some companies had set up marketing stalls for attendees to find out about their contribution to the crypto ecosystem.
Chain Guardians’ blockchain-based platform enables users to play games where at different stages they can earn in-game currency. It can be redeemed for Chain Guardian tokens or can be spent within the game.
More than 1,000 people attended to meet, network with, and hear from blockchain and fintech industry leaders from around the world.
Token2049 held its last event in Hong Kong in March 2019. Its tagline for the London 2021 event was: “It’s time to reunite.”
While executives from companies such as Coinbase, Binance, FTX, and Galaxy Digital spoke at panel discussions, attendees were able to talk to their representatives at breakout sessions.
Huobi, Infinity Skies, BlockFi, ByteTree and Copper.co showcased some of their products, services, and experiences to those at the event.
A fully-stocked bar right outside the main stage served free drinks for the networking event in the evening.
Gin and other hard liquor was on offer alongside wine, beer, and mixers. I noticed a lot of people were nursing hangovers from Thursday evening.
Each panel discussion had packed audiences to hear crypto experts debate a wide range of topics.
Industry experts discussed subjects such as the European crypto scene, the foundation of Web 3, whether DeFi regulation is an opportunity or threat, and how gaming became blockchain’s greatest ally.
ByteTree’s founder Charlie Morris argued bitcoin is overpriced. And Celsius Network CEO Alex Mashinsky, who wore a T-shirt with “HODL” on the front, said: “If you believe in bitcoin, why are you spending it?”
Global supply chain issues, yet unlimited coffee. To be fair, the bar got more takers.