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Quartz/Matthew De Silva
Hashing it out.

At crypto’s biggest gathering, attendance has fallen but irrational optimism remains as high as ever

Matthew De Silva
Member exclusive by Matthew De Silva

Two young crypto-entrepreneurs climbed the stage in the press room of the Consensus convention and sat behind a small table. “Thanks for being here, everybody,” they said to the room of reporters, none of whom paid them much attention. The two proceeded to give a presentation that was more or less ignored. In sympathy, I offered applause at the end of the tiny press conference. Then, as quickly as they arrived, the boyish founders disappeared into the crowd and the small press corps returned to our writing and interviews.

This scene played out several times over the course of three days, as fledgling blockchain startups—exchanges, wallet services, and blockchain-for-x projects—announced their founding to a mostly empty and apathetic press room. So it goes at Consensus, where there are far more crypto projects eager for notice than reporters—and more importantly, funders—who can give it.

Consensus, hosted by CoinDesk, took place this week at the New York Hilton Midtown. More than 4,000 attendees came together for three days of networking and discussions about the future of the blockchain industry. That’s a bit less than half the number that attended last year as the crypto winter took its toll, but many conference-goers remarked that the quality of conversation was much higher. The “weak hands” were washed out during 2018’s bear market, laughed one crypto exec.