Talking tech since 2003

This past weekend, Bitcoiners and "normies" (as referred to by Bitcoiners) descended upon the Magic City at Wynwood Mana Convention Center for a massive two-day (three, if you're a Bitcoin Whale) Bitcoin extravaganza. The Bitcoin 2021 conference, which up until this year had previously resided in California, brought 12,000 people together in Miami and made tons of headlines along the way. Here's our highlights of the event.

The energy and speaker lineup

As you would expect, the energy at the event was extremely high. People are really excited about Bitcoin and when you pair that with fact we've all been cooped up for over a year and the fact that we're all in Miami... well it all makes sense. The conference featured notable speakers including Jack Dorsey, Mayor Francis Suarez, the Winklevoss twins, Senator Cynthia Lummis, Tim Draper, Anthony "Pomp" Pompliano, Max Keiser, Nick Szabo, Tony Hawk, Floyd Mayweather, and many more.

Over the course of the weekend, I heard a lot of positivity from the speakers, with some of them even telling people to expect Bitcoin price targets of $1 million in the next five to ten years. Of course, these statements were prefaced by "expect volatility" along the way.

The Winklevii, told the audience that if you own Bitcoin today, you will be a millionaire in the future. Something I'm not sure I am comfortable about them saying, to be honest. I'm bullish on Bitcoin and crypto in general, but statements like that seem counter productive to the mission and are likely more about driving hype (which, in my opinion, makes it seem very scammy).

There's no doubt that the Winklevoss twins have been strong proponents of Bitcoin since its inception, noting that Bitcoin was the best kept secret back in 2013 when the OG Bitcoin Conference was held (albeit with much smaller attendance). That being said, the twins did emphasize that this is still "very early days," even equating owning Bitcoin to owning an early piece of the internet in the late 90s.

But it wasn't just the Winklevii that had some great soundbites, Jack Dorsey (Twitter, Square), also had a few good ones, including stating that "if Bitcoin needed help, I would leave Square and Twitter to work on Bitcoin." He went on to talk about how the need for a native currency for the internet was a must, which culminated in this doozy of a statement that blew up on Twitter:

Senator Lummis of Wyoming is also bullish on Bitcoin. β€œBitcoin is the most important commodity in the country, and that’s coming from a cattle rancher,” said Sen. Cynthia Lummis. β€œWe’re hoping to get our colleagues productive on this issue because it’s not a partisan issue," so I guess we will see if we can get something across the finish line in the U.S. Congress. I'd be curious to hear how Bitcoiners feel about her using the word "commodity" which has been a topic of debate.

Senator Lummis wasn't the only politician talking up Bitcoin at the conference. In a video broadcast to Bitcoin 2021, El Salvador President Nayib Bukele announced El Salvador's partnership with digital wallet company, Strike, to build the country's modern financial infrastructure using Bitcoin technology and make Bitcoin legal tender. He said he was sending a bill to his Congress. This announcement is just the beginning as nothing has been officially passed in the government. This is either a big deal or a big nothing, depending on who you ask.

Now, what would Bitcoin 2021 be without some theatrics? Max Keiser, in his rose colored sun glasses, decided to tear up a $10 bill during a CNBC interview claiming he could buy any U.S. senator he wanted. Cringeworthy? Yes. But it's nothing new.

Update: apparently that video is from an older interview, not from Bitcoin 2021. As it turns out, Max was wearing the same outfit at both events!

The last point I want to make about the speaker side of things is that I would have loved to have see more women and people of color on the stage. I feel like that was definitely an area where the conference lacked.

The Bitcoin startups

While at the conference I also spent a bunch of time walking through the exhibitor hall in search of cool startups and I found a bunch: BitPay, Moon, BitStop, Blockchain.com, Banq, and Compass Mining to name a few. A handful of them are even based down here in Florida which, to me, is super exciting and I can't wait to write about them and cover their journeys.

Artwork found in the Bitcoin 2021 art gallery.

Bitcoin 2022 in Miami?

With Bitcoin 2021 in the books, where will the conference end up next year? The venue is still to be determined but I'm hoping it's in Miami yet again. Overall, I enjoyed my time at the conference, it was well organized and the massive Wynwood Mana Convention Center provided an excellent location in terms of space and geography. I loved the food truck choices for food, the stages had tons of seating available, and the air conditioning was working really well (which is incredibly important in Miami!).

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