This year's Consensus conference attracted a record number of attendees, 8,500 people in total. More than doubling in size compared to Consensus17 with 2,700 attendees. With our ‘Machine Economy’ team we have been part of the annual biggest Blockchain conference, whose growth is reflecting on the increasing relevance of blockchain technology and on the fact that numerous new players are entering the space – many of which are corporates, (accredited) investors and new crypto funds.
We seized the full potential of this crypto week
Consensus18 as the centerpiece of the New York Blockchain Week attracted a lot of talent from all over the world and therefore provided great networking opportunities. The change in atmosphere from previous years to this year has been quite remarkable though. In the early days when the conference started to gain momentum everyone new brought new ideas, new projects, new visions to the table. After it reached a certain size and recognition, the new players that are entering seem to rather take something from the table than adding to it. The old blockchain elite is networking around the main event and it has become much harder to get access to the inner circle directly at the event. Therefore, it was vital to our 'Machine Economy' team to go all the way over to New York to meet old and new friends, reinforce alliances and build partnerships agreements. In order to seize the full potential of this crypto week we hosted – together with the German Accelerator, Chainwise and amatus – a networking event in the heart of the Big Apple. This allowed us to foster the exchange between the international community of blockchain pioneers - and bring together the old and new stakeholders.
Apart from hosting our own event, the goal of our team was to strengthen our network and meet new interesting startups that contribute to our 'M2M' strategy according to which in the near future a machine will be able to pay its assembly, maintenance and energy autonomously in exchange for other digital commodities such as compute power, data, bandwidth etc. Our goal was to spot the new building blocks for the Machine Economy.
Consensus18 has been an invaluable experience regarding new kind of investments
From an investors perspective, Consensus18 has been an invaluable experience. Mainly late stage investment opportunities with pure token focus were to be found at the event. In the past, we as a corporate VC were focusing purely on equity investments. Since the startup landscape is changing and with that new investment opportunities are evolving, we ourselves are adapting to this change and broaden our investment offer as well. Consensus18 was reassuring that for us token investments can be a complimentary investment vehicle to our existing portfolio.
Overall learnings and take-aways:
- Déjà vu: Topics from 2017 such as regulator education, scalability and centralization were again hotly debated in 2018. Unfortunately, there is still a lack of regulatory clarity as the global Blockchain landscape is very fragmented.
- Enterprises are taking blockchain seriously: Fresh money is entering the space. Many corporates are integrating blockchain into their strategy now. There are many corporates on stage (e.g. FedEx gave insight that logistic companies do realize the opportunity of blockchain application to reduce friction and increase efficiency of processes along their supply chains. They do note that they see regulation and legacy systems as their main challenges.), IBM, Microsoft, Deloitte, Accenture, etc. taking up huge space at the conference (on stage and booths)
- Maturation: Joe Lubin announced Kaleido, a partnership between ConsenSys and Amazon Web Services to allow enterprises to quickly create and simply operate private blockchain networks. This contributes to the maturation of full-stack enablement and allows enterprises to focus on the value proposition and legacy integration.
- Diversity: While an impressive 40% of Consensus18 attendees were female the sentiment in parts still reminded of the late 90s Wall Street days. Initiatives like the Accenture Diversity Lunch were highly appreciated and activity towards all kinds of diversity (gender & nationalities) is worthwhile supporting.
- Cryptocurrency Assets: The community has a very strong opinion about the different crypto asset classes. They came up with seven distinctions: 1.) Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin 2.) Platform Tokens like Ethereum 3.) Utility Tokens like Steem.it 4.) Security Tokens 5.) Natural Asset Tokens that refer to trees, minerals or carbon credits) 6.) Crypto Collectibles like Crypto Kitties and 7.) Crypto-Fiat currencies like Stablecoin, Crypto-Dollars. Unfortunately, there is still a lack of regulatory clarity.
In a nutshell, Consensus18 brought together top talent from all over the world which offers, in combination with the New York Blockchain Week, excellent networking and business opportunities. Overall it showed us, how important it is to stay in touch with the old inner circle of the blockchain ecosystem where most of the business deals and joint activities are happening.