Inside Crypto’s Most Exclusive Gathering

Poker chips, high bets and lots of money. Over the past week, just 2,000 meters from the Caribbean’s largest casino in the Bahamian capital, Nassau, some 2,000 people have gathered at the Baha Mar resort convention center to discuss cryptocurrencies and the upcoming version of the World Wide Web, also known as Web3 .

Just last month, a similar, albeit much larger, crowd took to Miami Beach to pay homage to the invention that started it all: bitcoin. But if the exposure of 25,000 people in South Florida felt like a Coachella for bitcoin loyalists, the latest summit, called “Crypto Bahamas,” came a little closer in resemblance to the Davos conference at the World Economic Forum, no matter the code. casual wear. Almost everyone, from CEOs to developers, wore flip flops, sneakers, and T-shirts with slogans like “NFTs are a scam” and “Burnt Finance.”

Co-organized by billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried, the FTX cryptocurrency exchange and the SALT thought leadership forum, founded by Anthony Scaramucci’s SkyBridge Capital, Crypto Bahamas featured guests ranging from former US President Bill Clinton and former Prime Minister from the UK Tony Blair to the NFL. star Tom Brady and his supermodel wife Giselle Bundchen. It was a long way from the early days of the “super gloomy coders” who heard the end of the banks.

According to Scramucci, a former White House communications director and founder of SkyBridge Capital, the event was designed to “bridge the generational gap between people who are transforming the world and traditional financial people who need to see this and accept it.”

Sit happened. Lack of market-driven ads, Wall Street and other traditional finance executives (or TradFi, as the cool guys say) of Susquehanna, the crypto arm of Jump and Hudson River Trading, among others, discussed how digital assets fit in modern investment portfolios. and the broader maturation of the asset class. The billboards had ironic titles like “The Boomers Are Coming: How Crypto is Transforming Wall Street” and “From Inspector Gadget to the Future of Banking.” Famous bitcoin evangelists Mike Novogratz, CEO of investment firm Galaxy Digital, and Cathie Wood, CEO of ARK Investment Management, reiterated their bold price forecasts: $ 500,000 and $ 1 million for a bitcoin, respectively, though the cryptocurrency fell to $ 37,000 at the opening. event day. The 8% drop in the market that morning left guests very calm.

“Someone is probably shortening all this,” joked an attendee, as his friends sang the favorite acronyms of the cryptocurrency WAGMI (We Are All Gonna Make It ‘) and HODL (industry-enthusiastic abbreviation for “hold” written by one of the first investors in bitcoins too excited to correct their mistake).

Confidence is not exactly unfounded. According to CB Insights, blockchain and cryptocurrency startups in the first quarter of this year alone raised $ 9.2 billion through 461 global stock agreements. Over the same period, hedge funds focused on cryptocurrencies raised $ 11.9 billion, according to data provider Dove Metrics, and that enthusiasm shows no signs of slowing down as investors are queuing up for the next big thing.

Much of that hope at the event was placed on projects built on the Ethereum Solana contender. The blockchain has quickly become one of the so-called layer 1 leaders, blockchains that act as an underlying infrastructure for other applications, not least thanks to the early promotion of the Bankman-Fried event co-host. According to industry data aggregator DeFi Llama, Solana currently supports more than 60 decentralized protocols, with more than $ 4 billion in total value deposited.

As part of the conference, the non-profit Solana Foundation co-organized one of its Hacker Houses signatures: a six-day meeting for developers who create applications such as decentralized exchanges and NFT in the blockchain chain of the same name. Shortly after the event ended, the blockchain suffered a 7-hour disruption caused, according to reports, by a major race of bots trying to coin NFTs on the network. Jump Crypto Engineers, the cryptocurrency arm of Jump Trading Group, said traffic hit a record 4 million transactions per second on Saturday afternoon. Although Solana continued to make noise at the event, the timing could not have been worse. The wave of blockchain service interruptions and interruptions is raising additional questions about network stability. According to CoinGecko, Solana’s native token fell in a 24-hour low of $ 83.13 about three hours after the break before bouncing back to $ 89.

BLeaving aside the snafu of the lock chain, lavish parties were held left and right in the best traditions of the newly rich. Solana’s team hosted her high school just a few floors above the convention site in an ivy-covered outdoor pavilion on the roof of the SLS hotel, attracting guests such as former U.S. presidential candidate Andrew Yang, actor Orlando Bloom and pop star Katy Perry (In February, Perry promoted FTX jokingly on Instagram saying he was leaving music to practice for the exchange). The following night, famed DJ Steve Aoki and former One Direction member Liam Payne played a set for attendees at a sleek nightclub across the casino. The occasional talk discernible through explosive rhythms ranges from “99% of games to win are ponies” to “I can finally see who the people behind those monkey jpegs are.”

More importantly, the high-level event highlighted the establishment of FTX, which a few days earlier had opened its new $ 150 million headquarters on the island, as a gravitational force within the nascent industry. In a keynote [off-the-record but partly leaked] At the closing session, former U.S. President Bill Clinton warned of the “temptation to abuse” new technologies, but described cryptography as “obviously serious” in his comments. But perhaps the most memorable part of the exchange was the apparent contrast between the former statesmen and the host. Tony Blair noted that he felt “a little overcoat” sitting next to Bankman-Fried, who moderated the panel with his standard attire: FTX brand T-shirt, gray shorts and New Balances.

The conference also helped consolidate the state of the Bahamas as the next cryptographic paradise. In 2020, the island nation became one of the first in the world to implement a central bank digital currency (CBDC), the sand dollar, and passed legislation focused on cryptography that played a key role in convincing companies like FTX to settle down. in the islands. . This was stated by Prime Minister Philip Davis Forbes at the conference local authorities are actively working to allow Bahamians to pay taxes using the sand dollar and are in talks with at least four other cryptocurrency exchanges seeking to establish stores in the jurisdiction. “The Bahamas are not only open and ready for business, but they are moving to the forefront of this most exciting era of digital asset innovation,” Davis said.

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