In June, San Francisco hosted the biggest Web3 event the city has ever seen. “Join the world’s brightest dreamers and doers for a full day of Web3, dapps, protocols and the future of the internet,” the website said. “Change is in the air.”
For more than six months, the idea of a third iteration of the Internet has kept America’s tech sector in check. Although still theoretical, web3 has been hailed as proof that cryptocurrencies can be used in the real world. Even in the cold of a crypto winter, devotees are holding their ground.
Web3 evangelists still believe that the future of the Internet will be controlled by users. Instead of companies deciding how we interact, life online will be decentralized, meaning users will be able to connect freely with each other. Blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies will allow us to spend and send our money online safely without going through banks and other financial institutions.
The web3 conference in San Francisco, called Graph Day, was an opportunity to see how this dream was progressing. Held at the Palais des Beaux-Arts, a vast Roman-style rotunda in the chic Marina district, it brought together impressive donors. Over $400,000 was up for grabs in a hackathon. Sponsors included digital asset platform Coinbase.
The problem is that Graph Day was imagined before the worst of the cryptocurrency crash. Towards the end of last year, the price of bitcoin, the world’s largest cryptocurrency, hit a new high of nearly $50,000. hollywood actor Matt Damon was one of the celebrities advertising tokens and crypto exchanges. Its TV ad, which aired during the Super Bowl, encouraged investors to consider crypto because “fortune smiles on the brave.” Gwyneth Paltrow has partnered with Cash App to donate $500,000 in bitcoins, telling she magazine that she wanted to help bring more women into the world of crypto investing.
By June, however, the combination of rising interest rates, recession fears, and constant scams had burst the crypto bubble. The bitcoin price had almost halved and continued to fall. Dogecoin, a cryptocurrency created as a joke and made popular by Tesla boss Elon Musk, had fallen from a high of $0.52 in early 2021 to $0.07.
But don’t imagine that a spectacular crash could shake the self-confidence of the tech sector. Regardless of prices falling, the mood at Graph Day was still optimistic. At the party that followed, the drinks were flowing and the conversation was about non-fungible tokens. Instead of exchanging business cards, a partygoer offered his phone with a QR code linked to his Twitter account, along with an NFT profile picture.
Cautious voices were rare. “Maybe,” thought one reveler, “this will be the last such event. But I seriously doubt it.”
It’s easier to avoid a price crash when you insist that the goal isn’t personal wealth. Web3 and crypto conferences like to promote the idea that crypto is a force for good. Some attendees had recently gone to Crypto Bahamas and Crypto Miami – clustered in tropical locations with Tony Blair and Bill Clinton to congratulate each other for a better future.
Any mention of the volatile price of digital tokens is considered a faux pas. Crypto may have generated wealth for some and left many others with heavy losses. But the Web3 conference in San Francisco focused on how blockchain technology could make the world a better place. The panic about fluctuating prices is for Wall Street morons who are only interested in quick money and have no knowledge of the technology behind it.
Comparing profits or suggesting that crypto might be pure speculation is taboo. So is any mention of criminal activity using crypto or hacks that have left some investors in the red. Right now, this never say die attitude is exemplified by Sam Bankman-Fried, the 30-year-old billionaire who founded the FTX crypto exchange. Known for riding in defense of crypto and for wearing shorts and t-shirts to smart events with his curly hair askew, he has stepped in to provide credit or buy out struggling crypto businesses like BlockFi. He is now reported to be looking at the Robinhood trading app.
For believers, there will be more opportunities to profit in the coming weeks. Since Graph Day, the crypto crash has continued. Ethereum, the second largest cryptocurrency, is down 73% from its peak. Coinbase’s stock price, which only joined the public markets last year, is down 77% this year. When I asked a viewer what he thought of the dramatic drop in crypto prices and whether it might put the brakes on future conferences like this, he said he was just looking forward to buying more. others.