Sponsors in the spotlight, a search for the “white whale” of crypto markets and a look at some of the bizarro world that can be crypto. Plus some key names to be aware of and a tortured analogy between crypto and natural gas, all in this recap from day 2 of #cryptoconnection2021.
- Three sponsors took turns in the spotlight and it was a bit of a Goldilocks scenario: one too little, one too much and one just right. In the first case, Julian Sawyer of BitStamp failed to impress in a lackluster discussion about trust in crypto. It wasn’t bad, per se, but it lacked punch and failed to make a strong case for BitStamp as a leading crypto exchange. Next was Chance Barnett of Jewel interviewing David Burt, the Premier of Bermuda. Bermuda has been something of a trailblazer since the enactment of the Digital Asset Business Act in 2018 but this 15 minute spotlight was too much “inside baseball” and didn’t shine any insight on Jewel. Finally, the presentation from Nathan McCauley of Anchorage Digital nailed it, providing enough context and detail to understand both the mission and objectives of the enterprise.
- Cryptocurrency ETFs have become something of a white whale, at least in the U.S., obsessed over but seemingly never within reach. I couldn’t tell if the title of the “ETFs — The Final Crypto Frontier” was tongue in cheek or not but it seems highly unlikely that the introduction of crypto ETFs will in any way be the end of the line for crypto. In fact, I’d be willing to wager that they will barely be a footnote when the final cryptoasset tale is spun. That’s an easy bet for me to make because I’ll probably be dead when this story reaches it’s conclusion. As for the panel, Elliot Johnson and Alex Tapscott provided valuable real-world insight from Canada, Chris Zuehlke demonstrated why DRW is such a powerhouse in market development and Ari Burstein ably steered the conversation. Jeff Bandman said it best when he stated that regulators allowing the creation of a crypto ETF in the U.S. will come down to one word: data.
- Is it just me or does it often seem like cryptoassets exist in some bizarro universe where good news is bad and bad news is good? Two recent examples are the recovery of some of the bitcoin that was paid in the Colonial Pipeline ransomware case and the Chinese crackdown on cryptocurrency mining. The former disproved the narrative that bitcoin is harder to recover than cash (good luck getting back a bag-o-cash!) but spooked some into thinking that bitcoin itself was hacked (it’s unlikely that it was). In the latter case, the withdrawal of Chinese miners would seemingly make BTC more vulnerable but it served instead to prove the resilience of the network. As for further bizarro examples, one needs look no further than Elon Musk.
Here are some terms, phrases, protocols and businesses that I’ll be looking to learn more about: cryptographic primitives, Overton Window, Web3, Minsky Moment, Aave, Compound, Uniswap, Solana, Spring Labs and Metamask. These aren’t endorsements, only terms that I heard more than once during the event or were otherwise memorable. There is much to learn!
Zoom details: the differences between the desks and shelves of Mark Cuban and Mike Novogratz. The former were a jumbled mess of sports memorabilia and a bottle of Prilosec while the latter was more orderly and featured a book on Keith Haring, although the stuffed and costumed squirrels were a little creepy.
Finally, I teased a story about natural gas in my last blog so here goes: I was interrupted several times during the first day of Crypto Connection 2021 because People’s Gas was installing a new gas meter at my house as part of a multi-year effort to replace decades old infrastructure. I was struck by the parallels with the cryptoasset economy, where new rails are being built as we speak, as well as by the stench in my basement as some small amount of residual natural gas leaked out when the old meter was removed. In reality, natural gas has no smell and another gas, mercaptan, is added so that natural gas leaks can be detected by the human nose. In cryptoland there is no mercaptan yet so there’s no easy way to tell if a protocol, product, or provider “stinks”. It makes sense to be careful out there!
Chuck Mackie is a principal at Fathom Communication. Fathom provides thought leadership strategy and content that delivers both depth and understanding for financial services and technology innovators.