I have just returned from my exciting USA trip. This was no casual vacation, it was a business trip. I was very fortunate to find myself at the ETHDenver Festival, which truly impressed me with its large concentration of inspiring developers and founding teams who were gathered together to focus on blockchain-based projects from all over the world.
The festival featured a lot of well-known crypto activists and numerous large investors, making ETHDenver one the most influential annual events in the crypto calendar. Since the event plays a groundbreaking role in the development of the industry as a whole, I have decided to share my impressions of the event and inform my readers of what transpired during my trip.
What is ETHDenver?
To start with, I think it would be appropriate to give a brief description of the event, our topic for today, for those who are not familiar with it. Well, ETHDenver is basically the world’s largest Web3 community gathering that has been taking place in Denver, USA since 2018. ETHDenver can be described as a cross between a developer’s meeting and a party.
The first ETHDenver Festival in 2018 had 3,000 people in attendance and in the following year, the event attracted 4,500 enthusiasts, during the crypto market’s deep bear cycle. In 2020, right before the pandemic hit, the event drew in a little more than 6,000 individuals.
Then in 2021, the organizers were compelled to take a break due to Covid-19 restrictions but this year, ETHDenver was back and it exceeded all expectations, attracting over 12,000 people. This can be attributed to the fact that Ethereum’s price has grown by a factor of 10x, compared to its price back in 2020.
To put it succinctly, this is the perfect festival for any user interested in cryptocurrencies and for developers who specifically work with the Ethereum blockchain. Due to the fact that the event is visited by such a huge number of people, what better opportunity is there for prospective Ethereum-based startups to shine and enter the market? This is the kind of event that enables startups to get a real boost from both the community and from investors.
In addition, the core teams of various projects got to compete for more than a million dollars in prizes, which is also a pretty good incentive to attend this thrilling event. That is why I didn't hesitate for a second when deciding whether to go to the conference or not.
The unique atmosphere of ETHDenver
It is important to understand the vibe that reigns at this annual conference so I’d like to provide you with a little bit of context. In addition to the stage areas where speakers deliver their official speeches, a great many other activities take place.
For instance, you can get a relaxing massage that uses a unique crystal technique, you can meditate in specifically designated rooms, get generous handouts of featured projects’ merchandise, listen to DJ sets of “chill tunes'' on NFT-enabled sound systems and visit NFT art galleries.
Visitors also have access to an open bar lounge, coding zones where technicians can work, rows of bean bags that are literally perfect for taking a short nap after taking in some interesting guest presentations.
Aside from all this, there was a mini tequila-testing event for those who wanted to take the edge off, a crypto-powered poker tournament and a party.
To sum up, ETHDenver is not your typical conference where you might expect to see politicians, celebrities, huge crypto influencers along with international development teams, though these types of individuals were certainly all present.
ETHDenver is the largest event for the Ethereum community, where mainstream topics such as NFT, Web3, decentralized applications and DAOs are discussed, while offering people the chance to have some fun and get away from the everyday routine.
Informative AMA with Vitalik Buterin and an innovative concept
First thing after arriving at the ETHDenver event, I headed straight for the AMA held by the co-founder of the Ethereum network – Vitalik Buterin. I was indeed surprised by his mind-openness and the way he competently answered questions from an admiring audience.
After discussing the industry’s most pressing issues with the crowd, Vitalik presented a revolutionary concept called Digital State. The Russian-born Canadian programmer talked to the audience with glowing eyes about the idea of a virtual world that’s very similar to the well-known metaverse, but with a few little differences. I feel as though if we are to build a new world, it should be Vitalik that enlightens the international community on how to do that.
What’s more, he stated that ETHDenver is vital to the development of Web3, along with other sustainable and inclusive solutions in the crypto space. After an impressive speech from Vitalik Buterin, the audience gave the co-founder of ETH a standing ovation.
While we’re on the subject of Vitalik, I have to mention a hilarious stunt he pulled off when he showed up in a Bufficorn suit. Since he was bound to receive an enormous amount of attention at the conference, he decided to take matters into his own hands so that he could freely move around the event without being swamped.
Actually, I'm pretty sure that his little trick was as much about showing people that he doesn’t want to come across as anyone special, that he is just a regular guy, like any of us. This kind of goofiness was an endearing gesture from the co-founder, a statement that says he wants to be close to his fans, which I personally liked very much.
Web3 use cases in politics
Even though Andrew Yang was not on the official list of speakers, he paid a spontaneous visit to the ETHDenver event, which caused quite a buzz.
The former candidate for the U.S. presidential primaries and New York City mayoral primaries recently launched ‘Lobby3 DAO’. The premise of the newly-created project is that it is a “Web3 community [that’s] designed to give the people a stronger voice in Washington, D.C."
He passionately told the audience that citizens who buy DAO tokens with Ethereum can jointly engage with policy makers on issues ranging from financial inclusion and decentralized finance to poverty reduction.
The whole point of Andrew’s speech was to illustrate novel ways of using Web3 and blockchain technologies in different spheres of human activity, like politics.
The NYC mayor Eric Adams has announced an upcoming executive order out of the Biden administration that will supposedly be regulating the Web3 industry. At first, this may seem like a terrifying development, having the government getting involved in crypto-related activities but on other hand, it opens up unlimited opportunities for developers.
Actually, Andrew Yang was not the only politician at ETHDenver. Colorado Governor Jared Polis also showed up. While serving Congress during his time in office, he founded the Blockchain Caucus.
For the most part, he talked about how friendly and supportive the state of Colorado is in terms of the cryptocurrency movement. For instance, back in 2019, Polis officially approved a law known as the “Colorado Digital Token Act”. Colorado is also expected to start accepting cryptocurrency as a form of payment for taxes and drivers’ licenses in the summer 2022.
I had the chance to attend the talk of a well-known Ethereum researcher by the name of Danny Ryan. He dedicated his speech to the importance of transition to Proof-of-Stake.
Firstly, the researcher dove into various technical details concerning the essential processes in PoS. After that, he presented an illustrative comparison of Proof-of-Stake and Proof-of-Work, which left attendees in no doubt as to the superiority of the PoS consensus mechanism.
Environmentalism is on the rise
One more pretty gripping topic was brought up during this gathering of ETH fans and developers.
It is a well known fact to all serious crypto users that running a blockchain consumes a great deal of energy. For the last few years, experts have debated how bad it is for the environment.
Kevin Owocki, the founder of Gitcoin, spoke to the audience about the importance of switching over to green practices and adopting an environmentally-friendly approach en masse. He gave an outstanding performance and revealed some interesting eco-friendly ideas to the attendees of ETHDenver with great enthusiasm.
A good quote of his that stuck with me is: “We need to collectively take the green pill to create a more solar punk world.” I’m personally interested in an eco-friendly approach within the crypto industry, which is why his words had a powerful effect on me. I believe that this is just a small step towards regenerating the world using blockchain technology.
To wrap up my exciting business trip, I attended Evin McMullen’s talk that elaborated on self-sovereignty based on informed consent and privacy within the metaverse, which works like a personal data backpack that travels around with you across Web2 & Web3.
Generally, the concept of a decentralized identity is a pretty complicated topic to present but I won’t lie – Evin McMullen absolutely nailed it. She argued the case well that on-chain NFTs are definitely not a suitable solution for self-sovereign identity within the metaverse.
Your identity is not something that should be publicly accessible by internet- users, like your Ethereum address is, for instance. Evin talked about off-chain verifiable credentials forming your decentralized identity and being used in the virtual world.
From my standpoint, this is an interesting idea based in logic and could potentially become a mainstream solution used all across metaverse projects within the industry.
Chasing a bigger idea
What I also found interesting was how the majority of speakers emphasized the fact that they are not just in it to make a profit out of the Ethereum community. On the contrary, they are bringing their global ideas to the masses in order to popularize NFTs and DAOs, thereby setting a trend for generations to come.
These individuals are laying down solid ground so that newcomers, users and developers can revolutionize this fast-growing sector for the better. It is good to see people focusing on more than just material wealth, pursuing benevolent philosophies and spreading a message of integrity and high moral values and principles.
As I have already alluded to, in addition to all of these offerings, ETHDenver provides actual financial support to prospective projects. Here are the results of the 2022 Bounty Program, a list of the biggest winners this year.
HARMONY – $50,000
Harmony is a new-generation blockchain that runs Ethereum applications with 2-second transaction finality and 1,000 times lower fees. Harmony can boast secure bridges and high-scalability.
BALANCER LABS – $50,000
Balancer is an open-source protocol, an automated portfolio manager, liquidity provider and decentralized exchange. Balancer gives users access to revolutionary solutions and aims to become the primary source of DeFi liquidity by providing the most flexible and powerful platform for programmable liquidity.
REEF – $50,000
Reef is building Reef Chain, a DeFi blockchain built using Substrate Framework. Reef Chain has high scalability that enables instant and affordable transactions. The founding team of the project strives to make it easy for everyone to invest in and build DeFi, NFT and gaming applications on the Reef Chain.
VEGA PROTOCOL – $30,000
Vega is a one-of-a-kind open protocol for creating flexible derivatives, allowing any blockchain to plug into it and leverage its wide range of unique features, including high throughput, instant settlement and low-fee trading capabilities.
Summing up, ETHDenver is not just about serious men talking about various innovations and claiming that one day they will change the whole world. Not really. This festival is an enchanting event for all crypto lovers who have a strong desire to have some fun at crazy parties, get to know some like-minded people, expand their network and feel the power of the community.
It is also the perfect place for broadening one’s worldview and expanding one’s expertise in certain areas. ETHDenver definitely sets the standard for how crypto gatherings and conferences should look and more importantly ‘feel’. The impressions and emotions we had the privilege to experience were certainly unique.
This is an event that everyone should experience at least once in their life. So what are you waiting for? Get on with booking your tickets and join me next year at the ETHDenver Festival!
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