CoinCentral at SXSW 2022: A Petri Dish with a Web3 Ecosystem

South by Southwest is a mix of multiple disciplines. A three-mile radius around the Austin Conference Center is transforming the city into a confluence of technology, art, music, film and culture – and crypto and web3 have seemingly made their way everywhere.

As such, we got a snippet of everything — including late-night DAO concerts and parties, NFT art galleries in warehouses that double as house music venues, to tech-focused afternoon panels hosted in Rainey Street takeovers, where some of crypto’s brighter minds competed in a Sisyphean competition with live country and rock music a few doors down in the takeover of the Fort Worth home.

The only thing that wasn’t marred by crypto fingerprints was a panel on psychedelics with leading researchers and Tim Ferriss. The psychedelics and crypto industries tend to stick to their own professional ecosystems, although their participants may dabble in both.

All of this, of course, has the usual Austin SXSW warranties:

totally remote teams making first IRL impressions amid the perils of open bars, techies getting acquainted with the curb via Lime scooter, enveloping lines for brand activations, Uber peak prices, metabolic slumps after ungodly amounts of barbecue and tacos, weekday crowds barhopping still adorned with SXSW laniards and enough free energy drinks to make your frontal lobe twitch.

Despite the ubiquitous chaos, everything flows† SXSW has built its reputation as such since its inception in 1987.

CoinCentral was on site to explore: Do crypto and web-3 work well in a vertical pillar for events like SXSW?

SXSW 2022 vs. SXSW 2022

we have covered SXSW in 2022, the year following a crypto winter in which a precipitous drop in cryptocurrency prices forced many new crypto startups to close shop. Although financially turbulent, the crypto winter is considered by many to be the cold shower the industry needed to focus on the innovation that matters.

As Gemini founders, Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss noted in their 2022 SXSW talk that “crypto winter” was a good time to build.

There was no in-person SXSW for 2022 or 2022, so this was the event’s first year.

The cryptocurrency industry has since boomed, with Bitcoin’s price quadrupling from its previous record, an explosion in DeFi activity (DeFi Summer 2022), and a Renaissance for NFTs and web3.

How was the 2022 SXSW crypto crowd’s street heartbeat different from 2022’s?

“For starters, every conference over the past year has turned into some sort of web-3 event,” said Troy Osinoff, co-founder of Surplus† “From Art Basel to SXSW, cryptocurrencies – primarily NFTs and other web3 extensions – are no longer limited to niche exchanges.”

Builders will build

If the 2022 SXSW crypto track was built around a core of builders who were in crypto before 2017, the 2022 crypto crowd included more next-generation innovators and nouveau-richs.

Now, while our review of crypto at SXSW includes a lot of playful jabs on cryptocurrency in general (some well-deserved ones), we remain inspired by this industry. tThe speed of innovation (+ capital) and a spirit of goodwill are native to the cryptocurrency ecosystem (hence WAGMI).

“Old” cryptocurrency is in its third, fourth and fifth crypto chapter, building the next project or advising new entrepreneurs.

The people who cast large long-term confidence votes have been able to realize the benefits; think early Bitcoin, CryptoPunk, Ethereum holders. Many of them swing young too — some, to add to their luck and fortune, haven’t even started getting gray hairs (maybe another bear market will change that.)

These people don’t usually “abandon” crypto – they try to grow their fortunes by navigating the complex crypto web of projects and investment opportunities that only those with deep industry experience are able to do with any degree of efficiency or focus

However, a new era of builders could quickly yield fortunes; for example, many holders of Bored Ape Yacht Cluba project that started in April 2022 now has multi-million dollar NFT portfolios.

The experience and satisfying intoxication of building a fortune by being right about something that has been ridiculed by the vast majority of people is a merit shared by much of crypto old and new money.

While the carpet is pulling and crypto-plaguing hacks are sure to make headlines, the seamless ongoing collaboration between new industry players and veterans is a moral victory that is not often discussed.

“Hey, I’m catgangfart93 on Discord, nice to meet you in person”

As a decentralized amoeba loosely connected by Discord servers, Telegram chats, and collectively owned, NFT communities tend to inherently lack a palpable personal dynamism. In a sense, SXSW was sort of an offsite business for several NFT communities.

The project organized events of different production and sophistication.

The most comprehensive NFT event was a toss-up between: scribbles and Fluff World

  1. Doodles transformed a warehouse into a Doodle world, an abundance of rainbows, noodles and a variety of quirky things from the Doodle brand. It also featured stations hosted by derivative projects, such as the Noodles, which had a ramen noodle booth. The daytime event had a line that wrapped around the building.
  2. A few blocks away, Fluff World held a nightly mini music festival in multiple dome tents.

“One of the most lyrical executions was the simplest,” he says” Mike Kriak, Managing Operating Partner at Consensys Mesh. †Pussy Riots performance to launch UnicornDAO, which she developed as stewards. UnicornDAO’s mission is to empower women and LGBTQ+ NFT performers; and it was great to see such an on-brand DAO event in a really fun real-world event. †

Other projects had a mediocre appearance in comparison; Cool Cats had a tiny pizza party that was reminiscent of a low-cost high school after-school club party, but maybe that’s part of the community’s charming appeal.

It will be interesting to see how a physical personal NFT event affects the asset floor price.

Doodles bottom price went from about 11.5 ETH prior to SXSW to 17.62 ETH after the event – a jump of about $20,000 per Doodle. Cool Cats bottom price didn’t really change much, dropping 1.5 ETH before returning to around 9 ETH.

Crypto at SXSW kept many of the key “builder” elements of the quieter crypto days, but also introduced the world to the many different personal uses of NFTs – from NFT music releases, personal events, mainstream panels to web 3 innovation, and various developer meetings throughout the city.

The ongoing NFT hype is often compared to that of the ICO craze in 2017, where a dizzying array of new coins and tokens attracted investors and speculators alike. However, NFTs differ in one important way: the authenticity of the community extends beyond what we saw in 2017.

Some representations of the NFT community share similarities with the ICO craze of packaged lambos, guerrilla marketing campaigns where obscure project QR codes are plastered on every lamppost, and the like. But that should infer that the core of the movement seems much more subdued than that of the equation.

However, two broader trends remained apparent from both years:

  1. The “I missed crypto, it’s too late now” archetype is still there, only applied to NFTs and other emerging projects.
  2. The space is bursting at the seams with ideas, but there is a shortage of operators.

We look forward to seeing cryptocurrency’s presence at multi-themed conferences like SXSW grow, but we hope it will be done in a sustainable way that moves closer to the true value of cryptocurrency rather than speculation.

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