Thoughts from a Bitcoin Conference

What is hype vs. reality in the crypto and web3 world?

7 min readJan 20, 2022


I remember coming across Bitcoin back in 2011 at a startup event in NYC. Someone mentioned it in passing to me as this thing you “mine” on a computer and create a “currency” from scratch. He seemed quite excited about it. I thought he sounded unhinged.

The next day I checked it out. The price of Bitcoin was about $1 USD at the time. It did not seem obvious how to acquire any Bitcoin though, so I ignored it. Even as the price soared to $30 that year, I was completely oblivious to this rise. I simply did not see any utility in owning Bitcoin.

I was in Hong Kong in 2016 when I crossed paths with the crypto world again. A friend introduced me to one of his friends that was heading over to a crypto meetup. He had gotten excited about the idea of minting your own coins and getting in on ICO’s, or Initial Coin Offerings. One of the key people that was involved in Ethereum was going to be at the meetup, so I tagged along to check out the event.

Walking into the meetup felt like I stepped into an alternate universe. I expected a typical tech gathering with a bunch of computer nerds. Instead it a motley collection of hustlers, entrepreneurs, day traders, multi-level marketers, and others that did not seem to have real jobs. They did however talk my ear off about the future of crypto and why it would change the world.

The space for the meetup was large by Hong Kong standards, and it was filled to capacity. I stayed for about half the panel discussion until I had heard enough of the new world utopian vision being sold by the speakers. I had expected some substance. Instead it was just a pitch to scam others into getting in on the latest hot ICO.

My impression of ICO’s and much of the crypto world after the meetup was that it was a haven for grifters and criminals. Much of the news about ICO scams in the subsequent years confirmed by initial thoughts. I was intrigued by the journey of Bitcoin though and figured out how to acquire some, mostly as an experiment. I then promptly forgot about it as I started a new job at Stack Overflow.

Fast forward six years later and I found myself attending a crypto conference this week of my own…