When 8,400 Bitcoiners Went to a Hilton to Talk About the Future

Consensus acts as a “barometer” for the industry. What might the largest ever in-person cryptocurrency event, in 2018, say about today’s markets?

If you’re bored of attending events like Consensus over Zoom and wish we could all meet in person, be careful what you wish for. Think back to 2018, when Consensus was held at its traditional venue at a Hilton on Sixth Avenue in Manhattan. By all accounts, it was mayhem. That was the year Consensus had its largest attendance (a reported 8,400), when attendees struggled to get to the second-floor registration area (because of a crush at the bottom of the stairs) and Decred’s giant Stakey man-puppet dominated the exhibition area. The New York Times commissioned a photo essay titled “When Thousands Filled a Hilton Ballroom to Ponder the Future of Bitcoin.”

“It’s a barometer for the industry,” Jacob Donnelly, one of the organizers of Consensus 2018, said in an interview. “We were coming off the ICO (initial coin offering) boom. Bitcoin had hit $20 K. People who were obscure were suddenly in the New York Times,” he said.

“When an industry is ripe like that – and to be clear, my suspicion is the industry is like that right now – there’s a certain exuberance,” he said. (Donnelly is now at the newsletter-based media startup MorningBrew.)


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