It’s been a fun week for the business media after the extraordinary turnout for Consensus in New York, part of the wider Blockchain Week hosted by the city. With around 8,500 attendees, it was one of the biggest blockchain events ever held.
But rather than focus on the fact that thousands of people came together to celebrate the rapid maturation of a new technology, the mainstream business press seemed determined to seek out negative angles to counter the overwhelming sense of excitement.
On the opening day of Consensus, Bloomberg led the charge – leading with a story on rented Lamborghinis. It could have been an interesting piece by Lily Katz, but she delved only inches deep, offering little insight beyond the notion that Bitcoin hype is alive and well. It was the headline that really made her story: ‘At NYC’s Big Crypto Conference, the Lamborghinis Are Rented and Protests Are Staged’. The implication – that the industry is hollow – is hard to miss.
CNBC carried the same story. Like Bloomberg, they couldn’t bring themselves to refer to blockchain, which was the theme of Consensus. They referred to the “bitcoin conference” in their headline. CoinDesk, the hosts, refer to it as a “blockchain technology summit” on their website.
An Important Article That Overlooks An Important Point
The Wall St Journal published an indictment of the ICO industry to coincide with the positive vibe. Their article noted that many ICOs are scams, and that many pose threats to investors.
It’s an important piece, especially when it discusses the lack of transparency vis-à-vis ICO team members. And it happened to feature quotes from Nuno Correia, who heads up UTRUST. During the run-up to the UTRUST ICO I personally tried to confirm Mr. Correia’s identity and found it almost impossible – he had hidden or refused to divulge virtually all information about himself. Of the few details he shared, some were exaggerated, including his ‘background in law’ – which turned out to be in college. That article, to which I contributed, was subtitled “A concerning lack of transparency and experience“. (To his credit, Mr. Correia has clearly worked hard to build and improve UTRUST since then – as well as his LinkedIn profile.)
Perhaps the Wall Street Journal’s writers might have found a more positive role model for transparency.
An Unimportant Article That Overlooked Any Point At All
Forbes published an article by Jason Bloomberg about the “echo chamber” which raised the hyperbole to the moon. “The problem: most of the noise around both blockchain and crypto is little more than the community talking to itself – a massive ‘echo chamber’ that in its final analysis promises no lasting business value for its participants.”
So says Mr. Bloomberg, who does not own, and does not intend to own, any cryptocurrency tokens. Mr Bloomberg had much to say about something he clearly knows little about: on VeChain (which he spells Vechain) he muses that the company is “selling shovels during the gold rush”.
VeChain, it should be noted, is a highly-respected three-year old blockchain company that has partnerships and trials with BMW, PWC, DNV GL, Louis Vuitton’s parent company, Kuehne & Nagel, and many others. It has a market capitalization of over $2.3bn at the time of writing.
Mr. Bloomberg, it seems, could definitely use a shovel, since his research can only be described as execrable.
Blah Blah Blah Bitcoin Bros
And so it went. Fortune carried another tired Bloomberg story about Lamborghinis and crypto bros, which would be entirely unremarkable but for the outraged tone over “rags-to-riches crypto traders with something to prove” which was clearly on display as “posts on social media show party goers dancing to electronic music, watching inspirational videos about crypto…”
Dancing, electronic music, inspirational videos! Whatever next? (Oh, and “diamond-clad rappers” make an appearance in this story too. At least I now know that when my stint as editor at Crypto Briefing comes to an end in 25 years, I can apply for a job at the Bloomberg Home For Outraged Old White Male Journalists.)
My Experience Of Consensus
We all know that there are ICO scams out there. We all know regulation is imminent and important. We all know that some companies will make it, some will not.
What I saw at Consensus was not a group of people who were focusing on the negative. The people I met with were all, without exception, enthusiastic and positive about this emerging technology.
They weren’t all realistic. Moonshots usually aren’t. Many will fail, some more rapidly than others. Yes, a few were there for the money… but some were down-to-earth and humble.
But the clear implication from the stories I’ve chosen to highlight here is that we – the blockchain community – are mindless, greedy, and foolish. And that simply isn’t true.
Anyone who was there knows the real story. We’re still the pioneers. The writers who disclose that they have no cryptocurrency and NO INTENTION of getting any, are the real fools – because they’re openly admitting that they cannot adapt to a revolution in technology.
The business media can continue to bash the crypto community, but it won’t change the fact that this is happening, it’s happening now, and it’s not about changing the future – it’s about living through the experience of building it.
And the more they caricature us, the less likely this community is to engage with their publications when the industry matures, and they need our numbers for their ad views.
We’ll find something else to read.
The author is proudly invested in several cryptocurrencies and blockchain companies, including Bitcoin which is mentioned in this article.