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    #HelloHighlights: Blockchain Week 2019 In 16 Photos

    This month, leading crypto media company Coindesk partnered with the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) again to host the second annual Blockchain Week NYC. Industry stakeholders from over 100 countries convened throughout the city for a week of meetings and events, most notably Consensus, the blockchain technology summit presented by Coindesk.

    Hello! Hi! :)

    Lisa Chau / Via Private Collection
    Lisa Chau / Via Private Collection

    I kicked off my week of activities several days earlier at Norton Rose Fulbright, where Diversity in Blockchain announced the launch of its New York chapter.

    Diversity in Blockchain was incubated in MIT’s Legal Forum in conjunction with the MIT Media Lab. Tech pioneers: Joshua Ashley Klayman, Susan Joseph, Shawnna Hoffman, Anna Ashurov, and Michelle Gitlitz founded the non-profit organization to create open, equal and inclusive opportunities in the blockchain industry. Additional sponsorship was provided by Wolters Kluwer, Jones Day, and IBM.

    Speaker Mark Beylin remarked, "I'm not used to seeing so many women at a blockchain event... & I've been to many of them."

    Cleve Mesidor / Via Private Collection

    At the official start of Blockchain Week, I took my seat at the table for the inaugural Power Play BLunch co-hosted by Cleve Mesidor and Alethia Jackson.

    Fellow guest, CEO/Creative Director of Bettymedia and Founder of Cake & UX Bettinna Justinien was "honored I got a chance to discuss UX in Blockchain and how I've been working on mass adoption, as well as educating various communities and individuals on it. The event was inspirational, because all the women at the event from award-winning reporters to lawyers, educators to content creators, UX experts, founders, developers, and students were able to share their journey, their accomplishments and goals they wish to achieve in the crypto and blockchain space. Their use cases are important for what I do, so I can continue to educate the public and other business leaders about our industry. My Blockchain Week was fabulous, inspirational and informative."

    Richard Carbral / Via Private Collection

    “Women of color make up a significant portion of the current crypto ecosystem, building products and solutions on blockchain with minimal funding. And we will be the engine of the decentralized economy. I want to thank Coinbase for sponsoring the event and for supporting diversity and gender inclusion in such a bold manner,” said Cleve Mesidor, Founder of LOGOS and Former Obama Appointee.

    Founder Power Play concurred, "It was great to have so many dynamic women present at the Inaugural Power Play BLunch celebrating women of color in Blockchain. There is a noticeable shortage of women in this space and women of color are even more underrepresented. So it's important to help create a space and ecosystem where women can support each other."

    Lisa Chau / Via Private Collection

    On Sunday, I met Amanda Frankel, Candidate (D) for Congress, NY-10 during the launch of Womin’s Lounge, hosted by CKR Law LLP at Katana Kitten.

    Lisa Chau / Via Private Collection

    In speaking with other guests, most felt that enterprise had a larger presence and projects were more developed this year compared to last.

    I dropped by the Polymath Connect Lounge which boasted a day-long "Security Token Stampede" program of curated insights, trends, and industry forecasts.

    Lisa Chau / Via Private Collection

    Jimmy Song sighting! :)

    Lisa Chau / Via Private Collection

    LiskHQ CEO Max Kordek tweeted, "Last year every second person I spoke with at #Consensus2018 was an ‘investor’.

    This year at #Consensus2019 I have not met a single investor. Everyone is working on cool blockchain stuff.

    Simply an amazing conference. Great job @coindesk!"

    Lisa Chau / Via Private Collection

    One company is working to bring the DApp revolution to mainstream users by redefining how humans experience the blockchain.

    "Solving scalability will be a moot effort without solving usability as well. As the ecosystem gears up towards mainstream usage, it's important to make sure users enjoy an experience that is just as simple and good as web2 applications. Keep in mind that the average person isn't nearly as tech-savvy or motivated to use blockchain like today's early adopters," explained Portis Co-Founder & CEO Tom Teman.

    Lisa Chau / Via Private Collection

    Though the overall mood seemed more somber, the board at the Paxos Lounge showed that optimism has survived in the community.

    "Cryptocurrency and blockchain are more of improvements than legendary innovation. It’s great to see the whole profession become more calm and rational about solving real problems, though it’s certainly a long way from the production phase. I was really pleased to see academia and engineering throughout the conference -- Scholars improving the technology soundness, as economists figure out how this improves society, e.g. if it’s worth the human labor, electricity and other resources to mine the coins that are questionable to use on a wide scale with underlying economics and valuations that are hard to grasp. Hype for the innovation with trials and errors is the nature, so burning money is probably unpreventable. We probably won’t yet see a solution for a while, but I will keep watching with hope," said Youwei Yang, Applied Econ PhD student at Cornell University.

    Lisa Chau / Via Private Collection

    Personally, I was most interested in the Consensus Debate: Should I Be Allowed to Transact With Anyone? Modelled after Intelligence Squared or Oxford-style formats, the discussion addressed our ability to transact as a human right, on a public blockchain or elsewhere.

    As Jacob Donnelly wrote on Coindesk a month ago --

    "On one hand, the basic freedoms embedded into the value system of the post-Enlightenment world (speech, life, liberty, pursuit of happiness, etc.) revolve around the principle that these rights are inalienable. On the other hand, it can be argued, they are conditional upon meeting certain conditions or obligations to society.

    Where does transacting on a public blockchain fit on this spectrum? How is the ethos behind the early cypherpunks’ vision of bitcoin – the concept of transacting without need of a third-party intermediary that could potential censor or block the transaction – still relevant and applicable in today’s world?"

    Anderson Kill attorney Stephen Palley moderated the panel featuring:

    Amber Baldet, Co-Founder and CEO of Clovyr

    Yaya Fanusie, Senior Fellow, Foundation for Defense of Democracies

    Alex Gladstein, Chief Strategy Office, Human Rights Foundation

    Vinay Gupta, CEO, Mattereum

    Lisa Chau / Via Private Collection

    “The most important thing to understand about the cryptoeconomy is that we’re not simply righting the wrongs of finance 1.0. We’re creating an entirely new way to access financial services,” explained Coindesk CEO Brian Armstrong.

    "Blockchain week was exciting, you can feel the maturation of the ecosystem --

    Established brands poured into the market, big announcements, countless events, Microsoft making developers tools to improve adoption..." said Megan M. Cress, Codable Capital Founder and Managing Director. "Speaking with Golden Seeds, DLab, Rise, TechStars, Alchemist, countless funds and private investors want to put capital to work, yet there seems to be a shortage of companies with female founders. Investors certainly want to invest in diversity, I do too. I will be working to help support women's efforts who have interest in the space."

    Lisa Chau / Via Private Collection

    "The adoption of distributed ledger and blockchain technologies will be driven by corporations using the tech to take advantage of speed, cost, security, data flexibility and non-transmutability. Tokenized data will reside within closed systems which will power the same consumer interfaces we are all accustomed to on our browsers and mobile devices. Mass adoption of tokens by consumers and businesses is 3 to 5 years away, assuming tokens ever become consumer friendly," explained James Haft, Founder of PALcapital, a merchant bank focused on the decentralized economy. "The exception will be non-fungible tokens ("NFTs") which will become increasingly popular and valuable over the next 24 months, as games, art and other uses are introduced in increasingly appealing consumer and industry specific applications."

    Lisa Chau / Via Private Collection

    Blockchain Week would not be complete without endless parties. The Wooly got my vote for coolest venue. PALcapital won for classiest, at the Flatiron Room.

    Andra Roxana Stanciu / Via Private Collection

    I ended my Blockchain Week with Blue Orion Co-Founder Luke Carriere (right) at the Haiti Tech Summit Co-Hosted by Einstein Kofi Ntim (left) at SAP Next-Gen Innovation Space New York in Hudson Yards.

    Carriere said, "It was great to hear Fred Wilson say [at Consensus] that 90% of average people on the street don’t even know how to buy bitcoin, much less pay for their coffee in crypto. But that’s not the proper metric. As Brian Armstrong reiterated, crypto is most helpful at extreme ends of spectrum: cross border payments for the underbanked, and power users of high finance transferring millions daily. I’m starting a venture for the former and I’m heavily invested in STO infrastructure for the latter. That’s why I’m co-founding a venture based on Stellar network to serve the underbanked, and I’m invested in a crypto fund with an STO infrastructure thesis.”

    At his summit, Ntim reminded everyone that, "Tech is just a tool. Innovation is the real goal."

    Lisa Chau / Via Private Collection

    The incredible volatility of this industry will keep the blockchain community very, very busy into the foreseeable future. What are your predictions?

    Stay tuned for more of my adventures! :) #HelloHighlights

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