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    #HelloHighlights: Blockchain Week In 13 Photos

    Leading crypto media company Coindesk partnered with the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) to host the inaugural Blockchain Week NYC this month. During this period, Coindesk presented its blockchain technology summit, Consensus. Featuring over 250 speakers, the anchor event drew upwards of 8,000 attendees from more than 70 countries -- A massive increase from the prior year’s count of 2,000. Media outlets that sent reporters included: American Banker, Business Insider, Bloomberg, CNBC, Entrepreneur, Esquire, Forbes, Financial Times, Fortune, Handelsblatt, MarketWatch, New York Post, Quartz, The Economist, The New York Times (NYT), The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), Thomson Reuters. My highlights of the week below, with extensive comments from new connections in the crypto community:

    Hello! Hi! :)

    Lisa Chau / Via Private Collection
    Blockchain Tech Summit / Via Private Collection

    My team kicked off Blockchain Week a day early at Blockchain Tech Summit, co-organized by Forbes 30 Under 30 Christine Souffrant. VP of Marketing at Lampix Gordon Meyer (holding microphone) spoke on the panel: Tour of Top Stories and Global Breakthroughs: Role of Media with (left to right):

    Leah Jonas (Moderator), Director of Client Services for Celsius

    Menajem Benchimol, Co-founder of LATAM Blockchain Group

    Jeff Koyen, President of 360 Blockchain USA

    Gordon Meyer, VP of Marketing for Lampix

    Jules Miller, Practice Manager for IBM Blockchain Garage

    “The media is having a really tough time wrapping their heads around [blockchain] use cases,” explained Meyer. “That discussion is happening -- I think we’ll know when it really has transitioned when regular folks say, “My life is better because of this particular use case.’ Whatever that use case may be. We’re not there, yet.”

    Blockchain Tech Summit / Via Private Collection

    I (standing) moderated the panel, Female Pioneers of Blockchain - The New Frontier with (left to right):

    Susan Oh, Founder of MKR AI and Chair of AI for the UN GA Blockchain for Impact

    Ayesha Kiani, Managing Director at Republic Crypto

    Stephanie Vaughan, Vice President at Block X Ventures

    Leah, Feuer, Group Product Manager for Consensys

    "I was so honored to be included on a panel of accomplished women representing a breath of positions and experience. It's so important for those of in the positions to do so, to show that the industry does not have to be male dominated," said Vaughan.

    Intercoin / Via Private Collection

    I met Intercoin Media Director Felipe Bayan during the networking break after my panel with Oh (center), who remarked that Consensus is “the biggest crypto/blockchain event in NYC for the year."

    Intercoin CEO Greg Magarshak agreed, “Consensus brought together the largest number of people and companies in the crypto space I have ever seen at one event. It made me realize how much interest there is around the world in distributed ledger technology beyond the blockchain.

    The crypto space continues to grow and attract a lot of promising new projects, and there is a lot of opportunity to work with each other and help the space as a whole leap forward.”

    Intercoin Advisor Edward Kierans said, “From the Intercoin viewpoint what we did see there that seemed to imply that era of decentralized groups is going to be the norm.”

    Lampix Demand Generation Director Chris Cunniffe / Via Private Collection

    Lisa Chau (center) with Blockchain Tech Summit co-Founders, Einstein Ntim (left) and Christine Souffrant (right).

    “The contributions of 50 global speakers for the launch of this summit has been amazing,” Souffrant said. “As one of the few female organizers for summits on blockchain, I’m excited and looking forward to launching the world’s first Blockchain digital accelerator this fall.”

    Lisa Chau / Via Private Collection

    The Williamsburg Hotel presented Party On The Block to kickoff Blockchain Week on Saturday in Brooklyn with hosts Byzantine, Futurism, Startup Grind, Dispatch Labs, Futurism, Blockchain for Good, 25 Kent and the Bushwick Generator. (Far left) Director of Blockchain at Sinopharm Michael Joshua Johnson explained, “New York City was about everything the future holds -- The good, bad and ugly. As I look for future innovation, I try to sift through the 1% that can add value to the current projects in China. This is a mixture of centralized, decentralized and distributed, finding balance is key because I always say anything good, taken to the extreme, can be bad.”

    Lisa Chau / Via Private Collection

    On Sunday, Vets in Blockchain gathered in the Hilton Hotel’s Presidential Suite (left to right):

    Donnie Benjamin, Special Assistant and Advisor to the founder of ConsenSys

    Stephanie Vaughan, Vice President at Block X Ventures

    Chad Arroyo, Chief Marketing Officer of Seven Stars Cloud Group

    Hector Rosekrans, Director of Policy and Operations at Messari

    “Veterans have a unique skill set that encompasses an ability to deal with ambiguity and extreme pressure. Blockchain requires the same,” said Vaughan. “Hector, Chad, Donnie and I had been in touch for a while and supportive of each other in the space, so we decided to expand our network together.”

    “This was my first time at Consensus, and it was inspiring to connect with so many people excited about blockchain, crypto assets, and the future of open finance. My favorite part was the constant (and sometimes sharp) exchange of ideas. Jimmy Song v. Joe and Amber was the most public example, but throughout the week people were talking about scalability v. security, regulation v. self governance, is v. ought, and how we as an industry move the ball forward,” noted Rosekrans. “These are potentially trillion-dollar questions and there will be big winners and losers, but the number of people committed to asking [such questions] and challenging the current answers gives the industry an incredibly bright future.”

    Lisa Chau / Via Private Collection

    CTO of Rightory & USMC Veteran David Wharton added, “It was exciting to see that many smaller technical components needed for our back end (at Rightory) are already working in the marketplace. For example, a working smart contracts engine (OpenLaw) and a working Identity management solution (ShoCard). After this week, if I hear an ICO / Blockchain company saying they are ‘building something from the ground up’ I can tell you it doesn’t make sense. It is a waste of time and resources, and won’t speed up your time to market. Use the ecosystem to your advantage, particularly solutions that are proven and are working.”

    Lisa Chau / Via Private Collection

    I attended two extremely well-attended diversity luncheons hosted by Accenture. It’s great that established companies are already putting significant effort into supporting inclusivity and social impact in such a new industry. There was an emphasis on lives, not just moving data digitally.

    “I am impressed with the caliber of multidisciplinary talent in attendance at Consensus. I met dozens of entrepreneurs and investors who realize the importance of harnessing the potential of this momentum to make the world a place where humans can thrive,” said PBS Next Avenue Top 50 Influencer in Aging Amanda Cavaleri. “Impact PPA is a great example -- The organization combines complimentary ages and backgrounds to form teams which bring renewable energy into emerging markets where people most likely do not have access to traditional banking and live a pay-as-you-go life.”

    Blockchain investor & entrepreneur Stephanie R. Nickolich concurred, “My biggest takeaway was connecting with Impact PPA and learning of their initiative to utilize blockchain and renewable energy to provide jobs to 50,000,000 Indian women. These are the type of initiatives that feed my soul. It was an absolutely incredible experience, truly exhilarating! The community, the conversations and the connections will never be forgotten. The energy was off the charts!”

    Lisa Chau / Via Private Collection

    With George A. Popescu (left), Founder of Lampix and Block X Ventures.

    The timing of Consensus was excellent because it dovetailed with my company’s announcement that we would be launching a new website for PIX tokens, and we enabled the ability to purchase Lampix with PIX tokens. Currently, very few tokens are tied to physical products and even fewer can be used for purchase.

    “While this was my first time attending the Coindesk Consensus conference, I doubt it will be my last. It was great to see such a large number of professionals in the industry (about 8,500!) but was disappointed that the venue really struggled to hold many more people than they had planned for,” said NowSourcing President and Blockchain Israel Board Member Brian Wallace. “I was surprised to see the amount of enterprise buy-in -- Projects from Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, Goldman's Circle and IBM's Hyperledger. I've been searching and hopeful for blockchain projects that solve real world problems such as Streamr, which provides an open source platform for real-time data monetization and exchange.”

    I met COO of Verlocal Luis Gil at General Assembly during Block Tank hosted by Hydrogen. “There was a lot more institutional presence at Consensus this year than in years past, which is a testament to the magnitude of blockchain technology's importance going forward,” he noted. Unlike other non-blockchain technical conferences to which I've been, people seemed genuinely excited to be there. I don't think the organizers realized just how popular this year's conference was going to be; it was almost uncomfortable to walk around as it was so crowded!”

    Lisa Chau / Via Private Collection

    “I loved being in New York around so many bright people in the space. It was an incredible week. A lot of big things are happening and I'm looking forward to the future. I remember when the first pizza was paid for with Bitcoin!” -- ICO Consultant JC Crown

    Lisa Chau / Via Private Collection

    Clearly, I invested a great deal of time meeting and speaking with people in the blockchain community, many I first interacted with in virtual crypto treehouses and clubhouses located in messaging app Telegram. Although, I had attended a hackathon sponsored by Deloitte during Consensus 2016, this year’s conference was much more comprehensive for me. And truly overwhelming. In a good way.

    Australian Co-Founder Leah Callon-Butler wrote, ”Many people joke that the crypto world is moving so fast, it feels like a whole ‘crypto year’ is equivalent to one week in the ‘real world’."

    There was an overload of information, people and events. Perpetual presentations during the day, and parties every night.

    Personally, I absolutely loved Blockchain Capital Venture Partner Jimmy Song on stage with Consensys Founder Joseph Lubin. Moderated by former head of blockchain projects at JP Morgan Amber Baldet, the two men debated their vision of a decentralized internet built on the intersection of market forces, cryptography and engineering. Lubin bet Song any amount of bitcoin that Song is wrong that most projects built today will cease to exist in five years. "Blockchain is not going to solve all your problems for you," Song argued. "Blockchain is not this magical thing where you sprinkle blockchain dust over a problem." Many companies using blockchain technology don’t need it.

    For the second to last fireside chat of the conference, Wall Street Journal Reporter Paul Vigna, moderated a calmer discussion between Coinbase CTO Balaji S. Srinivasan and Union Square Ventures Partner Fred Wilson.

    According to Srinivasan, the growth of augmented reality & virtual reality, means we'll be spending even more time in the digital matrix, and we’ll need a virtual currency to do so.

    Everyone at the conference seemed to agree that there is a steep learning curve to climb, as discussed during the panel, On-Chain Financial Products & Services. “We're still really early. How do we get more educated? We need to realize a deeper level... The technology is not understood enough [but] as soon as the infrastructure gets built, we're going to see a mega-trend of security coins coming to market like we've never seen.”

    In the final fireside chat of the conference, Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey told Lightning Lab CEO Elizabeth Stark that “We can't just wait for things to happen to us. We have to help make them happen. We have to do the work to educate regulators and educate the SEC about this technology… There is a lot of work to make this become what it can become.”

    Lisa Chau / Via Private Collection

    Chief Risk Officer (CRO) and Cofounder of Stranger Labs Lindsay Nuon said, “While there were clearly areas for improvement I feel the positive aspects of Consensus have been vastly understated. The sheer number of people in attendance across multiple disciplines, countries, and backgrounds engaging with one another to develop solutions to some extremely challenging issues is undeniable; therein lies such an opportunity for progress. Let’s not waste it on negativity - contribute, criticize constructively, and collaborate.”

    “The entire week was highlighted with a lot of new prospective blockchain startups who have raised a lot of funds via ICO. I felt the takeaway from this conference is the community is very actively trying to solve the challenges which would pioneer blockchain in everyday business. We are not far from the future. The internet definitely has its native currency and it will grow from this point to a new form of economy,” said Xeniapp Founder Sachin Narode.

    One of the reasons I am excited to be a part of this industry is the opportunity to evolve with it as it grows from infancy. I am super excited for its future. Like Dorsey, I believe “This technology advances all of us.”

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

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