A recap of my time at NFT NYC

Parker Jay-Pachirat
November 09, 2021

Hi everyone, Parker here. It’s been a fun morning with the $ENS airdrop. Vote in my poll on whether you plan to hold or sell here. In other news... I’ve finally recovered from NFT NYC. What a week! Find my recap of the panels, the parties, and the people below.

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In case you’re new here or didn’t check Twitter last week, NFT NYC is a four-day conference self-described as “the leading annual non-fungible token event”. The wider NFT community has described the event as “Crypto Coachella'' and “Woodstock for NFTs”. While that might conjure images of desert landscapes or rolling fields, don’t be mistaken- the event was held across four venues in Times Square. 

And yes, all four venues were necessary. In 2019, the event had just 460 attendees. Over 5,000 people attended the conference this year, with 3,000 more people on the waitlist for a ticket. To my surprise, the entire conference was only organized by four people. Notable attendees included Beeple, the artist behind the most expensive NFT ever, director Quentin Tarantino, YouTuber Logan Paul, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian. Celebrities and pop stars performed at satellite events like the Bored Ape Yacht Club party, which was held on a literal yacht, and featured The Strokes, Lil Baby, Beck, Chris Rock, Aziz Ansari, and Questlove.

The Panels

I agree with Gottsegen’s take that many of the panels at NFT NYC were “light on substance”. Some of them might be compared to a viral thought-leader Twitter thread containing a few sparkles of wisdom here and there, but that overall is pretty lackluster. Still, I really enjoyed a few panels and learned a lot from them (especially on gaming, community-building, and NFT investment strategy). I’d actually argue that the fluffiness of some panels could be attributed to an organizational design flaw, rather than the panelists themselves. Most panels lasted 15-20 minutes- the rough equivalent of a college freshman’s class presentation. According to panelists I talked to, there were internal flaws as well- schedules were shifted around last minute and multiple times, many co-panelists were a no-show, and some panelists were asked to buy time at the end of their talk without warning. These panels were also hosted simultaneously across three different venues, making it impossible to be on time for panels in a different venue. To me, this seems like a classic case of “growing pain”. After all, scaling from 460 to 5,000 attendees in one year* *(excluding Covid) is no small feat. 

The Parties

Okay, obviously. We all know what conferences are really about, right?! I went to some awesome events last week. Here’s a quick recap of my top 4.

1. BoysClub Inaugural Dinner 

BoysClub is a “no-bro zone” dinner series designed for crypto-curious women and non-binary people. BoysClub was founded last month by two incredible women, Natasha and Daena. I connected with Natasha and Daena about a month ago when I discovered their immaculate and hilarious BoysClub Instagram, which does things like explaining cryptocurrencies as Reformation pieces and defining crypto in the context of the Kardashian universe

At BoysClub, mutual learning is encouraged, and no question is a stupid question. BoysClub kicked off their inaugural dinner series this past Wednesday, and I had the pleasure of attending. Demand was high. Daena and Natasha started with the intention to host a small beta with about 12 people, but that quickly snowballed. They sold out those initial 12 tickets the day of launch. Then, they added 25 more, which sold out the next day. The waitlist for BoysClub continued growing until an hour before the event itself!

Founders Natasha (left), and Daena (right), at the BoysClub inaugural dinner

After a few days at NFT NYC, walking into a room of women was incredibly refreshing. It was energizing and inspiring to see women (from such a diverse array of backgrounds!) taking the initiative to start their crypto journey together. Most of the women I spoke to were complete newbies (some had never even heard of Ethereum!) which was awesome to see. Natasha and Daena did an amazing job putting this event together and designing a complementary educational roadmap. I'm so excited about this initiative, and can't wait for the next dinner in the series.

2. Unsolicited Airdrop

Unsolicited Airdrop was hosted by a few friends towards the end of the conference. Hosted in Williamsburg, the intimate event showcased the work of 16 NFT artists work, including short films, video sculpture, generative art, and experimental animations. The event also featured a discussion with Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, and Elizabeth Stark, founder of Lightning Labs. Jimmy and Elizabeth compared the early days of Wikipedia to NFT’s current moment, also exploring in their conversation the early internet, creator economies, and digital scarcity. It was a delightful and thought-provoking evening.

Jimmy Wales & Elizabeth Stark at Unsolicited Airdrop

3. Coinbase x Matter Bank Vault

This was hands down the coolest venue of the week. In collaboration with Coinbase, Matter Vault hosted a party in a 117-year-old bank, repurposing Dime Savings Bank (and its hidden bank vault) into the first vault used for physical NFT storage. 

Inside the bank. I was having too much fun inside the vault to take a photo of it.

4. Universe.XYZ & Monstercat

This was a good time. Kaskade played. We raved. I saw Ezra Miller in VIP.

The People

Overall, NFT NYC was a pretty interesting crowd. In many ways, it was a stark contrast to the crowd I saw both at Bitcoin Miami and Messari Mainnet. Most people at NFT NYC were quite young. They were also significantly more casual- I definitely saw some teenage boys (???). The registration line for the conference could’ve been copy/pasted into a SoHo Supreme drop line and no one would bat an eye… and the thought, ‘If I see one more dude wearing a Bored Ape Yacht Club hoodie, I’m going to gauge my eyes out’ rang through my head multiple times a day. Snarkiness aside, just like at Bitcoin Miami and Messari Mainnet, it was imminently clear how few women are in the space. I don’t think there’s just one reason for this- or one solution.

That said, I think top-of-funnel could be a great place to start. With the incredible demand for all-women crypto onboarding, education, and community programs like SheFi (check out our interview with founder Maggie Love here) and BoysClub, it’s clear there’s a massive opportunity for impact in creating onboarding programs designed by, and for, women. I’m excited to see more all-women crypto onboarding initiatives in the space. I’d also love to learn about ones I’m unaware of- let me know via email or Twitter DM who I should know!

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