This week, I found myself at a New York City rooftop party with crypto enthusiasts.
The DJs were two non-expendable tokens from the Bored Ape Yacht Club, created by Boston’s Big Night Entertainment Group and animated on a big screen. The dancers had NFT images on their outfits. There was an aerial acrobat and someone walking with a snake.
Most people were in town for NFT.NYC, a 15,000-person conference designed to celebrate the industry. Crypto conferences of this size and extravagance they tend to occur in cities like New York, Miami and Austin, but not in Boston so far.
The event that I was at last lasted until the early hours of the morning. Over loud electronic music, people talked about what led them to crypto. and exchanged contact information through Telegram, a messaging service that is popular within the community.
For outsiders, including investment bankers who arrived in suits only to be surrounded by T-shirts and baseball caps, the vibes might have been a bit off-putting.
In recent weeks, cryptocurrencies have crashed. The NFT market has been losing value this year. (The NFT DJs who “performed” at the party have lost about 75 percent of their value since Big Night bought them last fall for nearly half a million dollars.)
But the crypto crowd is known for its relentless optimism. This week there were few signs that the market in a tailspin had dampened the mood.
The conference took place in various hotels in Times Square, as well as at Radio City Music Hall. Backers included Coinbase, which last week said it would lay off almost a fifth of its staff.
“It’s amazing to see everyone here,” said Michael Krilivisky, who founded a company that allows people to buy NFTs without crypto. He noted that the conference “was planned before the market crashed,” looking at a room full of people who paid between $599 and $1,999 to be there.
Speakers discussed “Meaningful Use of NFTs in Healthcare” and “Revolutionizing the Future of Work with NFTs.” Startups filled the halls of the Marriott Marquis: I heard about a decentralized autonomous organization (called “DAO” in crypto business parlance) for pet insurance and a digital picture frame people could buy to display NFTs.
When asked about the macro environment, many went back to common answers. They explained that it is still the “early days” or that a recession is the best time to “build.”
Only sometimes did the positive outlook give way to a less flattering view.
A The founder mentioned that they planned to liquidate their startup and return investors’ money, realizing that the market they were in was too soon. A DAO dinner club brought members together in Brooklyn for a pizza partynoting that Since your funds are held in ethereum, you have a lot less money to spend these days. One artist mentioned that the price of his digital artwork has dropped from $300 to $20 since February, and people still aren’t buying it.
But for the most part, there was little sign of backing down, and the NFT-fest continued as planned.
“We are not at zero yet,” cryptocurrency venture capitalist David Pakman assured a crowd while on stage at Radio City Music Hall. “It has not finished.”
Anissa Gardizy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @anissagardizy8 and on Instagram @anissagardizy.journalism.