Consensus 2023: What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger

By: Sarah Ikalowych

Our team just got back from this year’s Consensus by CoinDesk, and it sure looked different than last year’s event in several ways. First, the conference had been significantly scaled down from the overwhelming pomp and circumstance in 2022. The stages were smaller, there were fewer topic tracks taking place, and there were not nearly as many exhibitors. Second, the conversations were very different in both tone and content.  And third, it was nowhere near as hot as last year, which we were all EXTREMELY grateful for.

 Scaling Back Smartly

While smaller than the colossal production that last year’s event was, this year’s conference felt more intentional and purpose-driven than last year. In 2022, it felt like participants were trying to convince everyone attending, themselves included, that they were growing exponentially amid tanking numbers and red lines across the markets. Now in 2023, we’re well into crypto winter, and no one has been left unaffected by the Terra Luna and FTX collapses, meaning conference participants of all sizes were being much more judicious with their spending, presence, and activities.

After a year of discussing bad actors, arrests, collapses, and SEC investigations, it was clear that no one wanted to talk about these any longer- a welcome relief, to be honest. The focus was very much on moving forward, how best to scale, collaborate, and support one another, as well as how to rebuild trust within the industry. The crypto community was truly talking the talk and walking the walk with that “community” aspect. We mentioned in last year’s blog on the conference that it was great to see all of the support for newcomers to the space, and that spirit was still very much alive at this year’s event.

Congress at Consensus

While last year’s headlining celebrity speaker was rapper 2 Chainz, this year’s big names were a lot less, well… fun. These included House Financial Services Committee Chairman Rep. Patrick McHenry of North Carolina and Senator Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, along with New York Department of Financial Services Superintendent Adrienne Harris and Commodity Futures Trading Commission Commissioner Christy Goldsmith Romero. While not nearly as entertaining as one of the world’s most popular rappers discussing NFT involvement and purchases, these were the conversations everyone was looking forward to the most, as concerns continue to surround the space and regulatory decisions hang in the balance. The conference featured an entire day dedicated to their Policy Summit, which focused exclusively on regulatory and legislative topics.

There were also appearances from former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci, and while his conversations were less regulatory-focused than the others, it still speaks to politicians’ growing involvement in the space, regardless of how long they were involved in politics (we kid- we love the Mooch!)

Still a Success

While they say that everything is bigger in Texas, this year’s event proved that size doesn’t matter, as it still packed just as much of a punch and provided us with a great deal to discuss. The crypto industry has dealt with a lot this year, and it speaks volumes that many are still standing. We applaud the resilient players, participants, journalists, and others in the space who have continued to fight the good fight amid a year of downs and bad news. Like Texas native Kelly Clarkson famously belts out, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and we love to see the crypto industry standing strong together!



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