Miami Tech Week took place last week in the South Florida city as part of April’s Tech Month lineup, which also included NFT Miami and the Bitcoin 2022 conference earlier in the month. Tech Week kicked off with the eMerge Americas conference and the myriad of scheduled city-wide panel discussions that followed.
Cointelegraph collected some key insights from the thought leaders who participated, with the two main topics being Miami as a hot spot for crypto folks and crypto as a disruptor of the investment landscape.
eMerge Americas is a business-backed organization with a mission to position Miami as the technology hub of North and South America. Its main event since 2014 has been the annual tech conference, which features a start-up pitching competition. After a two-year hiatus, he returned to the Miami Beach Convention Center on April 18-19 with web3, crypto, and NFT content. Cryptocurrency trading platform Blockchain.com was the 2022 title sponsor.
Related: Crypto startup Blockchain.com planning 2022 IPO
Peter Smith, CEO and co-founder of Blockchain.com, sat down on an eMerge panel to discuss the state of the crypto market. He later expanded on his bullish outlook when he told CNBC that he expects “crypto assets to recover much faster than tech stocks and growth stocks” amid a current market downturn.
Blockchain.com claims that it is the first cryptocurrency company to move its headquarters to Miami. Smith even tweeted some reasons for that move on Thursday. The main motive for him was a “vibe” of genuine love for cryptocurrencies from Miami residents.
Reason 1: #miami loves #crypto. not only mayor @FrancisSuarez and local leadership, but real people in Miami. As you walk around the city, you’ll find more people than anywhere else who are genuinely interested in building the next financial system, compared to the last (NYC)—Peter Smith (@OneMorePeter) April 21, 2022
Another eMerge speaker was Melinda Delis, Director of Business Development for Gemini. During her panel on “Business Applications for Emerging Technologies” like NFT, she revealed the main concerns of her clients when it comes to the Metaverse: “Custody. For these companies to meet the standards of their internal risk and compliance teams, they need to check what the security of the custodian is, what the controls are around it, and how it’s regulated.”
Related: Crypto Seen As The ‘Future Of Money’ In Countries Mired In Inflation
Regulation is an issue that Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse had strong views on. During a panel schedule at the Faena Forum Miami Beach on Friday, Garlinghouse mentioned on stage that Ripple (XRP) is currently in a lawsuit with the Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC, alleging Ripple made an illegal bid. of securities through XRP sales. Ripple argues that XRP should be treated as a virtual currency and not a stock.
Garlinghouse advised audience members “not to incorporate a company in the US.” because the country “has been and continues to lag behind in terms of regulatory clarity. And investors don’t want to put money into the uncertainty.” He even tweeted about his experience later that day.
The SEC seems perfectly content to let the US delay further, all in the name of protecting its own jurisdiction at the expense of US citizens. Politics about politics is not good for anyone. We need a clear regulatory framework now.—Brad Garlinghouse (@bgarlinghouse) April 22, 2022
Sitting next to Garlinghouse was Ivan Soto-Wright, co-founder and CEO of MoonPay, the Miami-based crypto payment platform. When asked about the future of NFTs by the moderator, Coinbase head of trading and strategy Marc Bhargava, Soto-Wright stated that “NFTs have now overtaken cryptocurrencies.”
He pointed to companies like Yuga Labs and CryptoPunks that have been able to monetize their brand value by “turning their intellectual property into a number on the income statement.” The next big wave of NFTs, he said, will be from major Web2 brands “monetizing their legacy through NFTs.”
She added that the process of purchasing an NFT, however, can still be a complicated process for the average “mom.” Even though Web3 promises decentralization, it’s still “at the cost of user experience,” and optimizing peer-to-peer payments through wallets is the key to getting more people into crypto, according to Soto-Wright.
Related: Dozens of VIP Backers Invest $87M in Crypto Payments Startup MoonPay
While the purpose of Miami Tech Week is to bring together startup founders and venture capitalists, the real motives behind the meetings, presentations and parties is to rub shoulders with potential investors and beneficiaries. Looking specifically at crypto investment numbers, $25.2 billion in venture capital funding went into global blockchain startups in 2021. So far in 2022, the industry has raised $5 billion in the first quarter, according to the latest data from PitchBook.
The Miami-Fort Lauderdale metro area alone raised more than $1 billion in general technology venture capital funding during the first quarter, according to Crunchbase. However, nearly half of that billion was raised by Yuga Labs, creators of the Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT community, with its $450 million seed funding round led by Andreessen Horowitz. Crunchbase also noted that more recently funded Miami startups tend to “skew heavily towards the crypto/NFT/blockchain/metaverse sphere.”
Regarding the venture capital investment pouring into crypto companies, influencer and boxer-turned-investor Logan Paul gave his thoughts while on stage at the Faena Forum Miami Beach. “It’s not about money anymore, it’s about finding investors who bring added value,” said Paul. Sitting next to Geoffrey Woo, his co-founder of the venture capital fund called Anti Fund, Paul added that “capital no longer buys cultural relevance” and that Anti Fund, which invests in early-stage startups, prioritizes marketing. and brand consulting services to differentiate yourself.
One man who has been dedicated to marketing Miami as a business-friendly, cryptocurrency-friendly city is Miami Mayor Francis Suarez. Miami Tech Week wouldn’t be complete without appearances by its Mayor at eMerge and other events. Organizers of the citywide cryptocurrency-related hackathons, Miami Hack Week, set up a free co-working space during Tech Week and held fireside chats with top tech and venture capital leaders, including the mayor. While on stage, Suarez said that a month dedicated to technology is part of Miami’s rebranding, and that its tech ecosystem is getting “renewed with new faces,” especially those in the blockchain industry.
“Miami is going to hack our way to the top to compete with the world.”
What an honor to be joined by visionaries like @DavidSacks @shervin @jdanjohnson Y @jefffluhr for “Not Another Fireside Chat” about the future of Miami Tech at Miami Hack Week! pic.twitter.com/WWJHsUmg6W— Mayor Francis Suarez (@FrancisSuarez) April 20, 2022