Miami Tech Week took place last week in the South Florida city as part of the April Tech Month schedule, which also included the NFT Miami and Bitcoin 2022 conferences earlier in the month. The event kicked off with the eMerge Americas conference and the myriad of scheduled citywide panel discussions that followed.
Cointelegraph gathered some key insights from the thought leaders who participated, with the two main themes being Miami as a hotspot for people in the crypto industry, 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 technology conference, which includes a business pitching competition. After a two-year hiatus, he returned to the Miami Beach Convention Center on April 18-19 with content from web3, cryptocurrencies, and NFTs. Cryptocurrency trading platform Blockchain.com was the 2022 title sponsor.
Peter Smith, CEO and co-founder of Blockchain.com, participated in an eMerge panel to discuss the state of the cryptocurrency market. He later expanded on his bullish outlook by stating to CNBC that he expects “crypto assets to rally much faster than tech stocks and growth stocks” amid the current market core.
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 reason for him was a “vibe” of genuine love for cryptocurrencies by Miami residents.
Reason 1: #Miami You see it #crypto. Not just Major @FrancisSuarez and local leadership, but actual people in Miami. Walking around the city, you find more people than anywhere else who are genuinely into building the next financial system, vs the last one (NYC)
— Peter Smith (@OneMorePeter) April 21, 2022
Reason 1: Miami loves cryptocurrencies. Not just Mayor Francis Suarez and local leadership, but real people in Miami. Walking around the city, you find more people than anywhere else who are genuinely building the next financial system, versus the last (NYC)
Another eMerge speaker was Melinda Delis, Director of Business Development at Gemini. During her panel on “Enterprise Applications for Emerging Technologies” like NFTs, she revealed the top concerns of her clients when it comes to the Metaverse: “The custodian. For these businesses to meet the standards of their internal risk and compliance teams, they need to see how secure the custodian is, what the controls are around it, and how it’s regulated.”
Regulation is a topic that Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse has a very strong opinion 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 that Ripple made an illegal offering of securities to 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 United States” because the country “has been and continues to be behind in terms of regulatory clarity. And investors don’t want to put money into uncertainty.” He even tweeted about his experience earlier that day.
The SEC seems perfectly content to let the US fall further behind – all in the name of protecting their own jurisdiction at the expense of US citizens. Politics over policy is good for no one. We need a clear regulatory framework now.
— Brad Garlinghouse (@bgarlinghouse) April 22, 2022
The SEC seems perfectly content to let the United States fall behind, all in the name of protecting its own jurisdiction at the expense of American citizens. Politics above politics is not good for anyone. We need a clear regulatory framework now.
Sitting next to Garlinghouse was Ivan Soto-Wright, co-founder and CEO of MoonPay, the Miami-based crypto payment platform. Asked about the future of NFTs by moderator Coinbase head of trading and strategy Marc Bhargava, Soto-Wright stated that “NFTs have already 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 bottom line.” 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.” Although Web3 promises decentralization, it remains “at the cost of user experience,” and that streamlining peer-to-peer payments through wallets is the key to getting more people into crypto, according to Soto. Wright.
Although 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 cryptocurrency investment figures, in 2021, $25.2 billion of venture capital funding went to global blockchain startups. So far in 2022, the sector 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 tech VC funding during the first quarter, according to Crunchbase. However, nearly half of that billion was raised by Yuga Labs, creators of the NFT Bored Ape Yacht Club community, with its $450 million seed funding round led by Andreessen Horowitz. Crunchbase also noted that more recently funded Miami startups tend to “lean heavily into the crypto/NFT/blockchain/metaverse sphere.”
When it comes to 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 the Anti Fund, Paul added that “capital no longer buys you cultural relevance,” and that the Anti Fund, which invests in early-stage startups, prioritizes brand marketing and consulting services to differentiate yourself.
One of the men who has been in charge of promoting Miami as a city favorable to business and cryptocurrencies is the mayor of Miami, Francis Suárez. Miami Tech Week wouldn’t be complete without appearances by its Mayor at eMerge and other events. The organizers of the citywide crypto-related hackathons, Miami Hack Week, set up a free co-working space during the event and held talks with top VCs and tech 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 being “refreshed by new faces,” especially those in the blockchain industry.
“Miami is going to hack our way to the top in order to compete with the world.”
What an honor to be joined by visionaries like @DavidSacks @shervin @jdanjohnson and @jefffluhr for “Not Another Fireside Chat” on the future of Miami Tech at Miami Hack Week! pic.twitter.com/WWJHsUmg6W
– Major Francis Suarez (@FrancisSuarez) April 20, 2022
“Miami is going to hack our way to the top in order to compete with the world.”
What an honor to be joined by visionaries like @DavidSacks @shervin @jdanjohnson and @jefffluhr for “Not Another Fireside Chat” about the future of Miami Tech at Miami Hack Week!
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