Web3's conference calendar is more full than ever before, with 10 major NFT events between February and May. Signal explains how to pick in a crowded calendar.
As we approach February, conference season is officially upon us. And despite a damp macroeconomic environment, there are more web3 conferences to pay attention to than ever before. Notably, both Yuga Labs and Azuki have announced that they will not be attending NFT NYC. That means no ApeFest in New York, whilst Azuki has also announced that it will not be attending NFT LA either. This ties in with how we have seen these communities behave in the past few months, with Yuga Labs looking to expand beyond the NFT market. Azuki, meanwhile, may be shifting its focus to Asia, where the majority of its holders are based.
But these communities are dropping out of conferences for the same reason: the calendar is filling up, and fast. There are at least ten major web3 events occurring between February and May, including ETH Denver, Non-Fungible Conference Lisbon, and PROOF of Conference.
Also amongst those ten is NFT Paris and VeeCon, which were the best two of the many conferences I attended in 2022. Here's why.
For one, the location plays a crucial role in the success of these events. Having a central venue where everyone is forced to meet makes life easy. The attendees, speakers, and exhibitors are all in one location, not to mention food, drink, and other amenities, making it easy to get to where you want to be. There is no commute between different events, no time wasted in traffic, and no need to take multiple Ubers per day.
This February, NFT Paris will be held in the 10,000m2 Grand Palais Éphémère, at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, whilst VeeCon 2022 filled up the U.S. Bank Stadium in downtown Minneapolis. (It's worth noting that VeeCon 2023 is three separate locations in Indianapolis, though all within a few hundreds metres of each other.) Outside web3, where conferences have become a refined science, using one location is the obvious choice. Both of these conferences got it right.
Despite a damp macroeconomic environment, there are more web3 conferences to pay attention to than ever before.
A further advantage of tightly-knit conferences is that that in-person networking is much more effective than online networking. At almost every NFT conference I’ve been to, it is easy to meet people, but central locations make it seamless to start up a conversation because everyone is under the same roof. And meeting people is the entire purpose of a conference: making connections, learning about artists and products, and discussing the future — all without using a meme or an emoji. You may leave exhausted, but you also come out buzzing, full of ideas, and inspired.
Last, the quality of speakers at NFT Paris and VeeCon was exceptional. This is not always the case, and many conferences are guilty of making the most of a handful of top-tier speakers, whilst overall letting the standard drop severely. (At NFT NYC, for example, a tenth of the 15,000 attendees were listed as speakers.) NFT Paris and VeeCon have not fallen into that trap. Last year’s most memorable speakers from NFT Paris were Ian Rogers from Ledger, Yat Siu from Animoca Brands, and MetaKovan, who purchased Beeple’s Everydays: the First 5000 Days for $69m in March 2021. MetaKovan participates in very few interviews; it was a major coup to have him on the agenda and he shared the life lessons he has learnt since buying the world's most expensive NFT, including why, amongst a seemingly endless pool of NFTs, you can only find uniqueness through investing your own time.
At VeeCon, the speakers were equally strong, including Beeple himself, as well as Snoop Dogg, Fewocious, and Pharrell Williams (who works with Doodles as the collection's Chief Brand Officer). However, the segments were short, which led to surface-level insights. At NFT Paris, the talks were longer, panellists had time to debate, and there was deeper audience interaction which made it far more interesting to attend.
This year it is clear from the speaker roster that NFT Paris is aiming even bigger. As well as welcoming back Ledger's Ian Rogers and Animoca's Yat Siu, NFT Paris is hosting Greg Solano, co-founder of Yuga Labs; Julian Holguin, CEO of Doodles and former President of Billboard; Erick Calderon, founder of ArtBlocks; alongside executives from LVMH, Salesforce, Warner Bros., and Shopify.
The cost of these conferences is also worth mentioning. Conference tickets range from a few hundred dollars to thousands for multi-day events. This excludes flights, accommodation, socialising, and transport. It can be hefty, and last year we saw backlash against several conferences due to pricing. What VeeCon did well is releasing their ticket as an NFT, which let the market determine the value of the three-day event. Tickets initially traded at 2eth but later fell to 0.2eth ($500 at the time). With a month to go until the conference, NFT Paris tickets are €390 euros for the two-day event, whilst a half-day immersion experience is €60. While it will still be cost-prohibitive for many people, the value one can gain from attending these conferences is well worth the investment.
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