Thousands of Ethereum programmers work and party in Denver

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ETHDenver 2022 attracts thousands of Ethereum enthusiasts

MacKenzie Sigalos | CNBC

DENVER – A few blocks from the Colorado state capital in downtown Denver is a place called Sports Castle. The six-story building is a retrofit Chrysler dealership originally built in 1927 where instead of stairs, curved ramps encircle the perimeter of each floor. The degenerate grunge aesthetic is intentional and fits perfectly with the ethos of ETHDenver, an annual two-week event that attracts some of the brightest and most innovative minds in the Ethereum ecosystem.

“It’s like we broke into an abandoned warehouse,” said John Paller, who first launched ETHDenver in 2017. “It fits the vibe of this emergent kind of permissiveness, where it’s almost, ‘Yeah, we’re building some kind of revolution, and you don’t even know about it.’

Five years later, the cat is definitely out of the bag. Paller tells CNBC that more than 20,000 people signed up to attend this year — and he estimates that more than 13,000 turned out for the official gathering in Denver, plus the more than 350 side events. ETHDenver organizers say it is now the largest and longest-running Ethereum event in history.

Ethereum is the second largest cryptocurrency in the world by market cap after Bitcoin and is known for its smart contracts, which are basically programmable pieces of code that could one day replace middlemen like banks and lawyers in certain types of business transactions.

Paller tells CNBC that hackers are known as BUIDLers — a deliberate misspelling of the word “builders” in a sort of homage to the Bitcoin meme HODL, or “hold on for dear life.”

“We prefer BUIDL to HODL,” Paller said. “That ethos is very ingrained in the community.”

The meme-off may seem silly, but it gets to the heart of what separates these two very different groups of people.

Bitcoiners tend to be slower to develop and prioritize security and decentralization above all else, while Ethereum programmers tend to be more cavalier. While they don’t necessarily break things, they move quickly and tinker aggressively.

Ethereum serves as the primary building block for all sorts of crypto projects, such as non-fungible tokens (NFTs), decentralized finance (DeFi), and Web3, a still somewhat amorphous buzzword for a third-generation internet that is decentralized and built using Bitcoin blockchain- Technology. According to the State of The dApps website, most NFTs and 74% of DeFi apps or dApps run on Ethereum.

The network is also on the verge of a year-long upgrade from a proof-of-work mining model to a consensus mechanism known as proof-of-stake. The overhaul will lead Ethereum to a less energy-intensive mining process and, according to network founder Vitalik Buterincould increase the speed by 7,000 times to 100,000 transactions per second.

ETHDenver 2022 at the “Castle” in downtown Denver

MacKenzie Sigalos | CNBC

The ETHDenver atmosphere

As you climb the castle’s ramps, rooms unfold on the periphery like the chambers of a nautilus.

Beyond the stages and company booths handing out lavish merchandise (enough to fill a few suitcases, which some attendees did), there are locations for crystal massages, a sensory deprivation zone, meditation rooms, gong baths (Google it), DJ ‘chill rooms ” with NFT-enabled sound systems, NFT art galleries, coding zones (row upon row of banquet tables designed to let programmers do their thing), an open bar lounge with plush leather couches, circuit crafting workshops, a living large chess set, bean bags to sleep in and hang out in and in the spirit of inclusivity a puppy playroom.

And for those looking to break away from the main venue, satellite outings included tequila tastings, a Deadmau5 dance party, and a crypto poker tournament with a buy-in of 0.05 ETH, or around $130.

During the conference, politicians, celebrities, royalty, and some of the biggest names in the development community took to the main stage at the Castle to talk about Web3, NFTs, Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs), the upcoming Ethereum upgrade, and more countless other topics are currently occupying the community.

Speakers included Colorado Governor Jared Polis, who recently announced plans to accept cryptocurrencies for tax payments; former US presidential candidate Andrew Yang; Elon Musk’s younger brother Kimbal and Buterin himself.

ETHDenver 2022 attracts thousands of Ethereum enthusiasts

MacKenzie Sigalos | CNBC

But speakers and panels are not the main attraction of ETHDenver. At its core, this is a hackathon. Imagine thousands of developers from around the world converging in Denver, staying up all night for days, teaming up to build projects from the ground up – and collectively competing for the $1.5 million in prizes on offer. fight dollars. While hackathons are nothing new, many in the blockchain community consider ETHDenver to be the first destination for Ethereum developers.

“It’s really Tech meets Mr. Robot, meets Burning Man Festival, meets Celebration of Life,” said Dani Osorio, Head of Content for ETHDenver, who has worked in infrastructure and developer relations for the past several years. “So you have this very easy-going, collegial, collaborative energy that’s very cheerful.”

“It’s not a conference where you just sit and listen, wear a suit and act like someone you’re not. You can be yourself and participate in building that future in any way that you see fit,” Paller said. “Choose your own adventure.”

One of the hackathon judges is Christine Perry, a former Department of Defense contractor who came to Krypto because she wanted to see what’s under the hood of tokens. She explains that ETHDenver is where developers learn what has been built and what has yet to be built, and then work together to make it happen.

“When I discovered Ethereum, I thought, ‘This is it. That’s the blockchain that’s really going to make change, because there are a lot of developers here, there’s a lot of people tinkering,'” said Perry, who, before getting into blockchain, made it — twice — into the Guinness World Records for groups -Parachuting events.

“ETHDenver is a place of advancement for space. After that everyone goes back to the drawing board. They have already formed their partnerships and just keep moving the project or ecosystem forward.”

ETHDenver 2022 at the “Castle” in downtown Denver

MacKenzie Sigalos | CNBC

But the ETHDenver scene isn’t just about developers. As technology has matured, so have subcultures.

Parts of the summit felt more commercial than before, according to longtime ETHDenver attendees. Businesses don’t shy away from Schilling products, and networking for the purpose of recruiting talent – and money – is definitely one thing. The organizers, who allotted space in the castle, apparently gave more priority to company stands than in previous years.

“It’s a bunch of hackers developing and building projects mixed with investors, but the investors are not like bank investors, they are also hackers who made a lot of money from crypto back then. It’s just so awesome,” said Keatly Haldeman, CEO of recently launched Dequency, a Web3 music synchronization licensing platform.

Ethereum sub-tribes also include artists like NFT star Emily Yang, better known as Pplpleasr, as well as humanitarians like Kweku Mandela (grandson of Nelson Mandela) and Princess Sarah Culberson of Sierra Leone, who spoke about the use cases of crypto in emerging markets.

But no matter what sub-tribe they belonged to, the party didn’t end on Wednesday. The buses departed for a group ski trip to Breckenridge on Thursday morning.

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