At least 12,000 people descended on Miami for Bitcoin 2021 and thousands more watched online as the first major in-person business conference since the pandemic began in what has been billed the biggest bitcoin event in history.
On Friday June 4, the line to get into the multi-day conference stretched more than a mile at the Mana Convention Center in Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood, a hub for tech, innovation and art.
High-profile speakers, crypto experts, industry leaders, and internet celebrities included pro boxer Floyd Mayweather, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Francis Suarez, the Miami Mayor who has been working to make the city a tech and crypto hub.
Conference organizers expected 50,000 people to attend. Originally scheduled for April 30-May 1 in Los Angeles, the event was changed to Miami over concerns of California’s strict covid-19 policies, to allow a second wave of the pandemic to pass and for vaccine rollouts to take place.
Tickets to the Miami Bitcoin conference ranged from $400 to $1,500, and people stuck in lines outside in the Florida heat were not amused.
Here are 10 takeaways from the 2021 Bitcoin Conference in Miami.
Morgen Peck, a technology journalist who wrote some of the first articles about Bitcoin, told The Moguldom Nation that the amount of Black representation at Bitcoin Miami 2021 “was a huge change” from previous conferences she has attended in the U.S.
“The people I talked to were keen to the fact that Black America missed out on previous technology booms and told me they’re here to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” Peck said. “There were the occasional nods to higher goals like banking the unbanked, which is a huge problem for Black Americans. But I think most people see a moment of rapid wealth redistribution and they naturally want to get their ticket before the prices go up. That’s how most people land in this crazy place”.
Guests who flew to Miami from around the world complained about unacceptably long lines outside the convention center and some said the event had been oversold with not enough chairs and sitting-on-the-floor room only, Miami New Times reported.
Entrepreneur Armando Pantoja posted on Instagram that the event seemed to be mismanaged, comparing it to the infamous Fyre Festival, where guests paid thousands of dollars to attend a concert in the Bahamas but ended up sleeping outside without food, entertainment, or accommodation.
“Now the line has grown from 4 blocks to 14 blocks,” Pantoj posted at tallguytycoon. “I’ve been to countless bitcoin conference is all over the world this is the worst one I’ve ever been…Completely Mismanaged and incompetent. $1500 to wait in line that is 6 blocks long with a 4 hour wait.”
“It was too full, and the Miami heat didn’t help,” another attendee told New Times. “I didn’t get to see the main speakers.”
Those who made it inside found the conference enlightening. “The line was shitty — everyone was like, ‘What the fuck?’ One hour to get into an event is unacceptable. But it was an amazing conference,” an attendee who identified as G2 told New Times.
Bitcoin bull Max Keiser has long argued that the Bitcoin price could exceed $100,000. Famous for his “mischievously seditious” Keiser Report on the Russian state TV network RT, he predicted in a 2019 interview that a cryptocurrency market rally would not include altcoins.
On the stage with MicroStrategy CEO Michael Saylor at Bitcoin 2021 conference, Kaiser screamed, “Fuck Elon, we’re not selling.” This was in reference to Tesla CEO Elon Musk putting pressure on the price of Bitcoin with his market-moving tweets.
Tesla and MicroStrategy are the two largest publicly traded corporate holders of Bitcoin, and some traders say that CEOs Musk and Saylor are trying to pump the cryptocurrency and manipulate its price to avoid going underwater and being forced to sell.
Isaiah Jackson, the author of the bestseller, “Bitcoin & Black America,” was scheduled to share the stage at Bitcoin 2021 with Lamar Wilson, Nimrod Lehavi, Diana Pires and host Leigh Cuen to talk about “Who Is A Bitcoiner?”
Jackson’s focus has been on his community and teaching Black people to understand crypto. “The global financial system is changing and the digital revolution will not be televised,” Jackson says on his website.
Jackson made a name for himself bringing the Bitcoin message to “precoiners,” according to a Bitcoin Magazine mini-interview before the conference. His message is that Bitcoin is built to liberate us from central banks and is unstoppable.
Jackson helped organize a Bitcoin basketball tournament to take place before and during the conference — a possible first of its kind in which winners receive bitcoin as a prize. Conference-goers got a chance to watch a three-point and slam dunk contest live from Mana Wynwood on June 5.
MicroStrategy CEO Michael Saylor discussed why he is so bullish on bitcoin, how he got started in the business, and his thoughts on environmental, social and governance concerns.
Saylor is the man who persuaded Elon Musk to invest billions of Tesla’s dollars in Bitcoin. MicroStrategy holds more than $2.24 billion worth of Bitcoin and went on a buying frenzy when the No. 1 cryptocurrency led the digital assets bull run. A Nasdaq-listed business intelligence company, MicroStrategy holds more than 92,000 Bitcoin at an average price of about $24,000 per coin. Saylor has remained bullish about Bitcoin even when it showed signs of peaking and slowing down. He asked investors to sell all their earthly possessions and buy Bitcoin.
“We say bitcoin is hope,” Saylor said at Bitcoin Miami 2021. “Bitcoin fixes everything…that certainly was the case with our stock….it imbued life into the company…morale was dramatically boosted. We just had the best first quarter we’ve had in a decade.”
Congressional candidate Laura Loomer, who has been banned from Twitter, Facebook, and Clubhouse for her anti-Muslim rhetoric, accused Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey at the Bitcoin conference in Miami of meddling in elections and violating her rights. Loomer won the Republican nomination in Florida’s 21st Congressional District, home to former President Donald Trump. She lost the heavily Democratic seat by 20 percentage points in November to U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, a West Palm Democrat.
“How can you say that this is a currency for everyone in the world when you are the king of censorship?” Loomer shouted, according to Newsweek. “Bitcoin is about decentralization, and you have no right to be here today speaking about this.”
Loomer became a poster child for legislation to fine large platforms that censor political speech Florida Politics reported. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the bill into law in May that prohibits social media companies from banning political candidates for more than 14 days. Violators will be fined $250,000 for statewide candidates or $25,000 for local candidates.
“Censorship is a human rights violation,” Loomer told Dorsey. “You are interfering with elections like my own.”
Miami ranks No. 1 in the U.S. for startup density, according to a Kauffman Foundation report. Blockchain.com is the latest tech company to move its headquarters to South Florida. Miami Mayor Francis Suarez made the announcement at a news conference on Thursday ahead of the 2021 Bitcoin Conference, NBCMiami reported.
Miami Mayor Francis Suarez spoke at Bitcoin 2021. He has gained fame in the crypto community for his pro-Bitcoin stance and incentives to bolster digital asset adoption across the city.
Suarez said he’s trying to make Miami the bitcoin, blockchain and mining capital of the world. “We’re taking the Miami Movement to the moon,” Suarez told attendees.
In February, Suarez said that Miami city employees would be able to get their salaries paid in Bitcoin instead of USD if they wanted it. He also said that he was considering financing his reelection campaign in BTC.
In a video broadcast to Bitcoin Miami, El Salvador President Nayib Bukele said he plans to make the country the world’s first to adopt bitcoin as legal tender, partnering with payments platform Strike to build the financial infrastructure using bitcoin technology, CNBC reported.
Jack Mallers, founder of Strike, spoke on the mainstage at the conference. Mallers said this will go down as the “shot heard ’round the world for bitcoin.”
“People are losing their minds with excitement!” tweeted Erin Griffith, a New York Times writer covering startups and venture capital, describing the audience’s response to Bukele’s announcement. “Full standing ovation and the biggest cheers I’ve seen yet.”
Some on Twitter were skeptical, like Will @Sokos6, who tweeted, “This is also completely and totally disgusting. Sincerely wondering how much the bribe was,” with a link to a Human Rights Watch report that shows Bukele’s poor record on human rights.
Thousands of Salvadorans have been arrested and jailed in overcrowded and unsanitary centers called “containment centers” for violating mandatory covid-19 lockdown, according to Human Rights Watch. Girls and women accused of having abortions have been imprisoned for homicide and LGBT individuals face discrimination and police violence.
“Guess the El Salvador thing was sell the news, guess the market was hoping a more popular country like Vietnam or Uruguay would be the paladin of crypto adoption,” tweeted Lily Francus@nope_its_lily.
On the second day of the conference, a man jumped on the Bitcoin Miami 2021 stage and ripped open his suit to reveal a giant Shiba Inu head on a T-shirt — the logo for Dogecoin. “Dogecoin to the moon,” he screamed before he was escorted off the stage. Decrypt listed the incident as one of the five weiredest moments at the Bitcoin Miami conference.
“The crypto market is still too immature Elon proves it, this guy confirms it,” Tim Brooks tweeted
During Bitcoin 2021 Miami on June 5, the price of Bitcoin fell from $37,723 at 8:30 a.m. to $34,998 at 10 p.m. Gold broker and crypto critic Peter Schiff was watching the price fall. “My guess is a lot of speculators bought #Bitcoin in anticipation of a conference inspired rally. All the attention, enthusiasm and pie-in-the-sky price forecasts seemed like an obvious catalyst for buyers. But since the buyers didn’t show speculators will have to sell for losses,” Schiff tweeted.
Kyle Hill @kaleazy replied, “Bitcoin is the #1 performing asset class of the last 10 years, returning 10X more than the Nasdaq 100. Someone other than speculators must be buying.”
Bitcoin was trading at $33,953 as of this writing, down from from its all-time high of $64,829.14.
Listen to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin | Episode 74: Jamarlin Martin Jamarlin returns for a new season of the GHOGH podcast to discuss Bitcoin, bubbles, and Biden. He talks about the risk factors for Bitcoin as an investment asset including origin risk, speculative market structure, regulatory, and environment. Are broader financial markets in a massive speculative bubble?
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