Probably Nothing in Miami

No Vice. No Sound Machine. All NFTs!

I’m back from Miami. And: wow!

I can write an entire newsletter about my first visit to the amazing city of Miami, Florida, but this is all about the NFT experience surrounding Art Miami.

I was there primarily for 2 events NFT BZL and DCENTRAL — two competing shows that put their events on top of each other before Art Basel Miami kicked off to capitalize on the popularity of NFTs in the art world (but just beaten out by NFT NYC by a few weeks to be the the first live NFT events in 2021.)

NFT BZL was a one day show at the suitable FTX Arena where the Miami Heat play.

DCENTRAL was a 2-day trade show/conference/workshop at the Airport Convention Center.

BZL was more like a straight conference with a fancy main stage on the actual court with the Mayor of Miami showing up to give his vote of confidence for the event and that Miami was THE crypto friendly city in the United States.

The other attendees I met were all more from the business side, brands and VCs. I’ll always look for the events the government show up for to get a sense of the audience type. So this was good to network with people from companies like Puma and Christie’s. There were some booths outside the arena under the beautiful Miami sky but they were limited and it was more about the content which had some great speakers.

DCENTRAL was a mix of a conference, trade show and art exhibition — so if you wanted to get a feel of what was happening across the NFT world, this was the show to be at.

The talks spread out over 3 stages, mirrored the ones at BZL but in a less-exciting convention setting. The trade show area was a mishmash of everyone in the industry now but you couldn’t grasp the size of their operations with the small area and the modest booth size.

Gala Games is one of the biggest companies in the space now, so big they just held their OWN conference in Las Vegas, but you wouldn’t get that vibe seeing them on the show floor (See photo above).

Other super stars on the floor that looked like small startups were DeFi Kingdom — which are anything but — helped to onboard new users and giving away special NFTs if you joined their Discord and other hoopjumps. I got a bunch of t-shirts just by following companies on Twitter.

Overhearing some of the conversations: some were there to learn, some to speculate, some to network.

The other section I found interesting was the digital art gallery so a lot of screens were up showing off the different types of NFT art out there now.

The whole purpose of having these 2 conferences before the beginning of Art Basel is obviously to educate the art crowd and also show off Miami as the leader in the space in the US over NYC — and, well, it worked on me.

This is the only 2 events I had planned when I landed. There was honestly so much more going on during the 4 days I was there that I had FOMO Inception (FOMO inside FOMO inside FOMO) there were a ton of parties going on every night, gallery openings, and dinners, drinks and more.

I was invited to a Samsung Next private salon on the beach which was incredible and then I was invited to Puerto Rico the following week for a bunch of interlocking events during Blockchain Week.

As a pioneer in what is now known as Web1 (Dotcom) and Web2 (Startup) it’s just fascinating to me to see all this happen again. I am so excited for this decade’s tech movement, it’s like a new iteration of The Matrix, but I can tell more education is needed to bring non-technical people into this space and I thought these 2 shows and having them on top of a week where people use “colored acrylic to spread on dead trees” to be the perfect place to mash-up the new trends in NFTs, the Metaverse and Web3.

The whole city felt like early SXSW when they added the startups, but before all the sponsors came in and everyone was just excited to meet people, hear what others are doing and continue to build great things.

The biggest con: the traffic was killer, with no subway system, and the event venues spreads out all over the place.

The funniest thing was asking how people wanted to connect with you after they chatted with you: Telegram? LinkedIn? Twitter? iMessage? The answer was a Linktree to all of your connections and let them choose which one they want to connect on.

Continued on my NFT entertainment Substack: Thndr Frens 👉🏻 GO!

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Casey Lau

thoughts on everything from startup ecosystems, conferences, anime, video games, comic books, digital entertainment to cats and ninjas.