Bitcoin 2023: Miami has had enough and so have we

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We attended Bitcoin Miami 2023. In short — it’s over. Attendance halved from the prior year. The layout of the once-sprawling venue lost all of its outdoor spaces plus an entire wing of the Miami Beach Convention Center.

The biggest announcements were trivial: a headquarters relocation from Strike, a development toolkit from Web5, a Bitcoin endorsement from Robert F. Kennedy Jr., and an up-to-$1 million donation to Bitcoin Core development from Marathon.

It was underwhelming and Miami has had enough. Even the conference organizer agrees — next year’s Bitcoin conference will relocate to Nashville.

Bitcoin 2023 conference loses half its attendees

Had you asked the average Miami resident last year their thoughts about the benefits of Bitcoin to their city, most would have responded with skeptical optimism. 

Last year’s conference attracted over 30,000 visitors and was the largest conference in Bitcoin’s history. At the time, the CEO of the world’s second-largest crypto exchange was contributing millions of dollars to downtown Miami’s FTX Arena. The decabillion-dollar giant was moving its headquarters to the city. Mayor Francis Suarez was accepting his salary in bitcoin and promoting MiamiCoin to “pay the entire tax revenue of the city” and said Miami could be a city that runs without taxes, “which I think would be revolutionary.”

MiamiCoin is now worthless. FTX executives pled guilty to fraud. Mayor Suarez reneged on his promises. The conference is leaving Miami. isn’t relocating to the city after all.

Our reporters attended this year’s event in-person. The energy level crashed as soon as we walked up to the entrance. Gone was Miami’s Charging Bull as well as half the attendees. The conference venue had an uncomfortable amount of empty space — even though the entire north wing had been closed off.

An “ordinals” art gallery claimed that the same pump-and-dump style NFT collections that Bitcoiners ridiculed on Ethereum were somehow good because they minted on Bitcoin.

References to El Salvador, which continues to lose money on its bitcoin holdings, were sparse this year. The animatronic volcano advertising El Salvador’s doomed Volcano Bonds was gone. Government spokesperson Max Keiser awkwardly forced off-topic praises of the country’s dictator into Bitcoin Magazine’s YouTube channel during intermissions. From the main stage, Vivek Ramaswamy claimed that Salvadoran crime was “down 99%” since the country adopted bitcoin as legal tender yet, conveniently, failed to mention the extralegal mass incarceration of 2% of the adult male population as the cause.

Two years later, there are still no other countries that have adopted bitcoin as legal tender (the Central African Republic briefly attempted and then repealed its law).

Quotes from the main Nakamoto stage

From the main ‘Nakamoto’ stage, no one mentioned Michael Saylor’s tax fraud lawsuit, the 99% decline in MiamiCoin, the cancelation of Bitcoin City, nor the mass incarcerations in El Salvador.

Instead, platitudes and bullish price predictions for BTC filled airtime.

“A bear market is when you build,” said Isaiah Jackson, author of Bitcoin in Black America.

“Bitcoin’s price is a reflection of general market sentiment, and we are not out of the woods,” said Q Ghaemi, host of Late Night Bitcoin.

“I think that we will see a continued influx of capital into the Bitcoin and Lightning ecosystem and this is a really auspicious time as tools and infrastructure merge to allow for a greater breadth of innovation and entrepreneurship,” said Alyse Killeen, venture capitalist at Stillmark.

“We’ll see more awareness about Bitcoin and more people will start learning about what Bitcoin is. It’s a very positive thing for me,” said Martel Fox, founder of Layer Four Talent.

“From an overall picture of the presidential election, I don’t think anything is bad for Bitcoin. This can only be good for Bitcoin. This can draw attention to Bitcoin,” said Ansel Lender, host of the podcast Bitcoin and Markets.

“Bitcoin being sound money can fix a lot of abuses in society,” said Joe Hall, reporter at CoinTelegraph.

Leaving the venue on Saturday afternoon and traveling to house parties in waterfront mansions, clubs in the trendy Wynwood neighborhood, and extravagant afterparties revealed the truth about Bitcoin. Gone were pontifications about Bitcoin’s morality and inevitable price appreciation. Politics, mining, and calls for regulatory changes faded into a sea of bikinis, top shelf alcohol, and shimmering lights.

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