NFT LA: Hacks, Hollywood, and Powerful Women

Tue, 19 Apr 2022 11:03:41 +0000

NFT LA Los Angeles Conference

Hey everyone, Kevin here. This week I have something a little different to share with you than the usual numbers and data.

If you wondered how NFT LA was, I have all the juicy details right here. Let’s go!

It got off to a rocky and wild start

At 10:00 AM on March 29th, 2022, several thousands of attendees of NFT LA were waiting in the main conference hall for the conference to begin. It was supposed to start at 9:30, so they were half an hour late, and people were clearly confused.

I struck up a conversation with my seat neighbor, and learned that the first speaker was supposed to be Jeff Zirlin (aka The Jiho), Co-Founder of Axie Infinity, one of the most successful play-to-earn games in the NFT space.

Well literally just hours before that speech, Axie Infinity had just experienced what might be the largest DeFi hack in history: $600 million dollars worth of ETH and $USDC were stolen from the Ronin network.

They had literally just experienced this hack – the Ronin Networked posted on Twitter at 8:30 AM on that day, and here we were just and hour and a half later, waiting for the co-founder to speak. It was kind of a surreal moment, for sure, and I would have understood completely had The Jiho not spoke at all that day. He had much bigger fish to fry than entertaining a bunch of degens at an NFT conference.

The Jiho did speak, and it was obviously very difficult

I’ve got to give him credit here, it was very difficult to walk onto that stage no doubt, and when he announced what had happened, the audience gasped. He was obviously very emotional with what had just happened to him and the company, and $600 million dollars is a staggering amount of money, inconceivable really if it were in stacks of twenties.

He was clearly very far off his normal game, and the rest of his fireside chat with Shelly Palmer was rather unremarkable. I get it, his mind was a million miles away from that conversation, and mine was too, and I was learning more about how the hack had happened, on my phone.

Hollywood is coming to NFTs

Or maybe NFTs are coming to Hollywood, I’m not sure who is bringing whom, and where. But Hollywood was definitely in attendance, with Mark Cuban onstage, later bringing out Charlie Sheen (of Two and a Half Men) and Kevin Connolly (Entourage). They pitched a new television show which is selling memberships as NFTs, hoping to fund some or all of their new show production via NFTs.

The most interesting thing I learned here is that everyone is eager to break “the system”. In traditional finance, that’s the banks, the middlemen, the intermediaries, everything that got us started in cryptocurrency to begin with.

In Hollywood, the systems to break includes the film studio, the showrunners and financiers and the like. Charlie Sheen, love him or hate him, is definitely a funny guy.

Me, with my Stone-Age Technology, I don’t really understand all of this, I’m just happy to be back to the party – Charlie Sheen

Happy to be back at the party

I hear you, Charlie, I’m happy to be back too, but for different reasons. One of the most popular talks was unsurprisingly “How to Execute Amazing NFT Projects,” with speakers from creative and technical service providers to the industry.

Many in the audience left for the next speech, “NFTs and Property Rights”. I guess that makes sense, too, but I found it interesting. Perhaps many people leaving for what some may consider the “boring details” is kind of emblematic of where we are right now as an industry. The quick buck is alluring, but the details are rather messy.

Shout out to the diversity of attendees

While diversity of the NFT space can definitely be greater, and more inclusive, I’ve been attending technology conferences for over 20 years, and anecdotally, this was most diverse group of people at a conference I’ve ever attended.

One panel that stood out to me was the “Dapper Labs Presents: Women in Web 3”, featuring Stephanie Smellie,  Ridhima Khan, Jayne Peressini, Nicole Rochette, and moderated by Ros Gold-Onwude. These women each brought fantastic insights and diverse perspectives to the stage, and I thought it was cool of Dapper Labs to celebrate the diversity of their own team.



Key Takeaways from NFT LA

I’ll see you at NFT NYC in June!

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