December 5, 2019 by Michael Hiles

When the cryptocurrency phenomenon started getting traction in 2015-2016, it was fueled by smart marketers and conference promoters who leveraged the velvet rope psychology of curiosity meets gatekeeper.

Driven by anecdotes of previously unknown individuals suddenly finding massive fortunes having bought Bitcoin in double digits or launching mining operations when you could still do it with normal PC processors, the groundswell built as more and more people wanted in on the action.

Anytime there’s anything with the perception of easy money, it brings the bullshitters out of the woodwork.

That’s what happened in the early days of the internet too.

Speculators, starry-eyed dreamers, people who literally had no business even talking about it were all of a sudden thrust into the spotlight with hordes of FOMO investors chasing any and every deal with truckloads of stupid money cash.

It fueled the bubble that went pop.

And that’s precisely what happened to cryptocurrency and blockchain as well last year.

Blockchain conferences were drawing 10,000+ people from all over the world. Millions of dollars being spent on single shows to promote and hype.

Then it all ended.

Nobody was even actually selling any salient solutions, let alone discovering problems to solve.

It was 100% B.S. hype train.

Nobody is an “Expert” at this stage

With decades of deep computing down to the EE level long before blockchain and crypto, I’m as expert in the technology and business as anyone.

I will be the first to tell you — anyone claiming absolute expertise in emerging technology is full of it.

Nobody is an expert in anything but vocabulary and hypothesis — and for a small handful of those folks, the actual hands-on engineers applying the technology to a solve.

The rest of them are parrots at best.

In fact, if you find yourself at a blockchain conference, run your own informal poll by asking how many people there are in deep, communications-level protocol tech at the command line interpreter level.

Probably single digit percentage.

A large number are the “I can handle the business side” cream pastries in slim cut plaid suits and suede shoes. Finely coiffed hair and flashy smiles.

The people actually grinding out the sausage are still back in the kitchen where nobody really wants to go.

It’s not glamorous.

It’s not sales.

It’s not feel-goodism with high fives and headbutts.

It’s nerdy, boring, eye-glazing deep code, not even pretty front-ends and style sheets.

Hexidecimals and math. You know, the stuff that is the antithesis of the emote promoters.

In the long run, those are the people that will outlast the Vaudevillian acts who soon enough find the shiny new objects and become CEOs of cannabis startups or other trendy buzzwords.

Spend Time With Your Actual Customers

So the reason we just stopped going to blockchain conferences is — our customers aren’t there.

We’d rather be at places like the Government Finance Officers Association or Investment Advisor Compliance Conference—where traditional financial folks are discussing their actual, real, day-to-day issues.

In the future, when we look back at this chapter in the market, it will be tantamount to looking back on the early days of the internet — where glossy trade show booths and scantily clad pretty girls hid the reality — nobody knew what the hell they were actually talking about, and nobody had any actual working solutions.

Just lots of noise coming from the volume of air passing over vocal cords.

About Michael Hiles

Founder CEO of 10XTS. Developing enterprise software and information architecture since 1979. Managing director of Founder Institute Cincinnati. Bourbon, coffee, Legos, things that explode. Husband & daddy.

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