I have some very fond memories of last year’s Bitcoin Conference in Miami. On the first day, I grabbed an Uber from my hotel in South Beach. It was the first Uber ride that I had ever ordered on my own phone. This boomer was going places! Later, Elliot Chun, a new friend that I met at the conference, would remark that it is crazy that I owned bitcoin for five years before I had even downloaded the Uber app. Such are the crazy priorities of a 58-year-old!
The Uber driver was Haitian, so we spoke in French. I asked him if he knew about Bitcoin and he responded that he had heard of it but did not own any. I told him to download a wallet and I would send him some. I gave him my cell number to text me his wallet address if he downloaded a new wallet.
My first recollection of Bitcoin 2021 was arriving close to the venue and seeing a line of people that stretched for blocks and blocks waiting to pass through security. There were some amazing outfits and the atmosphere in the line was already buzzing. I said to myself, “This conference is going to rock.”
It was such a change of scenery from my home and native land — Canada. Canada had very strict lockdown protocols and it was nice to arrive in a much more open and inviting city. I was able to jump the line due to my speaker status and I passed through security without hassle. I had just grabbed my grub bag and was walking towards the domes when a very pleasant lady wearing an event staff t-shirt said “I know you!”
Her name was Trish Fernandes, a single mom, and an absolute gem. We took a selfie together with my phone since she was restricted from taking any photos. She told me she had traveled from the West Coast to volunteer at the event and was staying in a hostel to save on hotel fees. I thought to myself that the BTC community is friggin’ awesome.
I started to walk around the event park and was amazed by the vibe and the size of the event. I saw the Swan dome where I was going to do a live podcast with Brady Swenson. Right behind it was a dome that said, “FOSS DOME” — Free Open Source Software.
The printing on the dome was somewhat mis-aligned and as you can see, there is a way of reading it that says “Foss, DO ME.” I thought way back to my younger days and thought of the fun I could have with that interpretation. Let’s leave it at that.
I sat at a shaded picnic table for most of the first day and met an incredibly diverse group of people. Professionals,, Bitcoin enthusiasts and most importantly, parents and young kids. I also spent hours talking with an incredible Wall Streeter named Elliot Chun. Elliot and I share similar backgrounds as credit traders and risk managers during the Great Financial Crisis (GFC) in 2008. We also share the passion for Bitcoin and how it is going to revolutionize finance and disintermediate so many legacy players. BTC will also reduce risk in the legacy financial system since much of that risk is due to leverage and counterparty risk as we witnessed when Lehman Brothers defaulted during the GFC.
Elliot and I still talk frequently with respect to opportunities in the Bitcoin mining space and investment opportunities there.
On the second day of the conference, the highlight of my day was meeting a group of entrepreneurial Bitcoiners from Guatemala who had an exchange called IBEX Mercado. They had reached out to me on Twitter and we met for a few beers in one of the “air conditioned” tents. I thought to myself, “What an exceptional group of young men. This Bitcoin revolution is truly global and so full of promise.”
I was scheduled to be on stage first thing Saturday morning. The crowd was amazing and I admit to being kind of nervous. Just prior to going on stage, the groups of speakers were huddling back-stage and I met Dylan LeClair. What a rockstar! I asked him why he dropped out of university after only one year and his response was classic, “I was sick of the Keynesian brainwashing.” I remember thinking, “if this 19-year-old kid has such guts, what the heck do I have to worry about being on stage?” I have tremendous respect for the research Dylan is doing. Man, this community is something…
The highlight of the conference for me was being on stage with Preston Pysh, Jeff Booth and Mark Yusko. During our panel I hoped to get three points across to the audience.
First, Bitcoin is the best asymmetric investment opportunity I have seen in my 30+ years of managing risk. Second, I gave a shout-out to the IBEX team and their desires to build a Bitcoin Lake project modeled after the Bitcoin Beach experience in El Salvador. Third, I called out Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his comment that, “The budget will balance itself.” I said that this is a dangerous statement from a prime minister and it will cause concern amongst international lenders. (Bitcoin is essential for all citizens as protection against prime ministers with poor policy decisions.)
Moreover, given recent events that have happened in Ottawa, I am proud that I stated my concern with Trudeau. I had said “He was born on third base, and thought he hit a triple,” which is apt given his response this February to the freedom convoy and his lack of experience in dealing with real-life crises.
Later, on the same stage, Jack Mallers on-boarded the country of El Salvador. Jack’s passion still brings tears to my eyes.
Shortly after the conference, my friends at IBEX saw an opportunity in the neighboring country and sprang into action offering merchant solutions for their bitcoin platform. I have stayed in touch with IBEX and have become close friends with the CEO — Jose Lemus. I love their team, their expertise, their drive and their passion. Jose and I have spent time together in Miami this past year and IBEX recently announced that they have been chosen to on-board merchants in the city of Miami.
February 25, I completed a commitment to invest in a capital raise for IBEX. Wow, things can move quickly in eight months, eh? See you all at BTC 2022.
This is a guest post by Greg Foss. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.