Crypto developers gather as turmoil sweeps the industry

Skulls and bones stacked in the catacombs of Paris

AFP / Patrik Kovarik

PARIS. About 20 meters below ground level in Paris lies a maze of centuries-old tunnels known as the Catacombs that house skeletal remains. about six million Parisians. Legend has it that plague victims made up some of the bones lining the corridors.

This week, it turned into a neon-lit techno cave for Ethereum’s best programmers, where they could party until 4am. The mantra was to leave no trace, so by sunrise everything was gone.

“It’s very illegal, but also very crypto,” explained one of the approximately 100 party attendees, who declined to give his name for fear of alerting the Paris police.

She also said that this hike was one of the most ridiculous things she has ever done in her life. The expedition involved crawling under fences, crawling through caves, tracing the path of old railroad tracks, wading up to your hips in muddy water, and some bouldering.

“There was a gap in the rocks, and I didn’t think anything about it. I thought, “Oh, we’re stopping here,” and then a man jumped out of there,” the participant explained.

The hike to the catacombs included wading through the water in one place.

Anonymous party animal

Several squads gathered in the 14th arrondissement of Paris late on Saturday evening to infiltrate an underground attraction. Each team was put together through an anonymous Telegram group and given their input.

“You got a link and password to the survey form and you basically answered some questions and provided your Telegram. If you’ve been chosen for this adventure, you’ve been added to a Telegram group with a handful of other people you didn’t know. and the guide jumped into the thread on the day of the meeting to tell you the meeting place, ”said the participant.

Another party-goer turned on his fitness tracker to map the distance and found that they had driven four and a half miles underground.

All paths converged at a large central cave, where there was a DJ, a bar with neon lights, candles and dancing people.

The only downside to an underground rave in a mass grave?

“People are starting to think, ‘Uh, where can I get out? said another present.

Welcome to the Ethereum Community Conference, an annual event that brings together the world’s top developers and cryptographers in the City of Light. The event officially kicked off Tuesday morning, but key players in the space arrived in Paris a few days ahead of time to take part in side events such as the Metaverse Summit and a Parisian-style showroom dubbed “The Future of Web3 Content.” And for parties like La Degen and Raave.

The photo was taken on the way to a secret underground party in the catacombs of Paris.

Anonymous party animal

EthCC: “Not Bitcoin Miami”

EthCC is in a sense the opposite Bitcoin Miamithe largest conference on cryptography.

While Bitcoin Miami boasts an attendance of tens of thousands, EthCC intentionally limited tickets to 2,000 to keep the event small and intimate. CNBC spoke to almost a dozen people in Paris who were unable to purchase tickets before the event sold out, but still came to the city just to take in all the side events.

“They deliberately kept it small and personal because they could easily sell more tickets,” said Samantha Yap, who helps coordinate EthCC.

The event takes place at a difficult time for the crypto industry. Big companies like Three Arrows Capital and lenders like Celsius and Voyager Digital have filed for bankruptcy and the domino effect has been brutal, shattering overall confidence in the sector and questioning the current state of decentralized finance (or DeFi). ecosystem.

“I think a lot of the projects were completely empty,” developer Max Saal said of the many companies that emerged in 2021 amid the token price boom. “It’s a deterrent for people who… are actually building something real.”

Meanwhile, Ethereum is also on the cusp of a multi-year upgrade that will be its most significant overhaul since the digital currency was launched nearly a decade ago. There is a lot at stake in this deployment.

Cryptocurrencies such as ethereum as well as bitcoin often criticized for the process of mining to create new coins. Both currently use the so-called proof-of-work mining model, in which miners compete to solve complex mathematical equations using groups of powerful computers.

Ethereum is working on moving from an energy-intensive proof-of-work method to secure the network to a proof-of-stake model that requires users to use their existing Ethereum cache as a means of verifying transactions and minting new tokens. . This requires much less power and will result in faster transactions.

The transition has been repeatedly delayed over the past few years due to serious shortcomings in implementation. But series of dress rehearsals over the past few months showed promising signs that everything will go smoothly when the so-called “merger” takes place in September.

If something goes wrong, the question is what impact it could have on digital assets in general. Take DeFi, which aims to recreate traditional financial systems like banks, but with cryptocurrency. Basically they work on the Ethereum blockchain. It’s unclear what will happen to large swathes of the DeFi ecosystem if there are any issues with the transition to Proof-of-Stake later this year.

But the atmosphere on EthCC is overwhelmingly positive and most people are ecstatic that a bear market means no scammers because profits cannot be made quickly and easily.

Dani Osorio, who has worked in infrastructure and developer relations over the past few years and has organized AtDenver conference earlier this year, CNBC reports that there are many blockchain and crypto conferences around the world, but EthCC is the only one that caters to technical participants.

“You will see CTOs, technical founders, cryptographers and protocol researchers. It’s unheard of,” Osorio said, adding that she met Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin in a courtyard in Paris back in 2018 at the first EthCC venue.

Felice Schimmel represents TikTok celebrities and she started down the web3 rabbit hole in November. 2021. She came to Paris to better understand the conversations going on between insiders, especially as regulation is becoming more of an international conversation.

“[Web3] allows you to be able to own your fans and your followers. This allows you to communicate with them without having a platform in the middle of that conversation.”

Even the Bohemian prince, who comes from a 600-year-old noble family in the Czech Republic, was unable to buy tickets in time before they were sold out. But William Lobkowicz, who spent the last year minting his family’s collection of 20,000 cultural objects in the form of NFTs, still flew in from Prague to talk business with some of the brightest minds in the blockchain ecosystem.

“I come from an industry that is struggling and where radical change is needed for sustainable and long-term development,” he told CNBC. “What if the regular one stops working?”

At EthCC, people don’t talk about price charts or markets, but ether is now rising after a period of dismal pricing. Ethereum is the token native to the Ethereum blockchain and has surged nearly 40% over the past five days after a long fall that saw it drop nearly 70% from its peak in November last year.