Business

Takeaways and reviews of what happened during Miami Tech Week

Miami Tech Week took place last week in the South Florida city as part of April’s Tech Month program, which also included NFT Miami and the Bitcoin 2022 conference earlier in the month. Tech Week kicked off with the eMerge Americas conference and the countless panel discussions that followed throughout the city.

Cointelegraph gleaned some key insights from the participating thought leaders, and the two main themes are Miami as a hotspot for crypto folks and crypto as a disruptor of the investment landscape.

eMerge Americas is a venture capital backed organization with a mission to position Miami as the technology hub of the Americas. Its premier event since 2014 is the annual tech conference, which features a startup pitch competition. After a two-year hiatus, it returned to the Miami Beach Convention Center on April 18-19 with Web3, crypto, and NFT content. Crypto trading platform Blockchain.com was the 2022 title sponsor.

See also: Crypto startup Blockchain​.com plans IPO in 2022

Peter Smith, Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of Blockchain.com, sat on an eMerge panel to discuss the state of the crypto market. He then expanded his bullish outlook when he told CNBC that he expects “crypto assets to recover much faster than tech stocks and growth stocks” amid a recent downtown in the market.

Blockchain.com claims that it is the first crypto company to move its headquarters to Miami. Smith even tweeted some reasons for the move on Thursday. Its main motive was a “mood” of genuine love for crypto from Miami residents.

Another eMerge speaker was Melinda Delis, Director of Business Development at Gemini. During her panel on “Business Applications for Emerging Technologies” such as NFTs, she revealed her customers’ key concerns regarding the Metaverse: “Storage. In order for these companies to meet the standards of their internal risk and compliance teams, they need to review what the security of the depositary is, what controls surround it and how it is regulated.”

Related: Crypto is seen as the “future of money” in inflation-stricken countries

Regulation is an issue on which Ripple’s chief executive officer, Brad Garlinghouse, had a strong opinion. During panel programming Friday at the Faena Forum Miami Beach, Garlinghouse mentioned onstage that Ripple (XRP) is currently in litigation with the Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC, alleging that Ripple conducted an illegal securities offering through the sale of XRP . Ripple argues that XRP should be treated as a virtual currency rather than a stock.

Garlinghouse advised listeners “not to incorporate a company in the US” as the country “has and continues to lag behind in terms of regulatory clarity. And investors don’t want to put money on uncertainty.” He even tweeted about his experience later in the day.

Sitting alongside Garlinghouse was Ivan Soto-Wright, co-founder and chief executive officer of MoonPay, the Miami-based crypto payments platform. When the moderator, Marc Bhargava, Head of Business Operations and Strategy at Coinbase, asked about the future of NFTs, Soto-Wright explained that “NFTs have now overtaken crypto.”

He pointed to companies like Yuga Labs and CryptoPunks that have been able to monetize their brand equity by “turning their intellectual property into a number on the income statement.” The next big wave of NFTs, he said, will come from big Web2 brands that “will monetize their legacy through NFTs.”

He added that buying an NFT could still be a complicated process for the average “mom,” though. Although Web3 promises decentralization, it still comes “at the expense of user experience,” and according to Soto-Wright, streamlining peer-to-peer payments through wallets is key to attracting more people to crypto.

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From left: Marc Bhargava, Ivan Soto-Wright, Natalia Karayaneva and Brad Garlinghouse at Faena Forum Miami Beach.

Related: Dozens of VIP backers are investing $87 million in crypto payments startup MoonPay

While the purpose of Miami Tech Week is to bring together startup founders and venture capitalists, the real motive behind the meetups, presentations and parties is to connect with potential investors and venture capitalists. Looking specifically at crypto investment numbers, in 2021 $25.2 billion worth of venture capital funding went to global blockchain startups. So far, the industry has raised $5 billion in the first quarter of 2022, according to the latest PitchBook data.

According to Crunchbase, the Miami-Fort Lauderdale metro area alone raised more than $1 billion in general tech VC funds in the first quarter. However, nearly half of that billion was raised by Yuga Labs, the creators of the Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT community, with its $450 million seed funding round led by Andreessen Horowitz. Crunchbase also noted that recently funded Miami companies tend to be “heavily focused on the crypto/NFT/blockchain/metaverse sphere.”

Regarding venture capital investments flowing into crypto companies, influencer and boxer-turned-investor Logan Paul offered his thoughts while taking the stage at Faena Forum Miami Beach. “It’s no longer about money, it’s about finding investors who bring value,” Paul said. Alongside Geoffrey Woo, his co-founder of the VC fund called Anti Fund, Paul added that “capital no longer brings cultural relevance” and that the Anti Fund, which invests in early-stage startups, prioritizes marketing and brand advisory services, to differentiate yourself.

One man dedicated to promoting Miami as a business-friendly and crypto-friendly city is Miami Mayor Francis Suarez. Miami Tech Week would not be complete without its Mayor’s appearances at eMerge and other events. Organizers of the citywide and crypto-related hackathons, Miami Hack Week set up a free coworking space during Tech Week and held fireside chats with top VCs and tech leaders, including the mayor. On stage, Suarez said that a special tech month is part of Miami’s rebranding and that its tech ecosystem will be “refreshed with new faces,” particularly in the blockchain industry.