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Thousands of people flocked to Miami Beach this week to partake in2023 and talk shop about crypto’s top coin, but some attendees said the iconic conference feels different on its first day than in years past—with less hype and more empty chairs.
The conference devoted to crypto’s most dominant coin attracted around 35,000 people last year, according to the event’s website, featuring speakers like the NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the tennis legend Serena Williams.
But a steep decline in digital asset prices and a wave of crypto-native blowups has dampened attendance. The conference organizers expect to see 15,000 attendees at what they call “the world’s largest Bitcoin gathering.”
“It's not wall-to-wall packed like it normally is,” said Andre Hicks, a traveling nurse based in upstate New York, who’s attended the Miami-based Bitcoin conference for the past two years. “I've never ever been to one where it was just like a dead bear market like it is now.”
He attributed the lack of people present to a decline in disposable income for the average person, pointing to factors like high inflation. He also said most people would prefer to attend a conference where Bitcoin was rising as opposed to one where its price is depressed.
“Everybody wants to win,” Hicks said. “But nobody wants to go through the stacking phase, actually teaching yourself about cryptocurrency.”
General admission tickets to Bitcoin 2023 cost nearly $1,000, but the cheapest option among tickets only grants attendees access to two of the conferences three days. Conference goers who spent an extra $1,300 got access to an Industry Pass, which granted them access to events set aside for Bitcoin-related businesses yesterday.
“They'll get a lot more people here tomorrow,” said Sam Miyakawa, an open-source developer who’s interested in decentralized social media and contributes to Snort Social, a nostr-based project. “I didn't expect that many people to be here.”
Compared to Bitcoin 2022, which Miyakawa also attended, it only makes sense that fewer people would attend this year, he said. He noted that when Bitcoin 2022 took place last April, crypto was just coming off a bull market.
In the conference’s press room, where speakers mingled with influencers and reporters, Will Laurent, a contract worker for DFINITY, said it felt like a ghost town compared to last year.
During Bitcoin 2022, the press room was packed, Laurent said, as people clamored to interview speakers like the Canadian entrepreneur and “Shark Tank” star Kevin O’Leary or the Bitcoin Foundation’s Chairman, Brock Pierce.
“They still might come in,” Laurent said, referring to the two former speakers. “But where are all the other people?”