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DENVER—Podcaster Laura Shin hosted two sitting governors—Jared Polis of Colorado and Wyoming’s Mark Gordon—onstage Friday night at ETHDenver.
Though they’re from neighboring states and both friendly to crypto startups, the two governors are different in one key way: Polis is a Democrat and Gordon is a Republican. Yet despite Shin’s exhortations to reflect on partisanship and the national political scene, Polis and Gordon weren’t here for that. They just want people to come west and BUIDL.
Polis, a former tech entrepreneur who was a member of the Congressional Blockchain Caucus, said, “The distrust of centralized databases is something that exists on the political left and the political right. On the left, it might take the form of being more skeptical of corporate, centralized databases…on the right, it might take more of a form of being skeptical of government-centralized databases. But a distributed ledger solution solves both of those.”
Gordon is newer to tech, but his state last year passed numerous blockchain laws to make it the most crypto-friendly state in the nation. And it’s clear from his references to libertarianism what his priorities are: “I hope [blockchain] doesn’t become a partisan issue, because we can screw up almost anything. It’s just good business.”
And these two states want companies’ business, regardless of federal lawmakers’ or regulators’ stance on crypto. Said Polis, “There are absolutely blockchain companies today that are in Switzerland or in other countries because of a more favorable legal landscape…It’s easy for companies to domicile wherever they choose to domicile. So we need to remove anything that inhibits that kind of innovation in our state.”
Polis segued into boasting of the $50 million invested in Colorado blockchain companies, the presence of a chief blockchain architect at the state level, and a suite of bills geared toward digital tokens. For his part, Gordon estimated 40 token offerings had incorporated in Wyoming since 2019 and noted that mining operations had started popping up.
In other words, neither Wyoming nor Colorado are waiting for the federal government or regulators to give a green light for the crypto industry. And if that wasn’t clear, Polis pointed to Colorado’s legal cannabis industry, which is very much not legal federally. Governor Gordon added, “Jared and I often are in this situation where we’re the Wild West and you have to have a framework that works, but you really can take the lead and hopefully others come along behind.”
That doesn’t mean the two states aren’t keeping an eye on federal law—Gordon said Wyoming defined three digital asset classes and are trying to “build that into a framework that is comfortable for the SEC and others.” If Wyoming can do it, Gordon thinks other states may come along. Polis thought the federal government might come, too.
Regardless of when others come onboard, the two governors have positioned themselves as leaders in the industry and are ready for an influx into what Polis called “the Cheyenne-to-Denver Corridor.” The first-term governor concluded, “We’d love to have you here.”