Whether companies' enthusiasm for digital currencies is overdone remains to be seen. But the hype runs high. Several large cryptocurrency companies also rented out grand venues.
BitFlyer, the Japanese-based bitcoin exchange and the largest in the world by trading volume, celebrated its U.S. launch Tuesday with drinks, a cake and blue and orange balloons on the 48th floor of the Marriott Marquis. Aptly named "The View," the revolving restaurant and lounge looked out onto the center of New York's skyscrapers.
A few blocks away, Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne held a party in a private room of the Hunt & Fish Club steakhouse. The company's stock has soared nearly 200 percent this year on news of Overstock's quiet investments and development of blockchain companies such as tZero. Downtown at the financial district's India House, blockchain enterprise software company Bloq was slated to co-host a private cocktail reception featuring "crypto art."
Gabor Gurbacs is an early crypto investor, mathematician and director of digital asset strategy at exchange-traded fund company VanEck. He said he also attended receptions hosted separately by bitcoin mercantile exchange BitMex, cryptocurrency trading company Circle Trading and a few others in midtown Manhattan. Circle also hosted a reception for all Consensus attendees in an 8th-floor Marriott lounge with views of Time Square.
"While 57th-floor lofts are fancy and there is no shortage of casually dressed crypto millionaires, what's amazing is the energy and creativity in this space," Gurbacs said in an email. "We are building the internet 3.0., the next chapter in financial services and I have never seen such pervasive excitement about anything in my lifetime."
Companies also made more tangible announcements at Consensus Invest.
Salil Donde, formerly executive vice president, global information services, at Nasdaq, announced he was becoming CEO of AlphaPoint. The company uses bitcoin's blockchain technology to digitize real-world assets and also said Tuesday it is developing a public network for those assets.
Separately, TechCrunch founder Mike Arrington announced Tuesday he is launching a $100 million "cryptofund" with already more than $50 million committed. The fund will not be denominated in the two most popular digital currencies, bitcoin or ethereum. Instead, Arrington XRP Capital is denominated in XRP, the digital currency developed by Ripple. It ranks fourth by market capitalization, according to CoinMarketCap.
"ICOs are the future," Arrington said on stage Tuesday in reference to a new method of fundraising through digital coin issuance. "I used to spend a lot of time at Y Combinator. Two times a year. Huge batches of startups. I'm probably not going to go anymore."
"Right now, this is what I'm going to focus on for the next decade," Arrington said of cryptocurrencies. "I'm more excited about this industry than the web 2.0 industry when I started TechCrunch."