While companies grapple with the consequences of the ongoing pandemic, the crypto industry is in pretty good shape. For a start, several major platforms – including exchanges such as Kraken – have employed dispersed workforces since day one. Others, like Messari and Coinbase, have gone remote-first indefinitely and canceled all business travel.
Remote bitcoin events have been boosted by the postponement or cancellation of real world crypto conferences due to the coronavirus outbreak.
With many employees now working from home where possible, firms have begun switching to virtual meetings, prompting renewed interest in VR equipment and hinting at the decentralized future of crypto meetings and events.
No Office, No Problem: Business as Usual in Crypto
Generally speaking, crypto is extremely mobile with a disproportionately high percentage of freelance and remote workers, from developers, designers and programmers to content managers, analysts and consultants. Indeed, many crypto projects don’t have a physical headquarters and for all intents and purposes exist in the digital realm.
Physical headquarters create a single point of failure. @CasaHODL is a remote-only company.
— Jameson Lopp (@lopp) March 10, 2020
So while centralized tech giants like Apple, Google, and Amazon may see productivity fall as offices fall dark, that shouldn’t be the case for the Messaris and Coinbases of the world. At least not to the same extent.
A Clutch of Canceled Crypto Events
Of course, meatspace events, conferences, hackathons and meetings are a staple of the cryptosphere, drawing thousands of delegates from all over the world. But with physical gatherings being strongly discouraged by governments, a pivot towards virtual conferences is inevitable.
The world’s largest blockchain expo, scheduled for March 17 in London, was delayed indefinitely due to the pandemic and so too was Bitcoin 2020 in San Francisco. The Paris Blockchain Week Summit was another major crypto gathering pushed back until the end of the year. Expect more dominos to fall in the weeks and months ahead as event organizers pull the plug. But do such industry events really have to be canceled, or can they happen online?
Remote Meetings Draw Near
Remote events, albeit on a smaller scale than grand conferences in lush locales, have been quick to fill the void. Bitcoin meet-ups on the horizon include March 14’s Lightning Loop, a virtual conference featuring Lightning Lab’s Alex Bosworth, and March 17’s Socratic Seminar featuring Michael Folkson, organizer of the London Bitcoin Devs meet-up group. Those keen to dial in can find more details on the Bitcoin VR Degenerates Telegram.
Tech conference Collision, meanwhile, has announced that its June event will go ahead – only it won’t happen in Toronto but online, with the conference rechristened Collision from Home. In a blog post, the firm said previous attendees had already availed themselves of web and mobile to virtually engage with fellow delegates, watch presentations, and participate in workshops from the comfort of their homes.
Companies such as Hopin, an all-in-one live events platform for distributed online communities, seem like the most likely profiteers of a scenario where networking events occur online rather than in-person. Actually, we are spoiled for choice when it comes to telepresence video solutions.
Our team did all of our 1:1s in VR today, had a team-wide happy hour last night, and some of us have migrated to full VR work settings.
We are working remote for an unknown amount of time and I am SUPER bullish on VR https://t.co/svba2q2D9J
— Eric Turner (@ericturnr) March 10, 2020
One annual gathering that won’t have to postpone or cancel is Remote Crypto Con, scheduled for June 24-26. It’s already tabbed the likes of Coinshares’ Meltem Demirors and The Block’s Mike Dudas as speakers.
Could this become the norm? In the short term, yes. Messari chief Ryan Selkis has urged “anyone in crypto to spend $200 on a VR headset before there are shortages. The tech isn’t perfect, but it’s very good. Get familiar with the platforms, and keep community strong during what will likely be a prolonged shutdown of live events.”
While a move towards more mobile workforces might occur after the pandemic has passed, it could – Selkis suggests – manifest in remote employees using VR headsets to create the impression of working side-by-side with colleagues in the same physical space. Immersive AR/VR hardware and software can create a more engaging experience than can be provided from simply dialing into a conference. The coronavirus might cause the streets to empty, but crypto communities needn’t disappear.