Token Summit IV

Chris Burniske reminded me yesterday of something I said a while ago:

We are in the post crash cycle in crypto and that has made the sector interesting to me again. Prices are way down and there is a lot of great work being done on projects we are invested in and projects we want to invest in.

And no better place to soak up all of that progress than at Token Summit IV, run by our friends William Mougayar and Nick Tomainoon May 16th in NYC.

When William asked me if I thought they should do it this year, I said “hell yes” but also suggested that they dial it back in line with crypto prices. And that is what they have done.

They are capping the number of attendees at 550, about the same number they had at the inaugural Token Summit in May 2017. They are planning to do it at an intimate venue and keep the content and attendee list very tight.

The first 200 early bird tickets are available for purchase immediately at a price of $699. After 200, anyone can sign up but they will be “invite only” and they are selecting signups based on quality, experience and diversity of thought they bring.

This year’s Token Summit will focus on the following issues:

  • Cryptonetworks and open source blockchain protocols versus startups: what are the differences and similarities?
  • Open finance: what are the challenges to getting open, global financial products in the hands of millions of users?
  • dApp development: can next-generation dApp platforms be a catalyst for greater adoption?
  • Latest practices in extracting blockchain data for insight: what can we learn and why is this important now?
  • Are we decentralized yet? Is there an optimal criteria for decentralization, and how do we get there?
  • How do we quantify the value of blockchain protocols, and applications?
  • What are the success factors in deploying decentralized protocols?
  • Decentralized governance – what is working now versus what is experimental?
  • Tokens evolution- what are the best cases with real innovation, real users and real benefits?
  • The regulatory front: Is the US losing its position as the standard bearer? Is there a perfect jurisdiction?


Comments (Archived):

  1. JamesHRH

    This seems like a nerd ball SW agenda. Deep plumbing.And a hopeless financial utopian agenda.I am still consistently surprised by how little value creation opportunity I see here.A job that is already being done well (SW) and a job that only criminals desire ( finance ).Best of luck.

    1. William Mougayar

      Well, these are the real issues facing those in the trenches. We like to say this is a real insiders conference and we already have a track record with it.

      1. JamesHRH

        We agree 100%.

    2. kidmercury

      the value creation opportunity is getting clearer by the day, if you wait till it is fully built then the opportunity is gone. the clearest, most tangible opportunity in my opinion is in revenue sharing tokens, and probably the most visible example of that is binancecoin. i think binancecoin is shaping up to be a great template that many tokens will be able to employ with some degree of success.

      1. JamesHRH

        Isn’t there an app – well, actually, several apps – for that?

  2. awaldstein

    I’ll be there.We need a smaller group discussion to enable more nuanced discussions.It’s a bit pricey but I trust William and Nick to make it worth my money.Like that it is a full refund up to a week prior.

  3. falicon

    I like the idea. I hate the price.(to be fair, I hate the price of all conferences and as a result attend near zero; cost-to-direct-value has almost never worked out for me personally).I do look forward to the (free) summary, details, and learning that come out of it all though.

    1. jason wright

      Base Coin I? I’m sure there’s a significant untapped sentiment out there that you are describing.

    2. kidmercury

      i do think conferences can be a great value if the cost is proportional to your budget. problem is all-in (travel, lodging, conference ticket, etc) cost to attend these conferences is going to be a few thousand. for larger budgets probably definitely worth it, but if you are on a budget of $25k or less, that is kinda a sizable percentage.

    3. Salt Shaker

      The value of attending conferences, based on my experience, is inextricably linked to the time and effort an attendee expends on “working it.” In other words, it’s a network opportunity as much as anything else. That said, the notion that acceptance of remaining signups will be based on the “quality, experience and diversity of thought they bring” is a bit weird. It rings like we’ll vet attendees based how they they can enhance the value prop of the conference w/ their thoughts and ideas, and for the honor and privilege of sharing such valued high end intellectual knowledge, they get to contribute $699. Wish Wm and others only the best, though.

      1. jason wright

        “invite only” – no need to sign up. so reassuring. flight booked.

        1. William Mougayar

          Are you planning on coming? Email me.

      2. falicon

        Yes. Networking is a *huge* part of the value of these things…the challenge is that it’s often weak, scattered, and rushed…most of the connections don’t stick or are difficult to grow beyond the event. It also often takes away from the “education” opps within the conference.It can be done. It is done. But it’s an expensive way to get it done, and often not as genuine or personal as I would like….but might just be me.

      3. awaldstein

        Well stated.One of the coolest conference ideas I’ve seen lately popped up at this one– –really interesting one btw.Basically they provide access to space and publicity so anyone who attends can gather small or large groups from within the attendees to open adjacent topic discussions.

        1. William Mougayar

          Like an un-conference. That fits certain topics and communities I agree.

          1. awaldstein

            It is topic specific I agree, and invariably fits a longer conference.BTW–thrilled to see you guys do this.

      4. William Mougayar

        Thanks Salt 🙂 We were sold out in the past 3 events, and feedback from attendees is that the first Token Summit was the best because of the quality of attendees. We don’t want to maximize our revenues just so we can have more attendees, as some other conferences do.Attendees and networking are a key benefit in top conferences, and we’d like to keep it that way. If you seem to be a novice and want to learn about blockchain, this isn’t probably the conference you would attend. We are attracting and targeting attendees with some degree of experience and in the trenches. It is not cheap to host an event in a 1st class location, and offer good catering, and a pleasant environment in New York.DLD and TED for example are by invitation only. I think we have earned the right (and have the track record) to run it this way.

        1. Adam Sher

          Good approach, and good luck with your event. I shared the event link with several people I know who are building blockchain products. By contrast, youngStartup Venture summits are about packing bodies in the rooms. It’s very hard to network there b/c the itinerary keeps the companies and money separate.

        2. Salt Shaker

          Fair enough. Best of luck from a bonafide novice:)

          1. Kesha

            On line job opportunities are becoming a emerging trend in all over world these days. Latest study illustrates over 76% of people are doing work in web-based jobs from home without any complications. Every person really wants to hang out with his/her good friends by going to any lovely place in the world. So internet based earning enables you to accomplish the work at any time you want and enjoy your life. However determining the right track and establishing the right aim is our milestone in direction of financial success. Already a lot of people are getting such a great pay check of $30000 each and every week by utilizing highly recommended as well as powerful strategies of generating income online. You will start to get paid from the 1st day at the time you browse through our web-site. >>>>>

    4. Kirsten Lambertsen

      That’s my first reaction to most conferences I contemplate attending.

    5. awaldstein

      I don’t like or hate prices, they are either worth it to me and within the budget or not.Items that stretch need to make me trust them more that they will deliver is all and have open cancellation policies.

  4. jason wright

    This is what George Lucas should have done with Star Wars, but didn’t.

  5. Ben Longstaff

    I enjoyed this last year, the you buy the cat, then you buy a hat for the cat and when you sell the cat it takes the hat analogy was my highlight of blockchain week.

  6. Tom Labus

    Roll the dice! Who knows what’s next these days!

  7. Ben Longstaff

    it would be a cool experiment to have some aspect of the conference managed through Aragon so that ticket holders can vote and influence the planning of the event and have the learnings of the experiment presented at the conference

    1. kidmercury

      agreed….plus all these token conferences selling their tickets in DOLLARS… c’mon now

      1. William Mougayar

        Trick is that many attendees aren’t able to pay in crypto. It would be nice as an option.

    2. William Mougayar

      Why do I need a blockchain to get feedback or voting on topics? Consensus is not good for all decision-making. We are curating the conference based on our insights, what we know and who we know. You can’t replace that type of experience with automation or autonomous actions.But we will discuss that very issue in one of the panels. Maybe I will invite Luis to come and stand the heat of scrutiny on where to apply Aragon.

      1. Ben Longstaff

        The conference doesn’t need a blockchain to get feedback.It could be for something trivial like vote on which crypto kitty should be the conference mascot.I think it would be a novel learning experience for the participants to take part in to get first hand experience with the on boarding and flow of voting on Aragon. The to also have someone walk through how to see the results of the process on the blockchain and what it looks like in a real life example that they took part in.

  8. kidmercury

    i’m not able to justify dropping $700 on this but will definitely apply for the free invite. this is for sure the time to invest. if there is a special way to apply for the free pass (aside from spamming william 🙂 ) please feel free to share if anyone knows.another post crash investment framework, which i believe i first encountered in an interview of stanley druckenmiller by jack schwager (though i could be entirely wrong about that recollection), is to buy assets that fared the best during the cyclical downturn, as they are probably the most promising but will also lead the way out and outperform when the sector as a whole rebounds. i think that is a simple framework with some merit this time around as well, especially in the ethereum token market.

    1. sigmaalgebra

      Uh, sure, in an analogy, if I have my eye on a 750 HP Corvette and suddenly Chevy lowers the price $30,000, they will get my attention. But this is because I’ve been lusting for such a Corvette since ,,, way back there. And by the time I could buy one with $30,000 off, I could and would already have bought one at a more normal price. Uh, for such a Corvette I’d also want a big, well equipped garage with HVAC and washing facilities, lots of documentation, tools, and spare parts, a lift, extra wheels, at least a full set of separate wheels and mounted tires for summer or winter. That is, the $30,000 is not the only cost consideration: I could blow 10 times that in the garage setup.With Corvette as an analogy, for investing, sure, if have eye on some good investment and the price suddenly falls, then maybe pay more attention and invest. But if it was a good investment before the prices fall, then maybe it was good afterward.Okay; okay; I get it: Surviving the market crash was a form of a stress test, a trial of fire, a Darwinian filter, a proof of worth, showing that there is a hidden but solid core of functionality and value.To me, this is all too indirect to have much promise: In the Corvette analogy, I can study the thing and evaluate its engineering: (1) Titanium connecting rods to reduce mass and, thus, inertial loads, important above 5000 RPM; (2) front engine but rear mounted transmission for better weight balance, not so much on the front wheels; (3) Brembo brakes; (4) carbon fiber body panels, light, strong, corrosion resistant; (5) apparently a really exceptionally strong frame ….Then in the investing connection with the Corvette analogy, just look at the candidate investments one by one. Look for things that are solid and valuable. If find those, then don’t have to wait for a market crash to get good ROI or use surviving the crash as a significant sign of value.Or maybe might talk up the market segment when the market is down saying at the lower prices have big bargains of better proven companies all the while still not finding really good answers to just what the heck the utility of crypto will be for legal purposes. Hmm ….Or maybe more generally for crypto, just hover over at 20,000 feet on the suspicion that there will be some big winners down there somewhere for whatever reason and purpose and watching carefully will permit buying low and selling high.There’s another example that might be relevant: Sell the sizzle, not the steak. Or with enough excitement in a market, make money off the excitement even if fundamentally there is no real utility at all. E.g., there is NOTHING to the threat of CO2 to the climate, but, still, some people are making money off all the attention. Or, “The trend is your friend.”. Or “Strike while the iron is hot.”. Or when everyone wants to buy, then sell; when everyone wants to sell, then buy. Fads are like waves — they can be ridden. So, when see a fad, ride it. Maybe can sell surfboards even when there are no waves yet. Ah, in all the math I studied, they never explicitly mentioned applications to the dynamics of fads!

  9. JLM

    .Admission priced in $$$?Haha. Ponder that.Break a leg, Wm.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    1. JamesHRH


      1. William Mougayar

        We have taken crypto from sponsors and some odd requests will ask if they can pay in Bitcoin or ETH and we say Yesss!

    2. William Mougayar

      I am not a blockchain maximalist, despite being an early supporter and cheerleader. If Eventbrite accepted crypto payments, I would add it. Reality trumps cuteness.

    3. William Mougayar

      That said, we have taken crypto from sponsors and some odd requests will ask if they can pay in Bitcoin or ETH and we say Yesss!

    4. Mark Essel

      That’s not a crazy ask, the trick is moving up the chain and growing the conference carefully to include banking pros for $$$$ or corporate sponsored professionals. Maybe expand to 2 conferences a year.Conferences are a sweet business as long as you enjoy logistics management.I haven’t been watching crypto dev very closely the past year or so but they are still working on the larger hurdles (trx / sec, is it really distributed, who really needs it). I’m still waiting for instant verification of (home) ownership. Title searches can take weeks and even months.

  10. Guy Lepage

    It takes real grit to invest in a downturn. But this is the start to seeing who the winners will be.. I’m in fundraising mode… Hoping to attend and chat with folks.

  11. John Pepper

    I just pulled the trigger. Life is short. If nothing else new people, new ideas, optimism. Good things these days.

    1. William Mougayar


  12. cavepainting

    @wmoug:disqus Do you plan to livestream the event? That will really help! Cheers and wishing you the very best.

    1. William Mougayar

      Probably not, again to keep costs down. But we will video tape all sessions and typically publish them freely 1 week later.

  13. Pointsandfigures

    one topic that might be interesting is counter intuitive. What if this all is just a facade and not meaningful?

    1. sigmaalgebra

      Then it may be like Leslie Wexner or Chanel fashion fads — i.e., not nearly as “meaningful” as Levi’s 501 blue jeans from indigo dye on canvas from sailing ships and held together with double seams, heavy thread, and brass rivets!!Or it may be like the hideous threat of global warming, climate change, and destroying the earth from human sources of CO2 — apparently Saint Laureate Al Guru, Elon Musk, the NYT, NBC, various sources of solar panels and windmills have gotten biggie subsidies and/or revenue from that scam, totally not at all “meaningful”?So, the question is, what happens when a society is close to good supplies of food, clothing, shelter, transportation, medical care, education, recreation, insurance against risks, education for the kids, and retirement for the parents? SURE!!!! Free to smoke funny stuff, scorn anything new and “meaningful”, drift off into la-la land led by Governor Moonbeam and his annual California Roast forest fires, several $billion bullet train to nowhere, wild emotionalism, bottom low discipline for anything “meaningful”, and general waste and uselessness! Also a general sense of and low productivity which leads to feelings of worthlessness and depression, the rest of the descending psycho symptoms, drinking Drain-o and then Kool-Aid, etc.

      1. Mark Essel


  14. sigmaalgebra

    That’s a lot of detail, a lot of apparently well formulated questions. Looks like there is at least one VC who at least on one topic actually has the claimed and coveted “deep domain knowledge”. Looks like good efforts in research on the topic.But, but, but, as far as I can see, crypto is still a solution looking for a significant practical problem where crypto is the best or a really good solution. Academics is awash in solutions looking for problems, and as a math student I had to try to see what math topics had good promise of utility and what topics didn’t. Over time I got some surprises and refined judgment.One skeptic I met asked for two good, real problems saying that it was too common to dream up just one, so ask for two.Okay; okay; some people have bang up, over the top applications for crypto but so far are keeping that intellectual property quiet!!!! When they give their big success party on their 400′ yacht in Long Island Sound, I’ll try to get an invitation!!!

  15. kenberger

    “We are in the post crash cycle in crypto”–How do we know that?

    1. Lawrence Brass

      flames, smoke and a stinky rubber smell, usually.. 🙂

      1. kenberger

        you get all of that *during* the crash, do we know we’re not still *mid*-crash, rather than post-crash, was my point.The Perez graphs in the old post referenced here show cycles that ebb and flow, but still persist trending upwards. How do we know that we’re not actually in a parabola that is still going down (even to zero, as some claim)?I really want the assumption to be correct that we’re already out of the crash, I would do some key career things differently if I could really assume that. And I’m optimistic that it is true, I’d love to see support for it.

        1. Lawrence Brass

          Today, I think this:The underlying technology won’t go away. Never. New implementations coming.The top four won’t go away and will more or less hold their current value. No more bull-on-cocaine runs as 2017’s for now. They shouldn’t deviate much from other assets oscillations.Many smaller blockchains/ICOs will go down, sooner or later. Not necessarily due to an inherent crypto reason, just because the underlying promise/business won’t hold. These are perhaps the echoes of the correction-crash. Evolutive cleansing. How this will affect the whole market or buyer/investor confidence? I don’t know.

    2. William Mougayar :)Do you think it might get worse?

      1. kenberger

        Those charts today only tell us a crash recently happened, I’m not sure how they support current times being post-crash. Stating assertively that we are right now post-crash implies the crash is over, and therefore we’re not still falling.My opinion on get worse is aside– this post just seems to me presumptive that we are in fact now in recovery mode… I for one certainly hope that’s true and partial to believing it, I just don’t see the evidence yet but would love to be pointed to it. I hear naysayers every day arguing everything goes to zero; I’d like to dismiss them but these charts don’t necessarily refute them.

        1. jason wright

          I read that the number of wallets holding BTC is rising. Isn’t everything going to zero in the opposite direction?

  16. Donna Brewington White

    I thoroughly enjoyed the San Francisco event in 2017. Wonderful to see William in his element. Was floored by the interview with Naval.I was on the phone in the hallway negotiating a hire for a crypto client during part of the event. 🙂 Felt very apropos.Someday would love to attend the NYC version. Probably not this year, alas.

    1. William Mougayar

      Thank you Donna.

  17. Fran Strajnar (@techemist)

    Can you host it at a better venue this time? Last one was in a basketball court and the speakers echo’d around – was impossible to have a conversation anywhere on the premise.