Ernest N. Morial Convention Center came alive in our hometown New Orleans, Louisiana. Collision 2018 attracted leading CEOs, investors, and startup entrepreneurs to the city for a full slate of panel discussions, networking events, pitches, speeches, meetings, and more. The convention has developed a reputation as America’s fastest-growing tech conference. It is considered the American version of Web Summit, an annual tech event that attracts 10’s of thousands of attendees to Lisbon, Portugal every December.
The Collision conference was founded just 5 years ago and has grown quickly. This year it featured more than a dozen stages which are focused on specific industry tracks, such as marketing, design, coding, robotics, startups, and a question and answer stage. Panel discussions and presentations covered a large range of topics and industries. Typical focus was examining how technology is affecting these various sectors. This included transportation, toys, environmental sustainability, medical and health innovations, marketing, security and agriculture. Most notably for us, there were numerous blockchain projects, speeches, presentations, and even workshops that were scheduled. When I first got involved in the blockchain scene in 2013, the space was very niche, and far from mainstream. Now blockchain is a hot topic at a conference with speakers like the President of Microsoft, Brad Smith, or ex-US vice president, Al Gore, or the President of the ACLU, Susan Herman.
Tim Draper Always Inspiring
One of the most inspiring talks was with Tim Draper himself. He manages a large venture capital fund and is most widely known for his purchase of the silk road bitcoins in 2013. Draper started off with some strong comments “Blockchain, AI, Smart contracts, and Bitcoin, we can replace governments completely.” He continued to state truths about millennials and their “dislike of boards and fiat.” With these factors, Draper suspects that governments will be forced to compete with each other over offering the best experience to a citizen, who could more easily these days, travel to another country with better benefits.
This conversation came around with the thought that over regulation would hamper startup investment, especially for “old dinosaurs.” Instead startups are moving to other countries. The US fell to 11th place recently of the most innovative countries. With places like France moving quickly in the ranks from dead last just 5 years ago. He also stated that “…we have moved from 90% of venture capital flowing into the USA down to 80% and now 53%.” Of course we can see this anecdotally with the number of cryptocurrency startups like Lisk HQ settling in Switzerland because of the more friendly regulations there, compared to somewhere like the USA. Draper also mentioned he supported Universal Basic Income, and that people deserved better jobs that had meaning.
In closing, Draper was asked, “If you only had one hundred thousand dollars left, what would you invest it in?” He responded with a laugh as you got a great shot of his purple and gold bitcoin tie, “That’s easy, I’d put it all on Bitcoin.”
IBM <3 Blockchain
IBM was all about AI, machine learning, and especially blockchain. They had multiple booths, signs, interactive videos, and presentations devoted specifically to blockchain technology. They had people ready to answer questions and even had some interactive displays. You could follow the work flow of products like coffee being bought and sold in a LIVE feed from companies using IBM’s Hyperledger.
Having spent years feeling “underground” with blockchain technology; it was so fascinating watching the effort IBM was taking to spread these ideas to the masses. After seeing these displays we decided we had to check out IBM’s interactive presentation on how to launch a blockchain application using Hyperledger Fabric.
We were shown Hyperledger Fabric and it’s Chaincode which is written in Go and node.js. They had extensive tutorials and tools that could be accessed on their website or github.
For the demonstration IBM used The Fabric Compiler. We used the compiler to pick from a selection of smart contract templates. From tracking food products, to creating loans, to transferring mortgages. The presenter had to simply select the icon he wanted; in this case, a contract to transfer a car registration. It was selected and then a few parameters needed to be filled in, like the owner of the car registration, the car model and number, and the new owner. After also selecting how many nodes there should be among a few other parameters, the program gave us back entire sections of easy to use plain text code. The presenter mentioned that we were “modeling that app, and not coding it from scratch.” So then all that needed to be done, was to string it all the pieces from the compiler together and done! Alice could now track a car registration transfer to Bob on her very own smart contract running on her own nodes.
When asked if they IBM was devoted to blockchain technology, he responded with “Yes, furiously.” Although, the presenter made it very clear that IBM itself has a lack of developers (who are in ever increasing demand for innovative industries). Thus, they open source all of their work and additionally any work created on the hyperledger is shard with IBM so that they can have access to any development as well. After seeing the extensive work and tutorials, I think it is a very fair trade off to help the entire blockchain field develop. When asked about the development phase, he mentioned that full “readiness” would have to wait until 4.0, while we are currently just in version 1.1.
Overall, the simplicity was astonishing. Of course, hyperledger is permission based and has no token. So, when we left all I could think about was how amazing it would be for Lisk having a similar interface to launch sidechains and tokens. This is the future of blockchain technology.
Within the conference hundreds of startups talked, networked, and pitched their ideas. Several of these projects were focused on blockchain technology and many of them were still undecided on what to develop their platforms on.
We sorted through hundreds of startup booths over the 3 day convention which sported new exhibitions each day. We focused in on ones that were related to blockchain tech. Some had it advertised but many of the projects didn’t outright mention their involvement with the tech out right.
Soon we realized there was great interest, yet lack of knowledge, of blockchain technology. It was that moment that we knew it was an even better opportunity then we first expected. Not only was this a chance to learn about new and innovative projects, but to also help spread our knowledge of blockchain technology and specifically the up and coming Lisk decentralized application platform.
After some digging we were able to find projects that had yet to decide what platform to launch on. Since many of these projects were still very early in development it was the perfect time to pitch Lisk to them. Some of them had great ideas like using micropayments to help the needy, and didn’t realize the blockchain technology could be their best method for solving their goals.
We also networked with a lot of great people with varying blockchain projects. This includes being offered beer at the office of a decentralized ride sharing service in the Netherlands. To permission based enterprise solutions where we have plans to meet and advise the president of a local trade exchange Moxey. Regardless of the use case, lisk could be the perfect platform for these startups to launch a blockchain.
Also, we stopped by the free giveaway tables and left a few goodies like pens and shirts, which never lasted long before being scooped up by the attendees.
Investopedia & Bad Crypto Podcast
Just a few notable mentions go to The CEO of Investopedia, David Siegel. Who have a great talk on how they are using what terms people search for on their platform to predict market actions by creating an “Anxiety Index.” We also enjoyed some light education and entertainment from Joel and Travis from the Bad Crypto Podcast. Other notable presenters include John Zimmer, Co-Founder & President of Lyft; Elie Seidman, CEO of Tinder; Jeremy King, CTO of Walmart; Chris Slowe, CTO of reddit; and Anjali Sud, CEO of Vimeo.
In conclusion, the conference was an amazing experience. We met many great people from around the world, from many industries, all with a common interest in being part of innovating the future. We shared ideas teaching others about the potential of Lisk. We also learning a lot ourselves.
My biggest regret is that was that this was my first time attending such a great conference. “New Orleans is a very special town, but as Collision grows we sadly need to find a bigger and more globally connected home,” Cosgrave wrote April 11 in an online post. LiskUSA was glad to attend such a great conference it’s last year in NOLA. Maybe one day we will visit Collision in another city. As for LiskUSA, we will be looking out for more opportunities to spread the word of Lisk.
Be sure to check back for more information from LiskUSA!