Wish you were here! Paragon at Consensus 2024

By Tom Murphy and Joni Medzadourian

There’s no denying that Consensus is the world’s largest (over 15,000 attendees this year!) and most influential conference for crypto, blockchain, and Web3. We were honored to represent Paragon, and our clients XDC Foundation and Securitize at this year’s event. Here’s a recap of our week in Austin, Texas, for everyone who couldn’t join us.

It was a rough start to our week with flight delays and cancellations of our connecting flight due to some storms in Texas. 

Luckily, the flights changed and we were able to catch an 8am flight the next morning. A long night with no sleep in Houston quickly turned into a fun and fulfilling week in Austin. 

The first thing to highlight is the XDC booth. 

The Paragon and XDC design teams had worked tirelessly for months to plan and design what would be a memorable exhibit experience. The booth design simulated XDC’s messaging, and guided people in toward the XDC lighthouse at the back. The XDC world within the booth, with its river analogy, came to life with “wisdom tree” cutouts, blue reflective lights, and an animated lighthouse. The planning and preparation put into the design was clearly effective. 

The booth received compliments all week long. Custom-designed, high-quality t-shirt giveaways, the XDC scooter raffle and cornhole games were natural draws for anybody walking the floor and looking to learn more.

After we were settled in at the booth, we made sure to bop around from panel to panel.

Tom: I enjoyed the panels centered around regulatory questions and the political climate in web3. 

CoinDesk has been generous enough to lift the paywall on these panels, so anybody that couldn’t make it to Austin can watch in full.

A couple of my personal favorite panels around that discussion include:

  • Nikhilesh De, CoinDesk’s managing editor for global policy and regulation, hosted a panel with Brian Nelson, the top U.S. official in charge of combating money laundering and terrorism
  • Vicky Huang of The Wall Street Journal leading a 1-on-1 discussion  with  Bernie Moreno, a candidate for U.S. Senate 

Outside of the panels, the politics of an election year seemed to seep its way into the entire week’s discussions. 

For the most part, there was an overwhelming sense of optimism that the political football of cryptocurrency and blockchain policy would finally be thrown in the right direction.

Staff Accounting Bulletin No. 121, or SAB121, the resolution to redefine how to account for cryptocurrency assets,  seemed on its way to approval. Although… all of this was before President Biden vetoed the bill on Friday. I wonder how different the mood of the conference would have been had that happened during the event instead of when most attendees were on their way to the airport.

No matter what the long-term future of that specific bill is, it’s clear the regulatory environment is going to continue to dominate discussions in the web3 space, seemingly all the way up until November’s US elections. 

Securitize takes center stage.

Joni: I sat in on many panels on the topics of tokenization, digital asset innovation, and the future of social networks. Some important standouts related to social media were the need to build open and welcoming communities, and focus on connections instead of performance metrics. The community focuses heavily on using platforms to incentivize public good.

One of our most anticipated panels of the week was the fireside chat between Securitize (cl) CEO and co-founder Carlos Domingo and Sergey Nazarov of Chainlink at the XRP Protocol Village stage. There’s been a buzz around Securitize since they became the transfer agent and tokenization platform for BlackRock’s BUIDL fund – the largest tokenized fund in just a few months since launching in late March. This was the first indicator that Carlos would be in high demand throughout the week.

Sergey is a huge voice in the crypto space, and he was highly complimentary of Carlos. They discussed BUIDL, and how tokenization brings efficiencies to the capital markets. Carlos called it “crypto speed” and Sergey was so excited about this his team used it as their title for the panel replay.

“I hope you keep pushing our industry forward and that we can work together in the future.” – Sergey Nazarov

Here’s a picture that we took of Carlos and Sergey after the lively discussion: 

​Next up was Carlos’ “Seriously Why Do You Need Blockchain for that?” panel.

This was an engaging discussion with Kaledora Kiernan-Linn of Ostium Labs and David Nuelle of Geneva Trading. 

For me, the most interesting topic was the discussion around public and private blockchains.

There seems to be a misconception that private blockchains are more important for security reasons, but the innovation achieved in a closed-off ecosystem has a diminishing return.

As Carlos said, “I don’t know anybody that uses a private blockchain if they have the option to use a public blockchain.”

Kudos to moderator Helene Braun too. She hosts CoinDesk’s Markets Daily podcast, a crucial listen if you’re looking to keep up on trends in the space. 

After little to no sleep the night before, we turned in early and were up at the crack of dawn on Thursday morning for some sightseeing and the true Austin experience. 

Tom: ​Thursday morning I popped over to the Texas State Capitol for some quick sightseeing away from the convention.

​Did you know the Texas State Capitol was built in 1888, is the largest state capitol building in the U.S., and stands taller than the U.S. Capitol?

Joni: Before heading to the Mainstage to hear Consensus announce two new locations for next year, I stopped for breakfast tacos at Revolución Coffee. It did not disappoint! Excitement was in the air and the XDC booth was gaining more attention, with lots of foot traffic in and around it. 

Then we were back to more  panels, including one with Carlos and executives from Robinhood and Offchain Labs. 

It was a million degrees out on that back patio, and the conversation was sizzling with hot topics.

Carlos had a ton of fantastic quotes about the regulatory climate and how Securitize emphasizes the value proposition of the American capital markets. This was just as chatter started around Carlos attending the House Financial Services Subcommittee next week. 

Tom: After some early afternoon interviews, Carlos and I stopped by the XDC booth for a photo. It’s always exciting to see clients connecting with one another. 

From there, we took Carlos to his CoinDesk TV interview.

​The segment was a strong ten minutes – touching on BUIDL, Securitize’s funding round from BlackRock, Tradeweb, Parafi and Hamilton Lane; as well as the regulatory discussion around tokenization. In fact, it was in this interview that Carlos broke the news that he’d been invited by Congressman Patrick McHenry to testify at the House Financial Services Subcommittee the following week. 

​​Jennifer Sanasie was on the CoinDesk TV anchor desk all week long, holding court with a range of interesting interviewees throughout the event.

A special thank you goes  to CoinDesk TV producer Melissa Montanez for booking Carlos, and all her hard work – day in, day out – lining up the best guests, covering all the trending topics in the crypto space. I imagine if you weren’t able to make it to Austin you were able to get a good feel for the event based on all the interviews Melissa and her team aired. 

Although that was the last of our scheduled events, the Paragon team showed no sign of slowing down.

Tom: ​For me, I’m still a reporter at heart, and my favorite part of these types of events is getting the chance to hear from all the best journalists in the space.

It was great to catch-up with Krisztian Sandor of CoinDesk for a few minutes. Krisztian is a go-to markets reporter with consistent scoops and thoughtful insights in all his reporting. I was grateful to have a quick chat with him to get a feel for the trends he’s watching. During the event he filed this report about the New York Stock Exchange’s view on crypto regulations and the opportunities for blockchain to improve traditional markets. 

​I also had the privilege of speaking with a number of other reporters. For example, even though this was a CoinDesk event, it was awesome to catch up with Blockworks’ Katherine Ross. Katherine just recently filed the 50th edition of her new Empire newsletter, and it was a pleasure to sit down with her to chat about the most compelling narratives she’s seeing when reporting. Looking forward to Permissionless in Salt Lake City this year. 

Nasdaq Trade Talks is always a fixture on the floor at these conventions, and I loved seeing Jill Malandrino and her entire team in action. If you haven’t seen their new panel format, make sure to check it out.

It was great to see the CNBC Crypto World team and their setup. We enjoyed the chance to watch Mackenzie Sigalos interview execs all week, with Jordan Smith behind the scenes lining up all the right conversations. Check out MacKenzie’s biggest takeaways from the conference here.

On Thursday night it was time to let our hair down at a very welcome happy hour with Securitize’s subsidiary, Onramp Invest, and an XDC party. 

At this point, the cowboy hat took over my identity like the Green Goblin mask from Spiderman.

We closed out our last day on Friday with a few more connections at the XDC booth, a Consensus pulled-pork sandwich, and XDC’s grand prize scooter giveaway (which happily went to an XDC community member!). 

​If you’re still making it through this, well done! We’ll conclude with some non-work notes.

The BBQ in Austin delivered on every promise. We grabbed a bite at a local spot called Cooper’s

Tom: As much as I wanted to say the BBQ ribs and the BBQ brisket was the best, I’m a traditionalist at heart and the BBQ chicken was by far the best. I can neither confirm nor deny reports that I took the leftovers for a Texas BBQ breakfast the next morning.

Joni: The best way to describe Cooper’s is a Texas-BBQ-style buffet. I was a big fan of all the side options and enjoyed the baked potato and mac and cheese! 

We’re grateful for our experience at Consensus and look forward to putting our conversations into action for more results for our clients. 

If you’re looking for support at your next event or interested in learning more about what we do, contact us: 

Thanks for following along and we hope to see you at Consensus 2025!

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