The floor of the penthouse at Hotel on Rivington is littered beer foam and torn U.S. dollar bills. Max Keiser, the colorful commentator for RT—the Russian government’s mainstream propaganda cable network—tore the bills during his keynote speech while making a point about fiat money being worthless. This is the end of blockchain’s big Consensus conference. The consensus on Consensus is that blockchain technology will transform the world. But tonight it will transform the future prospects of one partygoer who won a $6,000 mining rig for chugging a beer.
The opulent party was one of the few events listed during Consensus that was open to the public. One of the great things about the crypto world is that it’s supposed to be open to everybody. However, the $1,800 price tag on Consensus put the three-day event out of the price range of most casual crypto enthusiasts. But not for independent crypto trader Wade Love, who paid the 1 ETH price of admission (~$600) to get into the party.
“Truth be told, I wasn’t originally planning on going to the Stasis party,” Love told Modern Consensus. “I was burnt out from three days of networking at Consensus and multiple other parties just like it. Let’s be honest though, it was the chance to win the Comino mining rig that really got me to go.”
The Comino is a 200 (±5 percent) Mh/s Ethereum computer server that runs eight graphics cards simultaneously. It retails for €4999, paid in Ethereum or bitcoin. But if you pay in fiat or credit card, you have to make the purchase in person at their offices conveniently located in Cyprus, Latvia, Moscow, Shenzhen. Shipping to the States is extra.
The Comino keeps the Ethereum blockchain running smoothly and users earn cryptocurrency in exchange for lending their computing power. As one partygoer put it: “This is a machine that can print money.”
Even with crypto markets falling after Consensus, it still might be a great week to get into mining. Mining rigs like the Comino work at a steady pace, meaning that when markets are low they can stack up cryptocurrency. A single bitcoin mined in May 2017 is worth four times as much in May 2018.
(Oh man, this dubstep video about the miner makes it sound like it was built in the montage of a boxing movie.)
Partygoers were supposed to put their business card in a fishbowl on the way in for a chance at a number of raffle prizes. The night started off like the parties you see in the HBO show Silicon Valley. Grandiose location, full open bar on two floors, a grand rooftop view and a bunch of tech dudes on their phones not talking to anyone.
Legendary venture capitalist Tim Draper chimed in on Skype halfway through the night. Draper was the founder of VC powerhouse Draper Fisher Jurvetson and is the guy pushing to divide California into multiple states. He also made headlines when he purchased almost 30,000 Bitcoin seized from Silk Road.
Wade watched as Draper, in his trademark bitcoin necktie, gave a rally speech about the death of fiat and the future in the crypto world. Slight technical problems prevented Draper from hearing most of audience questions during the Q&A portion. But the old pro had plenty to say without quite hearing the audience.
Draper—along with Henri Arslanian from PricewaterhouseCoopers and the fiat-tearing Keiser—were invited to the party to unveil a new product called Stasis. For most of the party, the new product remained unaddressed. A printed paper prospectus lay on the table next to Love during the keynote. It’s plastic binding spine had been install backwards. No one noticed.
(Stasis, as far as we can tell from the working prospectus, is an Exante product that looks to be the Euro version of USD Tether. Yes, the coin that they just print whenever they feel like it. It’s a stable coin with a 1:1 value exchange built onto the Ethereum blockchain. It is tokenized fiat. Is two transaction/second impressive? Not really. Would this reporter prefer a Stasis payment instead of the $15 wire transfer fee I pay for the two French magazines I write for? Yes.)
But people didn’t pay to get into this party to hear about how cryptomillionaires got rich in the past. They’re here to talk about the future and, hopefully, get a little edge on the markets. When asked if there were any good books to read about the crypto markets, Draper said, “I’d read science fiction writers. I know from experience they are always right.”
Still, Love stuck it out when others left. “Being mildly socially awkward around billion dollar blue bloods, I instantly gravitated towards the people who were only partially wearing a social mask. Those people ended up being the comedian who was tonight’s entertainment.” The crowd was mostly male, with an attractive young wait staff serving an upstairs buffet a drinks.
What makes crypto exciting, and maybe even fun sometimes, is the volatility. And for that, the party had comedian Dave Landeau. The Michigan based comedian was previously on NBC’s Last Comic Standing and currently commutes to New York to be on The Anthony Cumia Show (formerly of Opie and Anthony). “I don’t really know what you guys do here. But some of your look rich. Can you tell me how to get rich?”
As Landeau started calling raffle winners towards the end of the party, he found very few of them in attendance. “Instead of the 2,000 expected people going to the Stasis party there were roughly… 50,” Love told Modern Consensus. “So, the comedian, with the permission of the Stasis CEO, decided to switch things up.”
Without knowing what a cryptocurrency mining rig is, Landau decided that the winner would be chosen by a beer chugging contest.
“Suits and jackets came off for the inevitable spillage of ale,” Love told Modern Consensus later by email. “And everyone took their places in a half circle around the judges and cameras. On the count of three everyone began pouring their beer down their throats (and occasionally shirts).”
“I felt the urge to gag and spit it up, then I thought of the Comino and I just repressed that urge until I finished.” With beer foam spilling down many a tech bro’s shirts many gave up. But Love knelt down and placed his beer on the floor. Done.
“I have to say,” Love later told Modern Consensus, “I prefer this to a normal raffle.”
Love is now back in San Diego where he trades Cardano and other major coins on a regular basis. He teaches private lessons about blockchain technology and is hoping to expand.
“As far as plans go for the Comino miner, I want to use it as a sort of point of interest to draw people into blockchain tech and cryptocurrency trading when I begin teaching my students in San Diego how to make a full time income with day trading crypto. I want to hopefully give back to the community that has given me so much wealth and happiness in my life.”
Dave Landeau will be at the Gotham Comedy Club on May 29, 2018. There are no plans to give away any mining rigs for chugging beers.