Hailed as the premier crypto event in Asia, TOKEN2049 was awash with purple lights, buzzword-packed posters, and geometric logos of Web3 companies you may or may not have heard of. With projects ranging from security companies tracking down Do Kwon to new NFT projects touted as the “Son of Doge,” TOKEN2049 had something for everyone.
I attended the event on the 28th and 29th with a media pass for KrASIA, and though I had some ideas of what to expect, I wasn’t exactly sure what a Singapore-based crypto event would look like.
Spoiler alert: over the two days I was there I didn’t see anyone wearing extravagant costumes, there were no robots, and there were no self-promoting TOKEN2049 events or booths. It was a no-frills event.
Overall, TOKEN2049 was well organized, and the Marina Bay Sands Convention and Expo Center is beautiful, so it’s hard to have a bad time there. The event took place on the 5th floor, largely within three main halls:
- The big dogs — large booths from the likes of Polkadot, Google, AWS, and Ripple
- The middle guys — medium-sized booths featuring projects like MatrixPort and ZeroSwap
- The small fish — shoulder-to-shoulder booths, often only with standing room, featuring new projects.
Each day featured a unique lineup of speakers and panels covering everything from the downfall of Bitcoin and the rise of play-to-earn games to my personal favorite, aptly titled: “WTF is a Metaverse,” given by Robbie Cochrane, co-founder of ChainGuardians/Cryptoverse.
I’ll be honest: I expected the conference to be a mix of back-slapping cryptobros and stereotypical devs in hoodies and unkempt hair, but that was not the reality. While I did speak to many smart people focused on the technical side of their respective projects, everyone, on the whole, was quite professional. Marketing teams had their pitches down, visitors were asking thoughtful questions, and each panel/speaker event had good attendance. While people at the booths were interesting to speak with, most conversations ended with “Cool, we’ll talk later on Telegram. Want a t-shirt or a sticker?”
The event itself, however, fell flat. While intended as a networking/marketing event, it felt more like a smorgasbord of companies and projects rather than a uniquely branded experience that people would remember.
It’s just like Disney World — while it’s got Splash Mountain, Tower of Terror, and other rides, people mostly go because of the magical and memorable Disney experience. Or F1, which is a whole event in itself with its driver meet and greets, branded side-events, and F1 swag available nearly everywhere. Maybe it’s because it’s new, but TOKEN2049 lacked that personality as an event.
It was clean and well organized, and I’ll remember the unique projects I met with, the amount of project swag given out, and I’ll certainly never forget Teriyaki Boyz performing a three-song set. But in general, TOKEN2049, as a brand, fell short of the hype its marketing promised.
I suppose, though, that an event doesn’t need to be its own thing. TOKEN2049 fulfilled its purpose of providing a space for crypto projects, investors, and everyone in between to meet up, interact, and perhaps sign some deals. Smart people answered questions during panels, lunch was served (including vegetarian options), and side events began when they were scheduled to. At the end of the day, that’s about as much as one can ask for. I just wish the TOKEN2049 website didn’t include the tagline “More than just an event” and feature a guy in a fully sequined suit, along with a sequined top hat and cane. Sadly, he didn’t make it this year.
For anyone attending TOKEN2049 in London on November 9-10, 2022, I hope you have a great time and would love to hear what your experience was like. I hope you get the “frills” that Singapore was unfortunately lacking.
All opinions expressed in this piece are the writer’s own and do not represent the views of KrASIA. Questions, concerns, or fun facts can be sent to [email protected].