Bitcoin 2013 to draw 1,000, and the Winklevii, to San Jose this weekend

Carrie Kirby
May 17, 2013 at 09:52 UTC
Updated Jul 4, 2013 at 17:19 UTC

More than a thousand Bitcoin community members will descend on Silicon Valley this weekend for what organizers call the first major US summit on the digital currency.

Organized by the Bitcoin Foundation, Bitcoin 2013 will cover most aspects of the currency experiment, with sessions focused on how businesses can accept bitcoins, entrepreneurship in the space, and dealing with regulatory compliance. The US Department of Homeland Security’s seizure of Mt. Gox funds from a Dwolla account this week is sure to be a hot topic during the panel on that last topic.

“We hope to foster our mission of standardizing, promoting and protecting Bitcoin,” said Bitcoin Foundation assistant director Lindsay Holland in an email to CoinDesk. The foundation expects the show to be an annual event.

Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss are set to kick off the event with a Friday night keynote address. The identical twins, known collectively as the Winklevii, reportedly own one of the largest single bitcoin stashes. Before they started buying bitcoins, they were known for accusing Mark Zuckerberg in court of stealing the idea for Facebook from a social network they started at Harvard — with Zuck as one of their employees. The Winklevii received a settlement now worth about $220 million, according to the New York Times. It appears that they’ve sunk a chunk of their settlement into bitcoin.

Other stand-out speakers will include Bitcoin Foundation chief scientist Gavin Andresen, who will give a “State of the Union” overview of Bitcoin; BitPay co-founder and CEO Tony Gallippi, who will discuss how to drive businesses to use bitcoins; investor Roger Ver, who will help business owners learn how to use bitcoins; and Charlie Shrem, co-founder and CEO of BitInstant, who will discuss cash deposits.

Attendees can hear from businesspeople in the trenches — including a doctor — who accept bitcoins. And the libertarian element of the community will be represented with presentations by speakers such as medical marijuana activist Steve Kubby and Seasteading Institute ambassador Lasse Birk Olesen.

For would-be bitcoin entrepreneurs, there will be a hackathon where teams can pitch Draper Associates, Benchmark Capital and other venture capitalists before settling in for an all-night work session on projects to be judged Sunday.

The exhibition hall will feature booths for Coinbase, OpenCoin, CoinLab and other companies and organizations in the space. RoboCoin says it will unveil its bitcoin kiosk, where users can use cash to buy bitcoins or convert bitcoins into fiat currency. If you prefer the human touch, you can buy your coins at the expo’s Bitcoin store. And a Bitcoin Help Desk will have experts on hand — including Ver — to answer attendees’ questions.

Attendees can even watch a trailer for the unreleased documentary The Rise and Rise of Bitcoin.

One name pointedly not included on the speaker or exhibitor lists: Satoshi Nakamoto. Will the mysterious inventor or inventors of Bitcoin be at the show? No one knows — or, for that matter, would be likely to know — even if they found themselves sharing a lunch table with Nakamoto himself. Or herself. Or themselves.

Bitcoin 2013 is at the San Jose Convention Center Friday, May 17 through Sunday, May 19. Tickets are $350 at the door — BTC rate determined by market prices.

CoinDesk will be bringing you full coverage of the conference all weekend and more analysis next week.

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