Ranked No. 9 overall, Austin was the 3rd U.S. hub on our list, coming behind Wyoming and Silicon Valley, California. Many of the Crypto Hubs’ criteria were measured on a national basis, so all of the U.S. hubs were hampered by a middling crypto regulatory score, which counted for 35% of the total ranking calculation. This negative was partially offset by the highest crypto adoption score in our sample, weighing 10% of the total. Among the U.S. hubs, Austin had the highest quality-of-life and ease-of-doing-business scores, but trailed Wyoming and Silicon Valley in opportunities, with lower per-capita crypto jobs, companies and events.
For more on the criteria and how we weighted them, see: How We Ranked CoinDesk’s Crypto Hubs 2023: Our Methodology.
Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, Austin ranked atop many lists of the best U.S. cities for remote working – thanks to its good connectivity, affordable housing costs, and thriving tech scene anchored by Dell and the University of Texas.
This is to say nothing of the intangibles like Austin’s outdoorsy vibe (it has temperate weather year-round except for three scorching summer months), creative food scene and renowned live-music venues.
All of that put the Texas capital on the map for a blockchain industry that, as much as any, has been remote-friendly for its 14-year history. Plus the allure of zero state income taxes proved too much to resist for many untethered-to-the-office crypto workers, and the scene now encompasses a wide range of developers, executives, traders, venture capitalists and Bitcoin miners.
Parker Lewis, who headed business development at the Austin-based Bitcoin startup Unchained Capital from 2018 to 2022, claimed Austin has surpassed New York, San Francisco and Seattle as the top home base for Bitcoin developers. As a lead organizer of several local Bitcoin meetups, he would know.
In particular, the city has attracted some of the savviest and most passionate bitcoiners. This includes developers Jimmy Song and Bryan Bishop, Blockstream’s Lisa Neigut, Lightning Labs’ Ryan Gentry and the podcaster Marty Bent.
“Once the gravitational force starts, it feeds itself,” Lewis, who’s now writing a book on Bitcoin, said in an interview.
He also helps to manage Bitcoin Commons, a coworking and events space that opened in January 2022. It is next to Unchained’s headquarters in the 117-year-old Littlefield building in downtown Austin. For $400 a month, Bitcoin-focused workers can plunk down at a shared working space that offers conference-room privileges, a full kitchen and drinks and snacks. One corporate sponsor of the space is Austin-based Trammell Venture Partners, a Bitcoin-focused investment firm led by Dustin Trammell, who says on his bio that he was the second node on the Bitcoin network.
Another early figure in helping to build the Austin Bitcoin community was Justin Moon, the co-founder of local startup Fedi that raised $17 million in May in a Series A fundraising and describes itself as a “federated operating system.” Bitcoin mining companies including Core Scientific and Riot Platforms have headquarters or operations in the Austin area; it goes without saying that the oil-rich state and its politicians have a history of supporting the energy industry and energy-intensive industrial operations.
Apart from Bitcoin, Austin’s Multicoin Capital, led by Kyle Samani and Tushar Jain, is one of the world’s biggest crypto-native investment firms, with exposure to foundational crypto projects from Algorand and Aptos to Solana and Worldcoin. The studio of NFT artist Tyler Hobbs, whose Fidenza collection fetches a floor price above $140,000, is from Austin.
Secret and not-so-secret meetups, festivals and fun
But it’s not all about work, Austin is home to several regularly-occurring crypto events, including meetups held in a privately-funded events space called Keiretsu in Austin’s swanky South Congress district. An organization called CabinDAO offers “creator residencies” funded by ether (ETH) contributions at a 28-acre retreat in Johnson City, an hour’s drive west of Austin in the Texas Hill Country.
Any article mentioning the crypto scene in Austin would be remiss if it didn't mention the conference that gathers the global crypto community (and no, I’m not talking about the Permissionless conference co-hosted by crypto media firms Blockworks and Bankless that’s scheduled for September). For the past two years, CoinDesk’s Consensus crypto festival, held at the Austin Convention Center, has helped put Austin on the map. And it’s happening again, soon.
ATX DAO, a decentralized autonomous organization formed in October 2021 and focused on “making Austin the crypto capital of the world,” has sold 153 memberships at a price of 1 ETH (about $1,900), according to co-founder Mason Lynaugh. The group’s website says the organization aims to “unite Austin’s crypto communities, enable artists and local businesses to participate in the crypto ecosystem and educate the government about the benefits of Web3.”
A lifelong Austin resident and University of Texas at Austin grad, Lynaugh says he recently quit his job at a database company to devote more time to ATX DAO – because the growth opportunity looks so promising.
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