Jesse Grushack started mining bitcoin in 2010, using all of his computer power over the course of three days to come up with 1/200th of a penny. Despite the discouraging start, Grushack’s interest in cryptocurrency didn’t wane; when he learned about a company called ConsenSys in 2015 via the New York City Tech Slack channel, he got in touch and got a job. “It was just a black website with the one-line description, ‘A decentralized venture studio building applications primarily on Ethereum,’” he recalls, “and I was like, wow, that means nothing.”
This post is part of Generation Crypto, by Jess Klein.
Now knowing how ConsenSys operates, Grushack finds that description to be pretty concise. The Ethereum app incubator, though “decentralized,” has a big warehouse style office in Brooklyn, New York. Grushack lives in the borough, but he hasn’t been going to the office since early March because of the coronavirus, and is now staying with his parents at their home on Long Island, where he grew up. A lot of the company works remotely anyway, so work has been moving along as usual – besides Grushack having to newly plan a totally virtual Ethereal Summit in May, an event he produces with some colleagues. “The event is now free,” he says. “We’re going to reach a lot more people. It’s become more open and accessible.”
What has been derailed for Grushack is Burning Man. As of April 13, the yearly desert festival, set for August, announced it would go virtual due to COVID-19.
No roundup of “generation crypto” would be complete without a Burner (or two…), and for someone whose first job out of college was at a music festival production company until 2014, it’s no surprise Grushack has become one of the main organizers of Node Republik, a Burning Man camp populated by ConsenSys workers, Ethereum enthusiasts and their friends. Though the event only lasts about 10 days annually, planning is a year-long endeavor. Keeping nearly 100 people fed, safe and entertained at the cooperative camp isn’t easy.
For Grushack, the co-creator of Ujo Music, prepping for Burning Man and building on blockchain go hand in hand. At the Nevada desert festival “you learn how communities are built and people interact,” he says. Node Republik got its name “because we’re all nodes in a system, and we need to play our part,” blockchain-style. But in the blockchain space, Grushack has found many projects to be overly idealistic. If the builders don’t understand “how people function and interact in real life,” their projects are “never going to get anywhere,” he says. Burning Man has let him see collaborative, cooperative projects play out in real life, which helps him better approach virtual ones.
CoinDesk didn’t learn Grushack’s reaction to a virtualized version of Burning Man, as he did not respond to more recent requests for comment. With the now-virtual Ethereal Summit he’s been organizing – an event he wants to feel “magical” – going live days from our most recent outreach, on May 7, he likely had his hands full.
This post is part of Generation Crypto by Jessica Klein.
ALSO FROM CONSENSUS MAGAZINE 2020:
The CoinDesk 50, by CoinDesk staff
Crypto in Corona: From Switzerland to Liberland, by Jeff Wilser
The Men Who Stare at Charts, by Ben Munster
Michelle Phan: The Beauty of Bitcoin, by Leigh Cuen
The Changemaker: Glen Weyl Puts His Radical Ideas Into Action, by Jeff Wilser
The Man Who Saw a Currency Cold War, by Jeff Wilser