Attendance at World's Largest Bitcoin Conference Down by Half as 'Crypto Winter' Drags On

Roughly 15,000 attendees are expected at the Bitcoin 2023 event, versus 35,000 last year – likely a result of the downturn known as “crypto winter.” Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the U.S. presidential candidate, is among scheduled speakers.

AccessTimeIconMay 18, 2023 at 1:57 p.m. UTC
Updated May 18, 2023 at 8:37 p.m. UTC
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MIAMI – Bitcoin faithful are making the annual pilgrimage to Miami Beach by the thousands for the third year in a row, for an industry conference set to feature speakers including the U.S. presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy and the author Michael Lewis.

Organizers of the conference, Bitcoin 2023, call it the “world’s largest Bitcoin gathering,” starting Thursday and ending with an exclusive afterparty on Saturday night. A general admission ticket costs $999 and an “Industry Pass” with exclusive access to the “Official Networking App” goes for $2,299.

More than 35,000 people attended last year, according to the conference website. Speakers included tennis legend Serena Williams, controversial psychologist Jordan Peterson and MicroStrategy (MSTR) co-founder Michael Saylor.

This year, the website says approximately 15,000 devotees of the dominant cryptocurrency – fewer than half as many as last year, likely a symptom of crypto winter – will descend on the Miami Beach Convention Center to listen to the U.S. presidential candidates Kennedy and Vivek Ramaswamy, along with Lewis and U.S. Representative Patrick McHenry, the North Carolina Republican who heads the House Financial Services Committee.

Crypto conferences occupy an outsize role in the digital-asset industry, since many employees work remotely; the gatherings typically provide a crucial source of networking and in-real-life personal interaction. But the plunge in prices for bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies over the past year has prompted many firms to slash travel and marketing budgets, so attendance at crypto conferences has declined.

CoinDesk's own Consensus 2023 event last month also suffered a drop-off in attendance, to about 15,000 from 20,000 in 2022.

This week's Bitcoin conference in Miami, organized by BTC Inc. and BTC Media, LLC (owner of Bitcoin Magazine), will feature over 180 talks, with session names including “Boom to Bust: Wall Street & the FTX Aftermath,” “The Great Ordinal Debate” and “Bitcoin-Powered Nuclear Energy.”

“Bitcoin winter is heating up in Miami,” reads one banner on the conference website.

The price of bitcoin (BTC) has risen to about $28,000 from around $15,000 in November, but it’s still well off the all-time high around $69,000 reached in late 2021.

The market malaise has triggered a slew of corporate bankruptcies and failures in the crypto industry along with widespread layoffs, leading analysts and executives to describe the current phase of the business cycle as “crypto winter.”

Edited by Bradley Keoun.


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Frederick  Munawa

Frederick Munawa was a Technology Reporter for Coindesk. He covered blockchain protocols with a specific focus on bitcoin and bitcoin-adjacent networks.

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