Gary Leland is hosting the third installment of the BitBlockBoom conference in Dallas, Texas on August 29, 2020. But this year’s event is decidedly different: this is set to be the first well-attended, in-person Bitcoin event held in the United States since the Covid-19 outbreak began.
Because of the unique situation he’s in, Bitcoin Magazine wanted to check in with Gary and understand more about the preparations he’s making to ensure that BitBlockBoom is both a successful and safe event for everyone attending.
Flip: I think you’re the first well-known Bitcoin event being held in-person since the Covid-19 outbreak (correct me if I’m wrong there) and folks will be super interested in what you’re doing differently/how expectations have changed.
Gary Leland: Yes, I believe we are the first conference since Covid-19 for sure. I appreciate you taking the time to help share BitBlockBoom with your subscribers.
Flip: What are your major drivers for wanting to host an in-person event?
Leland: This will be the third year for the BitBlockBoom Bitcoin Conference, and it has been an in-person event since its inception. My goal is to build a conference I would personally enjoy attending.
I love networking at smaller conferences where everything is on a much more personal level. While there have been many larger conferences that I have enjoyed, I just prefer a smaller conference with less attendees over a conference with 2,000 or more attendees.
I am also only interested in Bitcoin, and not really interested in alts or anything else except Bitcoin, so in my eyes, nothing could be better than hanging out with a bunch of Bitcoiners and talking about Bitcoin. Not debating if Bitcoin is better than some other shitcoin, but talking about what Bitcoin is and what Bitcoin will do in the future.
I have found most people do not even know one Bitcoiner that lives in the same city they live in, so they are overwhelmed when they come to BitBlockBoom and meet hundreds of Bitcoiners.
BitBlockBoom is my attempt at building a conference that I would enjoy attending, and it seems there are plenty of others that enjoy this concept since we have grown every year, including 2020.
Flip: How have attendees and sponsors reacted to having an in-person event?
Leland: Most of our growth has come from word of mouth: attendees sharing the conference with their friends and telling them how great it was. If you want to talk about Bitcoin, and just Bitcoin, this is the conference for you. As Tone Vays tweeted, there are four must attend bitcoin events in the world and BitBlockBoom is one of the four.
As far as attendance itself, we will sell more tickets this year than either of the previous years, so I feel people are willing to come to an in-person event.
It has been a little harder to get sponsors for sure. I have some great sponsors like Unchained Capital, Escher and Cypher Safe.
It has always been hard to get sponsors. It seems most of the companies that offer to sponsor BitBlockBoom are crypto companies, not Bitcoin companies, and this is a Bitcoin ONLY event so I cannot accept them as a sponsor.
In. case anyone is interested, we do still have sponsorship opportunities available.
Flip: Were there any new hurdles for putting together this year’s event?
Leland: Yes, with Covid-19 there are definitely hurdles I had never had to prepare for in the past, but I feel I am handling those hurdles, with social distancing, sanitizing stations, providing masks, etc.
Flip: Have you had to work with local government for any approvals?
Leland: We have not had any issues where local government approval was needed, but we are following all the state guidelines and doing more than they require to be safe during these times.
Flip: Will you be requiring masks or implementing any “social distancing” policies?
Leland: We are providing custom BitBlockboom masks to all attendees, and of course, we are using social distancing. We have also implemented a system for marking attendees badges so other attendees will know how much social distancing the individual attendee desires. They may want partial or complete distancing and this system will allow everyone to identify themselves as to which type of distancing they prefer.
Flip: Will there be options to watch a stream of the event or participate virtually in other ways?
Leland: Yes, all sessions will be on a free live stream and we are now looking for sponsors of the live stream. If anyone is interested in sponsoring the live stream they should contact me. I have a few opportunities left.
Flip: What would you say to someone who argues hosting an in-person event is unsafe at this time?
Leland: I am not sure I would argue with anyone as to what is safe for them. What is safe for a 25-year-old is much different than what is safe for a 70-year-old. So people can make their own decisions on that.
The best thing I can do is take all the steps mandated by the state of Texas for social distancing, which I have done. Then do even more than the state requires.
Flip: How excited are you to get together with other Bitcoiners?
Leland: I love talking about Bitcoin, and BitBlockboom is one of the best opportunities for Bitcoiners like me to talk to other Bitcoiners. I have made so many great friends over the past two years at BitBlockBoom, and will make more new friends this year.
While there are other Bitcoin conferences around the world, if you want to actually make friends and relationships with other Bitcoiners, BitBlockBoom is the place. This will be the networking event of 2020 for Bitcoiners.
Flip: Anything else you’d like Bitcoin Magazine readers to know about the event?
Leland: Yes, I am 65, so I am in the age group that is most affected by Covid-19. Because of my age, I am taking all the precautions I can think of to make this event safe for myself and in doing so hopefully it will be safe for everyone.
If you’re looking to attend BitBlockBoom, use the code “bitcoinmagazine” for a 30 percent discount off the price of a ticket.
BitBlockBoom will take place August 29 and 30, 2020, at the Renaissance Dallas Addison Hotel. See its FAQ for any questions you might have.
Flip is an Editor and the Webmaster at Bitcoin Magazine. You'll find Flip hidden in the back of the office with the lights off.