A vibrant first official day at Bitcoin 2014 is nearing its end. Over 1000 people have come from all over the world to Amsterdam for the second conference organized by the Bitcoin foundation.
Patrick Byrne, CEO of Overstock, opened this morning with a keynote in which he traced many of the roots of liberalism to the Netherlands and painted Bitcoin as a continuation of this tradition. His talk also epitomized a shift that has occurred over the last year as more and more entrepreneurs and business people have entered the space and as the technologists have moved increasingly to the background.
Even though a similar number of people attended the first conference by the Bitcoin foundation last year in San Jose, the most striking sign of Bitcoin's growth has been to wander through the booths were all the startups and companies are displaying their products. Many of them didn't exist a year ago or have grown tremendously in maturity and size.
In four different tracks which covered technology, economy, regulation and businesses, many of the most respected thought leaders in Bitcoin gave talks. Indeed from Brian Armstrong to Gavin Andresen to Jon Matonis - to name just a few – a huge percentage of Bitcoin’s most prominent leaders is present.
After lunch, the other talk on the main stage was Gavin Andresen's “State of Bitcoin”, in which he discussed where we are in the development stage. He pointed to the many small and incremental improvements that need to be made for Bitcoin to scale and remain secure.
He questioned the security of Bitcoin 2.0 protocols, emphasized the importance of the development of multi-signature wallets and stressed how crucial it will be to increase the block size to keep Bitcoin cheap and inclusive. The talk ended with a cautious, but optimistic outlook for 2015.
Later, the Blockchain Awards honored many people and organizations that have done important work to bring Bitcoin forward during the past twelve months. Epicenter Bitcoin, our podcast, was nominated as well, although Let's Talk Bitcoin ended up a well-deserved winner.
It was a fantastic and vibrant first day at this gathering of a nascent industry. The enthusiasm and belief that we’re on the cusp of something big was as tangible as ever, but this time underscored by the incredible progress of Bitcoin startups.