The second annual Texas Bitcoin Conference opened its doors in Austin on March 27 and will run through March 29, 2015. Cointelegraph had the chance to speak with Paul Snow, the organizer and founder of the event and President of the Texas Bitcoin Association.
Snow recently held a reddit AMA session answering questions regarding his pledge to ride 20 miles from his home to the event venue on a unicycle. We spoke to Snow about his ride to support charities, this year’s Texas Bitcoin Conference, and what we will can expect from his Factom project in 2015.
“The feedback was impressively positive. Perhaps the most insightful and unexpected was, ‘As a fellow unicyclist, damn, son. That's gonna chafe.’”
- Paul Snow, Texas Bitcoin Conference Founder
Cointelegraph: First, could you tell us about the Texas Bitcoin Conference and how did it evolve from the Mini Bitcoin Conference in Austin Series to become the global event that it is today?
Paul Snow: I started a Bitcoin Meetup in about May of 2013, then joined it with another. I Organized those meetups for a few months, then decided we needed to do something bigger.
So we got a venue, and started a monthly Saturday event we called the "Mini Bitcoin Conference Series in Austin.” We did three of these, in August, September, and October of 2013. I did all the speakers, recording, MCing, etc. and it was all very informal. But after the third one, I asked for volunteers to take it all up a notch. Better program, better venue, better publicity, etc.
The result was the First Texas Bitcoin Conference, held at the Circuit of Americas. We had people from 15 different countries, over 90 speakers, and a Million Dollar Hackathon.
The momentum of that first conference has established the Texas Bitcoin Conference as an annual event here in Austin Texas. This year, we will host the Second Texas Bitcoin Conference in Downtown Austin at the Austin City Limits Moody Theater.
CT: What can we expect at the Conference compared to 2014 and how is it different from your run-of-the-mill Bitcoin events?
PS: The Texas Bitcoin Conference always has a huge number of messages running in parallel. We have the second Million Dollar Hackathon to promote the growth of new Blockchain based projects. We have something new this year with the publication of the first Proceedings of the Texas Bitcoin Conference. These proceedings provide a platform to put significant and detailed information in front of the community.
We also have four featured Bitcoin accepting charities. We talk about Bitcoin as a Force for Good, and provide time to discuss how Bitcoin and blockchain technologies are making the world a better place. With the Ride Across Austin, we are both having fun, and demonstrating how a fund raising event can be supported by Bitcoin and result in a cryptographic proof of donation.
“I rode right up to the Venue on Thursday before the event. […] if being a little bit silly allows me to promote the Charity Partners (BitGive, Capital Area Food Bank of Texas, Sean's Outpost, and Without Regrets) of the Texas Bitcoin Conference, then I am willing to do it.”
CT: You rode a unicycle 20 miles across Austin to the Texas Bitcoin Conference to promote the event and several charity organizations. How was that experience and will you be riding to the actual event?
PS: I ended up riding 21 miles (I guess for the 21 million Bitcoins). It was a ton of fun, and we are pushing all the video and pictures of the event even as I write this.
I rode right up to the Venue on Thursday before the event. I will not be riding to the event the day of, since I'll be taking on a more formal role at that time. Still, if being a little bit silly allows me to promote the Charity Partners (BitGive, Capital Area Food Bank of Texas, Sean's Outpost, and Without Regrets) of the Texas Bitcoin Conference, then I am willing to do it.
I did 17 miles on three rides of 5 miles each on Wednesday, then 4+ miles on Thursday, but that last ride had some significant hills, not something easy to do on a Unicycle.
CT: You recently held a reddit AMA about the Unicycle ride. What was the feedback like and what were some of your favorite questions or comments?
PS: The feedback was impressively positive. Perhaps the most insightful and unexpected was, "As a fellow unicyclist, damn, son. That's gonna chafe." But there is a reason bicyclists wear spandex. With the proper wear and tech, chafing isn't so much an issue.
Joeydekoning asked "How unicycle-friendly are the roads in Austin? Are hills a special challenge for unicyclists?" I pointed out that hills didn't cause me much of a problem as a college student (at 165 lbs). Now I can definitively say hills cause me problems at 55 and 235 lbs.
“I believe that Texas will attract many Bitcoin businesses away from California and NY.”
CT: Texas is considered to be a Bitcoin-friendly state. How would you compare the ease of doing business for Bitcoin companies to New York or California, for example?
PS: I believe that Texas will attract many Bitcoin businesses away from California and NY. Of course, London and England's more open, and their clear regulation and commitment to "own" cryptocurrency technology may actually be the biggest competition that Texas faces.
CT: Finally, any hint of what we can expect from Factom in 2015?
PS: Factom will be the first major blockchain technology that integrates with businesses in real world solutions. You will see Factom working with multiple countries to solve real problems with titles, governance, and security. The developing world suffers from "security by exclusion,” which is the only security the current banking and financial sector understands. You have to qualify.
“Factom provides a solution, where existing business processes can not only be auditable, but can be cryptographically secure.”
But qualification means auditable business processes, and historically the developing world has trouble doing that. Factom provides a solution, where existing business processes can not only be auditable, but can be cryptographically secure.
In the future, we will find that the biggest application of blockchain technology will be to secure data, not money. And Factom is the first blockchain technology solution aimed directly at securing data.