Web3 CMO Stories

Why You Should Join Me at Consensus 2024 – with Sam Ewen, SVP at CoinDesk | S4 E05

April 30, 2024 Joeri Billast & Sam Ewen Season 4
Why You Should Join Me at Consensus 2024 – with Sam Ewen, SVP at CoinDesk | S4 E05
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Web3 CMO Stories
Why You Should Join Me at Consensus 2024 – with Sam Ewen, SVP at CoinDesk | S4 E05
Apr 30, 2024 Season 4
Joeri Billast & Sam Ewen

Sam Ewen is the senior vice president, head of media innovation and experience at CoinDesk, and the driving force behind Consensus, one of the largest and most well-known events in the Web3 space.

In our conversation, we explore the exciting lineup of speakers, themes, and experiences that await attendees at the upcoming Consensus event in Austin.

  • The diverse range of topics covered, from the future of money and emerging technologies to brand-building and real-world use cases
  • Insights from industry leaders and innovators, including BMW's head of Metaverse, Adidas' Web3 studio lead, and entrepreneurs like Ben Leventhal of Resy and Eater
  • Unique networking opportunities, including invite-only events, lounges, and interactive experiences like the Karate Combats event
  • Tips for attendees to make the most of the event, from preparing for networking to following up effectively post-event
  • The vibrant atmosphere of Austin, with its walkable streets, diverse culinary scene, and lively music culture

This episode was recorded through a Podcastle call on April 23, 2024. Read the blog article and show notes here: https://webdrie.net/why-you-should-join-me-at-consensus-2024-with-sam-ewan-svp-at-coindesk/

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Sam Ewen is the senior vice president, head of media innovation and experience at CoinDesk, and the driving force behind Consensus, one of the largest and most well-known events in the Web3 space.

In our conversation, we explore the exciting lineup of speakers, themes, and experiences that await attendees at the upcoming Consensus event in Austin.

  • The diverse range of topics covered, from the future of money and emerging technologies to brand-building and real-world use cases
  • Insights from industry leaders and innovators, including BMW's head of Metaverse, Adidas' Web3 studio lead, and entrepreneurs like Ben Leventhal of Resy and Eater
  • Unique networking opportunities, including invite-only events, lounges, and interactive experiences like the Karate Combats event
  • Tips for attendees to make the most of the event, from preparing for networking to following up effectively post-event
  • The vibrant atmosphere of Austin, with its walkable streets, diverse culinary scene, and lively music culture

This episode was recorded through a Podcastle call on April 23, 2024. Read the blog article and show notes here: https://webdrie.net/why-you-should-join-me-at-consensus-2024-with-sam-ewan-svp-at-coindesk/

Sam:

What I try and do is find who are the most interesting marketers in the world and who are the most interesting entrepreneurs in the world, who are building brands and they're building brands that are not looking at the next six months, they're looking at the next 10 years and how are they utilizing this technology?

Joeri:

Hello everyone and welcome to the Web3 CMO Stories podcast. My name is Joeri Billast and I'm your podcast host, and today I'm really stoked to be joined by Sam Ewan. But if you are now wondering who is Sam, he's a Senior Vice President, Head of Media Innovation and Experience at Coindesk, and I have invited Sam because there is an amazing event I think maybe one of the largest or, well, most well-known events on the world in Web3, which is Consensus. So, Sam, to start for our listeners, who maybe maybe there are some that don't know Consensus yet can you give us an overview of what Consensus is about?

Sam:

Yes, Joeri, thank you so much for having me. So Consensus is the largest in North America, depending on the year, largest in the world event that covers Blockchain, Crypto, Web3, and all the related categories of the crypto space, and one of our differentiators is we are very much a big tent show. Our goal is not to focus just on DeFi or just to focus on Ethereum or Solana or Bitcoin. We want to be the everything show so you can come and really learn and meet the people who are building the ecosystem, from developers to investors, to brands, to attendees, and really it's a kind of wonderful few days where we all get to be together. It's also, I would say, a lot of business gets done. It's a place that a lot of companies have been invested out of.

Sam:

It's a lot of where major announcements have happened in the crypto space, and it allows us, I think, to have a moment in time where we get to gather our IRL and have true conversations with each other about the trajectory of crypto. We've had in the full bull market we had close to 20,000 people. We are usually average around 15,000. With the way crypto is going this year, we're tracking on the higher end again. So I think it's just going to be a really vibrant week, and we also just announced recently that we're doing our first companion consensus in Asia, so we're actually expanding the consensus brand, and so in February we're going to be in Hong Kong, and that's part of, I think, the strategy is, how do we have these amazing conversations and opportunities for networking globally?

Joeri:

Yeah, I read that about your product expansion. That's amazing. This also shows that Web3 is coming back. I was at Paris Blockchain Week. There, again, I felt like the vibe. I was on networking events with investors, with founders. Everyone is really positive again. And I'm also curious, of course, what are now the key themes and discussions that will be highlighted at Consensus?

Sam:

Honestly, there's going to be a whole wealth of themes. It's been it's been an amazing year, right. So I think that we can't go through a year like we just had and not think about the fact that this was the year where we had the Bitcoin ETF, the fact that we were finally embraced by Wall Street in a more traditional way, and we're seeing those ETF type products starting to propagate and be talked about in Asia, in Europe, in other parts of the world. So I think that's been a really big moment. We just had the Bitcoin halving. That's always a big moment in our industry, and so for us to come out a month later and really be able to talk about the impact of all of this larger industry in what it means to be the future of money, the future of culture, the future of the technology those will be themes that we'll explore Additionally.

Sam:

We do a lot around startups and we do a lot around developers, so we want people who are building this industry to meet each other and also meet their future investors. So there's a bunch of content focused on that, and then we're going to be looking, I think, in a lot of the areas of emerging technology, and I think that's always a very exciting one for us. So that's everything from how brands are utilizing the blockchain to connect with customers. We're looking at gaming and immersive worlds and everything from, again, the largest in the space to some of the startups who are trying to figure out that.

Sam:

We're looking at AI, and the validation and verification of truth is a big theme this year, because there'sk bngx not only a lot of people who are building and believe that blockchain is a perfect sister technology to AI in terms of being able to prove provenance and sourcing of information, but also what does it mean to even be human in an AI world is some of the thematics that we'll discuss. Finally, I will say I'm very interested in how we're taking all of those toolkits and starting to bring them into real-world use cases. So that's everything from the tokenization of real-world assets, but also thinking about categories like deep end, where people are utilizing hardware and software out in the real world, so we can decentralize mapping, so we can decentralize AI compute, so we can decentralize weather data and let the people who contribute be a part of the opportunity in these sort of large scale data projects, which is a personal area. Personally, I'm just very interested in that area as well.

Joeri:

Yeah, what I like about these conferences, too, is obviously networking, learning, but to find those stories to tell, like you say, about real world assets, other things like how is AI involved, because that's our topic, of course. I'm also in the gem community. Maybe you are, or other people from Coindesk are there too. A lot of marketers are there. This is, of course, also a big audience part marketers. What do you expect for a Web3 marketer?

Sam:

Yes, yeah, I was very early in the Jump community so I'm glad to hear that you're in it as well and Jeff's a good friend. For those who are interested on the Web3 marketing side, I always think that Consensus is a must attend, and I say that because I've been almost my whole career in marketing and I've been to most of the events, the ad ages and ad weeks and cans and everything, and I think those are often great conferences. But what often happens, in my opinion, is we always default to the lowest common denominator of information, so the kind of what's the 101, the basic, and I think we're beyond the point where we need to talk about what is an NFT and how should a brand use one. We're beyond what loyalty is, and so a consensus, and this is an area I program myself. What I try and do is find who are the most interesting marketers in the world and who are the most interesting entrepreneurs in the world who are building brands, and they're building brands that are not looking at the next six months, they're looking at the next 10 years. And how are they utilizing this technology? For example, we do an entire day which is called the Brand and Creator Summit, where we have amazing creators, we have amazing brand builders, we have people from brands coming on and they are going to come on and talk about the experiments and the projects that they're doing in our space. So, for example, you can hear from Pia, who's the head of Metaverse for BMW right, BMW has done a tremendous amount of work, both partnering with NFT communities and doing some of their own work in that space, but they've also built entire worlds in Fortnite. They're also in Minecraft and Roblox, so I want to know from them what's their thinking around how this emerging technology layer connects them to the future drivers of the world, and what does that mean when, then, those drivers become autonomous and AI? I think there's just like a really heady conversation there, so we might have someone like that.

Sam:

We also have Erica, who leads the Web3 studio at Adidas, and Adidas has been a very comfortable partner in playing in this space and they have tried a lot of experiments and a lot of. They just launched another one this week, I think, with a partnership with Stepin, and, as a business leader in charge of a large business line working at one of the most known companies in the world, I want to know what gets her excited about Web3 and the work that we're doing right? So just those two alone. But then we start to add on that we have companies in the entertainment space. We have companies who are looking at it through a legal perspective. We have both Time Magazine and Fox Corporation coming and talking about the idea of validating truth and what does it mean for information to not be putting your media on chain.

Sam:

At this session, we also have someone like Ben Leventhal, who built Resi and Eater, two of the most popular food apps that people use today, and now his new project, blackbird, is all written on chain.

Sam:

And we have him in a session with Luca Nets who's building Pudgy Penguins and that universe. So we have a very storied entrepreneur who has been very successful and raised millions and millions of dollars, and then we have Luca Nets who's trying to build a Web3 native brand that's built in toys and how do you get and putting them on stage together so that they can learn from each other and pay off of each other. So I think that's one of the things that we do really well, which is find the people who are doing the work and interested in how to bring this forth and then being able to learn from them, talk to them. We have Walmart coming this year and Walmart's going to be on one of our stages around metaverse. I am fascinated to think of how one of the largest retailers in the world wants to think about digital space when they know that it's a threat to their physical space as a brand and so. But the fact is, again, they embrace it very well and they support it and they're trying so many different projects here.

Joeri:

I love the fact that it's so diverse, so they for everyone that comes, you can learn something, and actually that is what I'm trying to do with my podcast to talk about Metaverse, talk about AI, talk about blockchain, talk about the financial aspect, but it can also be like a more pharma aspect or then an aspect from education and how it all comes together, and that's what I love. It will create some FOMO, of course, because so many things going on and of course, it's an event in real life. This gives a lot of energy. Is there anything specific this year to that will make the event even more special? Some experience that you are providing. That is new.

Sam:

Yeah, we treat it not as a complete decentralized conference we are in a convention center, after all but we always do have another space which is focused on community and art, because we want that to reflect more of an art gallery approach. We always support a lot of side events that are going on, so we'll do that. I believe we have nine different stages this year of different types of content. So, again, whether you're interested in emerging tech or the future of money, you can find either one of them. If you're a developer or you're a startup, you can find your people there. We also, I think, are doing some interesting evening events. We always try to make sure that there's stuff for people to do, so that could be anything from parties and happy hours. This year, we partnered with the team at Karate Combat, who are throwing basically an event where they're pitting everything from influencers to crypto maxis together and having them have sort of playful fights and for bragging rights potentially. So we have, for example, nick Carter, who's a very Bitcoin maxi. He's fighting David Hoffman, who's an Ethereum maxi, and they're going to both have a three round bout to see who which chain is the strongest, which I think will be really fun.

Sam:

We hold something called the 3MO dinner. Our 3MO dinner is for the senior most marketing people and the senior most builders and creators, and that's it's invite. Only it's private, but we, our goal is the. This people who come in this room are the ones who are building this industry for the public to see. When people talk about how do we get the next 10 million, the next hundred million people to come into crypto, these are the people who are going to do that, and so we have something where it's very. It's no cameras, it's all very much. We just want this to be a very high end networking opportunity, and there's things like that happen all over. So, from the very big, where you can go in and be part of a big special events that your ticket gets you into, or to the very small, where these are invite-only events for different kinds of builders or categories, there's really something for everybody, and Austin is also a great town for this because everything is walking distance, the food is great, the people are amazing, so it's really a great time.

Joeri:

Yeah, so not to miss. So for the networkers like me, what would you advise them to prepare for the conference, because there are all these side events? Is there a certain place we can?

Sam:

Yeah, we always have our site and our agenda that lists a lot of it. We are putting together our own list of all the side events because we do support anyone who wants to come and throw their own events alongside ours. I think those are all good things. I also think that our app allows you to send messages to other people so you might say, oh, let me search and find people who have listed themselves in Web3, and then you may find 20 of those people who are in marketing and the ability to say I'm here, I would love to record something with you, I'd love to just meet and get you on a future show. That stuff happens all the time. Thousands and thousands of messages go across our app for people to network. We also are doing specific lounges for people to network so we have on the show floor. If you are again a startup or an investor, we have places for you to connect.

Sam:

In our Gen C area, which is more of the market for Ford runs, we're actually building kind of a more of a demo area where people can come and try games and hardware and AI products and a lot of interesting sort of tactile things. But I'm expecting that to be a big meeting area because it's just fun, like we just wanted to highlight new technologies and we just we curated. We reached out to some people. We said you're doing some cool stuff, why don't you come and show it to our audience? And a lot of people said yes. So I think that's something.

Sam:

I do think that it's important to be comfortable going up and talking to anybody. I think that these events are things where people want to network and they want to know that they're meeting interesting people. So having your pitch down and having it be ready to talk about is going to be key. But I would certainly think that this is an area that you should be looking through the agenda, looking through the speakers and looking through the attendees and saying how do I get them to pay attention to me?

Joeri:

And that's the success of an event. When I go to a conference like that is to be prepared, because if you're not prepared, it can be overwhelming. So many things going on, so know a bit who is there, who I can meet, what are the events going on, which sessions I want to go to. I always try using an app to make connections beforehand and meetings, because I'm traveling from Belgium and then it's always good to meet people in real life. That's one of the powers of the event. Of course, you mentioned AI is also a topic. Did you use AI also for the organization?

Sam:

We actually did a fair amount of research looking into it and one of the things that we found is, even though we love the uses of AI and we want to be in the AI business, we found that it wasn't yet ready to a point where we could say, oh, let's ingest our entire agenda and then have it in real time, tell people what's going on or whatever it may be. We felt like we're probably a year away from how we would like to use AI in that space. So we did a fair amount of exploration. There's a lot of stuff that I think is really interesting in the conference business regarding AI. I think where you will see it in is how we can get video out quicker, how we can get summations out quicker, that stuff. But yeah, we were a little bit more cautious, I think, on using it because it is such a big event and we do.

Sam:

We stream the whole event and I'll call it that. We stream our TV studio live for all three days, right? So anyone, if you can't come to consensus, you should definitely be there. The networking is key, but if you can't, you can watch our live coverage at seven hours a day of interesting stuff happening. We throw it at different stages.

Sam:

We talk with the most interesting people and and I just think there's that there's still nothing yet in the AI world that will replicate that experience for our users. So I think that the idea is, if you're going to come meet people, be very comfortable introducing yourself, really use the agenda. The agenda is going to tell you all the speakers you want to meet, and a lot of speakers are very happy to meet the people who just sat through a session with them. I wouldn't feel shy about that either. But then for those who are not, we have a digital pass you can buy to see every one of the events, or you can go to our YouTube or our Twitter and you can actually watch the live coverage, which is we treat it this is the Olympics of crypto.

Joeri:

So people who come at the event is there in their pass, do they have access?

Sam:

Yes, anyone who has a ticket can watch every session. So I think that's actually one of the problems You'll see, when you have an agenda that has nine different stages, you can't make it to all. And, being strategic about which one am I going to go to live versus which one am I going to note in my in my agenda that I want to watch later because they're available, I think, within an hour or so. So we we have seen a lot of people who do that, and anyone who has a digital pass or an IRL pass gets access to that, I think, for 30 days before it goes to the public. So, yeah, it is something where we want you to feel special, that you still came and you have some access that others don't.

Joeri:

Yeah, that's a good alternative because people are busy. There are many things going on. Yes, you gave different tips and I like that, but that is also what I think about is after the event, because do we have some tips for people now to prepare after those three days? Because, as you said, there are many presentations going on. What happens is, with me, I plan a presentation or talk maybe to go to, but I meet someone and I continue to talk and so I don't go there, and then, of course, there is a follow-up to do after the event. So any tips for people to think of ahead how they should? Yeah, I think a couple things.

Sam:

One, I do think don't lose sight of the fact that you can watch all the sessions after, and so for me, I know that I program a lot of sessions at this event and there's so many more I would love to see that I can't go to. There's some that I program and I can't go to because I might be on stage at another thing. So, yeah, I really do try to make sure to highlight what are the things that are going to be most important to me. I really try to meet as many people as possible. One tip that I try to do our industry runs on things like Signal and WhatsApp and Telegram, and so I literally change my screen on my phone to my Telegram QR code so people can connect with me and I say to them whether we take a photo or just tell me how we met, because I will meet 200 people that those three days and I won't remember you unless I have a photo or you can tell me the conversation we had.

Sam:

So, being very proactive also in when you connect with people, you got to figure if you're a speaker and you're your personality in our community, you're going to be asked to connect a lot.

Sam:

So how one stands out is just a great tactic of thinking about that. If you take a photo of us and then you send it to me this is me, we talked about this Then it just makes it a lot easier, because then I don't have to do the work as a speaker. So I do think the follow-ups are key. I also don't think you need to follow up the next day, right? A lot of people are there and their days are packed and their nights are even busier and they're not getting a lot of sleep and it's not. So waiting till the next week is not the worst thing. Hey, we met last week. I wanted to give you some time to rest, but I would love to follow up on the thing we talked about, and I think that people actually respect that versus three messages by the time they've gotten back home from the airport, and that feels already sometimes too much exactly, and that's.

Joeri:

I went to a lot of conferences. That's exactly how I do this. I feel that because I have also gone to, let's say, Web2, marketing conferences, or I go to Web3 conference, for instance, in berlin, it's different. So, like in Dubai, everyone takes a telegram. In Berlin there was a lot of LinkedIn.

Joeri:

Then I was in Paris and it was a mix, but taking the picture directly, because then you remember afterwards I met these people, make some keywords, put some keywords there and follow up, and not right away, but because you did that. It makes it personal, and that's what I like about Telegram, because you make the picture on LinkedIn. Yeah, a lot of information. That's also good because people connect with me. They know, okay, there's this guy, yuri, he has a podcast. We have all these people we know in common and so on. So, if I have time but it's not always, it's often busy and I connect on linkedin, but yet the following up is is really important. So, yes, a lot of, I would say, learning days coming up, days where we will meet a lot of people, a lot of excitement. What are you personally now the most for?

Sam:

me, it's always the month before, which is what we're in now is. It's always very busy. We're last minute trying to polish off a bunch of sessions and speakers and make sure we have all the right narratives down, and we're doing kind of prep for each of our sessions and I run a whole day. I'm the host host of the brand and creator summit that we do so I do a lot of prep and have to think through that. So I look forward to the end of the first day when most of my work is done. I'll probably moderate or jump on a couple of sessions after that, but then I get to experience it like an attendee, which is actually how I like it most. So, yeah, so I think I'm looking forward to one just having an amazing day on Wednesday for the track I'm producing and then being able to experience and see some of the people who I think are just the smartest minds in the space coming to talk and hearing their words and getting inspired to continue to do the work we do.

Sam:

And then out of every event like that, you get 10 or other ideas of what you would have done differently or what you would like to do. So I really take a notebook with me, and I always am very keen on watching how people are utilizing our stages, our areas, how people walk around the show floor, where does their eye get drawn to? A lot of a kind of high-end experience. Design is about making you feel comfortable in spaces that you don't know you're comfortable in, and it's hard, in a convention center. We're moving. Next year We'll be in Toronto for our North American event, and so it'll be our first time in a new convention center, which allows us now to reimagine this whole thing, which is going to be very exciting. But I want to make sure we take the best of what we've done in Austin for the last three years and bring that to Toronto. So that's also one of the things I'll be looking at, which is how much of this is flexible versus how much of this do we have to reimagine the whole thing.

Joeri:

Wow. And so now for people coming the first time to Austin. Of course they come for the conference, but is there something that you can advise them?

Sam:

Yes, I would say there's a couple of things is what I always say, which is especially around Austin. It is a very walkable city, so the more you can stay, even within 10 or 15 minutes of the convention center, the better, because it just gives you a lot of flexibility versus having to grab an Uber to go to a hotel that's two miles away. One is try to stay as close as you can, but know that even if you're 15, 20 minutes away, that's totally fine. It's a very easy city to walk in. Hydration is key. It's a very long days like comfortable shoes, hydration, having snacks with you, like. I do all of that and I make sure that even if I don't get time to eat, I will have something on me so I won't lose my energy. I also would say Austin is a great food city, and so everything from the breakfast tacos and the taco trucks late at night to all of the barbecue that happens there, but there's also a ton of innovative chefs in Austin, so I would really seek out what are some of the more interesting restaurants and neighborhoods, because you'll go and you'll find. Some of the best Japanese food I've ever had is in Austin, and yet they're not near an ocean, and so there's a lot of great fusion restaurants there.

Sam:

I think that it is an amazing music scene. So if you're into music not only the events that are associated with us that have music, but yeah, it's just really easy to just walk into a local bar and you're hearing something, everything from country music to electronica. Yeah, so it's really a great city. And then my final thing I will say is we're at the very end of May. It's going to be hot, so one must be prepared for maybe you want to bring a change of a shirt or something, because you might sweat your way through one of them on the way somewhere else. So I recommend a change of clothes is not the worst thing to have on you.

Joeri:

Okay, that's a great tip. Yeah, I'm already so excited, Sam, to be there and to take the plane. It's a long flight, but it will be really fun, really an amazing experience. It will be really fun, really an amazing experience. And so when I find out people listening and they are so excited to meet Sam, where can they go to buy?

Sam:

Of course, consensus. coindesk. com is the place to go. If you are a member of Jump or any of these other communities, make sure to hit us up. We can probably get you a discount. We're happy to give you that. We would love to see as many people as possible come. But, yeah, consensus. coindesk. com is the place to find out your tickets, and we support student passes, we support developer passes.

Sam:

Again, let's figure out the way to get you there, depending on where you are in your life. And then, secondly, I would say, just following along to us on our Consensus Twitter handle or our coindeskcom Twitter, we'll give a lot of information. We have a telegram for people who come on the ground, so we can say, hey, this is happening right now. If you want to jump in, that's all linked through our consensus page. Yeah, there's a ton of ways to connect and we just want to make sure you guys who attend are getting the best experience. So our team is very good at helping to solve problems. Or someone is trying to find out an opportunity and can't find it. We're there to help.

Joeri:

And so, guys, if you're now listening to this podcast for my listeners, there is a special link in the show notes and you will have a discount. Check it out. I will be there to add consensus. I would love to meet you. I always like to meet my listeners on these conferences, so be sure to come and say hi In the meantime, sam, it was great to have you on the show. Guys, you see what an amazing event this will be, so if you want to know more, check out the link in the show notes. If you also think that this event and this podcast episode is interesting for others around you, be sure to share this episode with them. If you're not yet following the show, this is a really good moment to do this and, of course, I would like to see you next time, and also in Austin. Take care Bye.

Could you please provide a brief overview of Consensus for our listeners who might not be familiar with it yet?
What are the key themes and discussions that will be highlighted at Consensus?
What are the expectations and key considerations for Web3 marketers attending Consensus or engaging in the gem community?
Are there any specific new experiences or features at this year's event that will make it particularly special?
What's your advice for networkers preparing for the conference with all the side events?
Did you utilize AI for organizing the event as well?
Do attendees have access to the side events as part of their pass?
Any tips to think of ahead for attendees who might get sidetracked from planned presentations due to networking opportunities, and how to manage follow-up tasks afterwards?
What are you personally most excited about during these upcoming days filled with learning and networking opportunities?
For first-time visitors to Austin attending the conference, what advice would you offer them to make the most of their experience beyond the event itself?