Adventures in Blockchain Week NY 2018 – The Fluidity Summit

Brooklyn Bridge

The day began in Brooklyn, NY. Brooklyn is a really interesting borough in New York in that it has elements of both a city and the quieter suburbs.

Brooklyn is the most populous of 5 boroughs (administrative sub-divisions) with over 2.6 million residents. Also called Kings County, Brooklyn is also the second-most densely populated county in the United States.

Despite this volume of residents, the city has a pleasantly quiet yet active, dynamic and hip vibe with sprawling coffee shops, eateries and breweries. There is also a distinct artistic expression splayed across many surfaces in the city.

What’s even more intriguing is how there isn’t a single entity that controls or commissions the art, it’s essentially a decentralized art movement.

The Bushwick Collective, a decentralized art movement in Brooklyn, NY | Source

Now on to Fluidity.

Fluidity took place at the iconic Weylin, previously the Williamsburg Savings Bank, originally built between 1870 and 1875 intended as a haven for the working class.

Considered the “bank of the people”, the Weylin was architected by the renowned George B. Post (designer of the NYSE and Cornelius Vandebilt II Mansion) with the interior designed by Peter B. Wight.

Picture of the Weylin in the 1800s

It’s interesting to consider not only the history of this landmark but it’s original purpose which was to provide services to people like women and servants who in that era lacked the legal rights and protections we benefit from today.

Recently, a group of Brooklyn entrepreneurs purchased the 135-year-old Weylin and began a 3-year restoration process. They ultimately turned the historic space into a five-star multifunctional event space, cultural and community hub.

And that’s where we went for Fluidity.

Fluidity was created to envision the future of finance bringing together traditional finance professionals, developers and crypto enthusiasts alike.

Waiting to enter Fluidity
Waiting to get into Fluidity


Picture of Fluidity
Made it!
Historic Bathroom
Historic Bathroom? Alllllright.

As stated by the Fluidity organizers:

“We’ve witnessed an explosion of tokenized assets and the hysteria surrounding a new global financial phenomenon. For the first time in human history, we’re able to exchange value directly between peers online, leaving middlemen behind as they become more expensive and fragile every day.

But it is not technology alone that can save us from the broken machinery of finance. We must understand our responsibilities and forge a path of legitimate, systemic change. Our community shares a belief in decentralization with a variety of designs, ideas, points, and counterpoints. Only through open, spirited discussion and debate will we emerge with a path forward and shared vision of things to come.”

Fluidity was a one-day event that covered the following categories:

  • Finance is Broken – Providing context to root causes of modern problems today
  • A History of Trade – From the origins of currency to the emergence of algorithms.
  • The Currency Revolution – Where anyone can create a cryptocurrency economy
  • The Tools of Trade – How the future of trading will grow and scale
  • Building a Global Marketplace – Bringing this Blockchain ecosystem worldwide
  • The Legal Landscape – The current and future outlook on regulatory and legal systems
  • Giving Ownership Back – Bringing the power back to the people
  • Moving Beyond Borders – Stateless and borderless money is upon us

Panorama of Fluidity Hall

The event had great influence from Consensys featuring its leader Joseph Lubin as well as a Consensys-based project, Air Swap who was the star of the show.

Other speakers included: Billionaire Mike Novograts, Bill Tai (VC), Jehan Chu (Kenetic), Erika Karp (Cornerstone Capital), Tom Trowbridge (Hashgraph), Michael Oved (Airswap) and Amir Bandeali (0x)

AirSwap is a search powered, decentralized, peer-to-peer token trading platform for ERC-20 tokens on the Ethereum blockchain. It is meant to be a secure and scalable token trading infrastructure which also provides exchange liquidity and zero fees.

AirSwap was built for a decentralized future, embracing the nature of blockchain as a distributed system. Users remain in control of their assets and trades are settled directly between peers, without a third party or any intermediary. What AirSwap lacks in execution speed, it will make up for in zero transaction fees for market makers and takers. 

The Who’s Who of Fluidity and what they said

Mike Novogratz is an ex-hedge fund manager of the Fortress Investment Group as well as a partner at Goldman Sachs where he focused on leadership roles in Asia and Latin America.

Novogratz now is at the helm of Galaxy Digital, “a NYC-based multi-strategy investment firm focused on digital assets and blockchain technology”. Novogratz hopes to make this company the “Goldman Sachs of Cryptocurrency”.

He is making strides toward this vision with the release of the Bloomberg Galaxy Crypto Index (BGCI), a benchmark index and brainchild of Galaxy and Bloomberg to track the top ten USD-traded cryptocurrencies weighted by marketcap.

Novogratz hopes this type of transparent metric will build the trust and spawn investment from institutional money into Crypto.

Novogratz ended with three investing pillars for cryptocurrency: (1) computer science, (2) crypto economics, and (3) institutional adoption.

  1. Computer science and engineering is the core of it all and implored investors to take a leap of faith that issues such as scaling would get solved eventually.
  2. Cryptoeconomics are complicated and require investors to shoulder the responsibility to identify legitimate tokens, most of which are not properly designed or vetted.
  3. Institutional adoption is “coming fast” as early as the next 3-9 months by the old cadre of financiers, who have deep Blockchain subject matter knowledge.

Joseph Lubin is an ex-VP of Technology for Goldman Sachs and the co-founder of Ethereum in 2014. In 2015 he founded Consensys, a Brooklyn, NY based software production studio. His vision with Consensys is aimed at building the next generation of decentralized applications and utilities on Ethereum. Originally born in Toronto, Canada, Joe built a world-class resume as the Chief Operating Officer of one of the most prolific Dapps and smart contract platforms to date, Ethereum.

Joe’s Message: Ethereum has come a long way and despite scaling issues presses on. Ethereum continues to make great strides by not only hitting critical development milestones but is also attracting the best talent in the world. Talent that is creating projects and protocols built on top of Ethereum and ultimately further strengthening the community.

Bill Tai was originally trained as a chip designer when he joined LSI Logic, a seminal Silicon Valley startup formed by the CEO of Fairchild Semiconductor. Since 1991 Bill Tai has been funding startups as a VC including Airswap, Gamma, BlockSeer and fund SparkChain CapitalHe also co-created the annual Blockchain Summit on Necker Island in 2014.

Currently, he is co-founder and Chairman of Treasure Data, board member of BitFury, Hut8, and Voxer and a lead seed investor in Canva, Color Genomics, Safety Culture, Tweetdeck/Twitter, and Zoom Video.

Bill’s Message: Around this same time of year (May 17, 1792 to be exact) the Buttonwood Agreement was signed under a Buttonwood tree in New York in an effort to organize securities trading. This agreement was a precursor for Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange. In that same spirit today, we are at a similar moment in time where we are defining agreements for the future of finance.

Old black and white of buttonwood
The Buttonwood Agreement being signed under a Buttonwood tree


Jehan Chu, Co-founder and Managing Partner of Kenetic

Jehan is the founder of Ethereum Hong Kong Blockchain technology community since March, 2014. He grew the audience from 5 members to 1,100 and personally hosted over 60 Blockchain events including Ethereum Founder, Vitalik Buterin, 7 times. He then expanded the group to a Shenzhen chapter. Now Jehan runs Kenetic, a Blockchain platform focused on technology, advisory, asset management and community

Jehan’s message: Asia is a sleeping giant and Crypto industry incumbent. Known for a friendly regulatory environment and well-attended crypto communities, ten of the top twenty coins by market cap are Asian-based projects.

Jehan Chu speaking

Erika Karp, founder of Cornerstone Capital

Erika Karp holds a BS in Economics from Wharton and an MBA in Finance from Columbia University. Erika is the Founder and CEO of Cornerstone Capital Inc. who mission is to apply the principles of sustainable finance across the capital markets, enhancing investment processes through transparency and collaboration.

Prior to launching Cornerstone, Erika was Managing Director and Head of Global Sector Research at UBS Investment Bank where she Chaired the UBS Global Investment Review Committee and managed a global team of analysts and strategists. Erika is also a founding Board member of the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB)

Erika’s Message: We have a great opportunity to use Blockchain for social good. We have framed money as a religion as a society losing sight of the fact that currency is a transaction medium. Ultimately the old financial systems are broken and we need to envision a more robust future system.

Michael Oved, Co-Founder AirSwap, resident at ConsenSys

Michael is passionate about a future where people fearlessly trade digital value without third-party intervention. Prior to AirSwap, he spent his career as an algorithm trader at Virtu Financial.

Michael’s Message: Michael brought us back in time to a system called open outcry where buyers and sellers would shout orders out at each other much like an auctioneer. This eventually evolved into centralized databases maintained by third parties, this created security and counterparty risks

David Knott of OmiseGO

David Knott, Plasma researcher at OmiseGO

“Everything can be a learning experience and I am always applying what I learn to my day to day life. I work as hard as I play. Whether it’s chopping wood, leading kids in the wilderness or pulling my weight on a programming project, my goal is to finish with the best final product possible.”

David’s Message: David discussed Plasma as an off-chain scaling solution for blockchains like Ethereum with options for other chains as well. Plasma is making its root chains more scalable and practical for real-world use cases currently dominated by legacy institutions. Plasma lets you move your cryptocurrencies many times on its chain with a single corresponding root-chain transaction. In development is also eliminating confirmations required after you’ve signed a transaction.

Tom Trombridge

Tom Trowbridge, president at Hedera Hashgraph

Tom previously held positions with various investment management firms like Arden Asset Management, Atticus Capital and was a VP at Goldman Sachs.

Hedera Platform Chart

Tom’s Message: Blockchain technology is designed to be slow to allow time for blocks to be verified and added to the next chain. He argues that Blockchain scaling solutions are trying to get around the fundamental architecture of Blockchain ultimately making sacrificed to security.  Tom’s alternative is Hedera Hashgraph, a graph-based consensus algorithm he claims is testing at 100,000 transactions per second (tps) and can get up to 250,000 tps regionally with transactions costing millionths of a penny.

Amir Bandeali

Amir Bandeali, Co-founder and CTO @0xProject, former fixed-income trader @DRW

0x is an open, permissionless protocol which allows ERC20 tokens to be traded on the Ethereum blockchain” and will be used for “powering decentralized exchange.”

0x relies on off-chain order books to match bid and ask orders which are ultimately settled on-chain. The initial implication of this difference is that 0x will attract exchange of more liquid assets where price-discovery is not a bottleneck.

Amir’s Message: Developers can create a whole layer below decentralized exchanges. That is the whole premise of 0x, an open protocol which enables decentralized exchanges to be built on top of.

Panels included topics like the legal landscape and current regulatory environment:

Legal Landscape

As well as decentralized exchanges (DEX):

DEX Panel

A panel discussing DEXs and other trading toolsSource

The panel was focused on tools for the ecosystem including decentralized exchanges (DEX), wallets, APIs and protocols to help interconnect and augment the needs of users (i.e. liquidity).

Panellists included:

  • Internet Crypto celebrity and AirSwap advisor, Crypto Bobby (Rob Paone) as the moderator
  • Alex Wearn, co-founder of IDEX, an ERC-20 based decentralized exchange (DEX)
  • Stefan George, co-founder and CTO of Gnosis, prediction market if residence under Consensys
  • Thomas France, co-founder and VP of Business Development of Ledger, provides security and infrastructure solutions including hardware wallets
  • Dan Mosites, co-founder of AirSwap

Ultimately, the panel expressed the need for a greater focus on improving user experience and design both from an interface perspective and back end.

The Debate on “Will Cryptocurrency Flourish or Fail” between “Dr Doom” Nouriel Roubini and Joe Lubin was lively:

Ultimately, Nouriel poked holes in the emergence of scammy ICOs and implored the community to “stop these scams” in addition he mentioned how there are just too many options for things to be practical. Joe countered by offering to show Nouriel the code which brought woos from the crowd.

Crypto Trader by CNBC Africa was in the house, shout out to Adrian Baschuk, the new producer of the show:

That’s like criticizing Tim Berners-lee when he invented the web that we don’t have e-commerce yet or interactivity on web pages or mobile or social. It takes time to build these things. Ethereum is an astonishingly successful platform. It’s version 1.“ ~Joseph Lubin, co-founder of Ethereum, when asked about Ethereum being “too slow to scale”.

Big Announcement! The Fluidity Platform by AirSwap

Fluidity is not just a fancy name for a conference but is also a new platform being released by AirSwap that was unveiled at the end of the conference.

Coinmonks covered this in their fluidity recap:

“Don Mosites of AirSwap answered why we had all been gathered in one location: the introduction of Fluidity. Fluidity will be a full stack digital investment bank that will handle the sourcing/origination, structuring, launching/selling, and secondary market trading of digital assets. Each stage will be led by a specific team:

  • Sourcing: Dixon Advisory (a NY-based real estate investment trust)
  • Structuring: Genesis Block (a blockchain consultancy and advisory firm)
  • Launching: Token Foundry (a ConsenSys mesh team focused on issuance of legitimate consumer tokens)
  • Trading: AirSwap (the star of the show: a P2P decentralized exchange)

Since AirSwap is a P2P DEX, it needs developers to build relayer solutions on top of it. Accordingly, it announced a trading API and widget API for AirSwap developers (along with a telegram group:”

Til the next Blockchain adventure, thanks for reading!

Further Reading

Fluidity Recaps

Crypto Trader on CNBC Africa:

Hashgraph presentation “From Chain to Graph”: 


AirSwap’s post-Blockchain week Livestream:


Plasma: |

33+ Binge Worth Recaps on Consensus 2018: 


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