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Incredibly, the main stage sessions were a sideshow compared to the week’s after-hours activities. On Monday night, cryptocurrency giant Circle’s cofounders hosted a dinner at Gramercy Tavern, where they answered questions about their decision to accept an infusion of capital from Bitmain, China’s biggest Bitcoin miner. The investment marked up the company’s valuation to nearly $3 billion. At the private dining room table, I sat next to Jim Breyer, an early Facebook investor, who politely declined to reveal the content of his recent discussions with David Marcus, Facebook’s new blockchain lead, despite my prodding.

On the next night, I made my way to a Snoop Dogg concert hosted by Ripple, stockpiler of XRP, the world’s third-most valuable cryptocurrency by market capitalization. En route, a Zeus-like bolt of hot plasma—larger than any I had seen in my life—crashed down Avenue of the Americas, and briefly illuminated the city; I forged onward. On stage at a venue in the West Village, the “Gin & Juice” crooner passed around what appeared, from my vantage point, to be a lit blunt. “Wanna get fucked up?” he asked an obliging crowd.


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