There’s something ineffably pure and almost accidentally charming about a person with a total lack of self-awareness. And perhaps this is the root cause of our ongoing fascination with cryptocurrencies and the people who have decided to become notionally rich by trading them.
While recent events have caused some to rethink the notion of virtual currency as the financial foundation of a new world order designed to overthrow the rotten core of modern capitalism, it seems like real money might already be creeping into the behavior of financial techies who were previously hell-bent on being Woker Wolves of Not Wall Street...
The North American Bitcoin Conference wrapped up 10 hours of speeches by inviting 5,000 attendees to what it called a networking party. “It’s been a long day,” read the description. “Join us at E11even for some networking and R&R. Or dancing.”
The agenda didn’t mention that the networking event would be held in a 20,000-square-foot Miami strip club, praised on review sites for aerial acrobats and a relatively permissive attitude toward touching. During the mixer, waitresses in revealing tops and lingerie served drinks, and when the event technically ended at 11 p.m., plenty of attendees kept their conference badges on and stayed to party.
But wait, maybe they were doing it ironically. Like a "Wouldn't it be hilarious if we behaved like this?" kinda bit...
“We’re a bunch of dudes with a lot of money in our 20s. We like naked girls,” said Jeff Scott, a cryptocurrency trader from New York. He got a table for 12 with a hedge fund analyst and the heads of two startups, and said the evening wasn’t much different than his typical night in a strip club.
Well, no different aside from the fact that instead of horned-up dudes handling cash and credit cards, guys who rarely leave the glow of their computer screens were feverishly tapping at their smartphones and muttering "If you don't have Google authenticate, I can promise anything" at topless Moldovan blondes sitting reverse cowgirl in their laps and staring at their iPhones, trying to figure out how to accept Ethereum into a new Gemini wallet.
But there is one other key difference between a crowd of real finance bros and a gaggle of crypto jockeys getting loose in a mammary mecca; We'll let the aforementioned Jeff Scott illustrate it by accident...
“If you don’t like it, that’s fine, but you’re not going to expect us to change.”
There it is. See, Wall Street guys (or whatever that means in this comparison) are known to frequent a strip club from time to time, but they have the basic wherewithal to feign shame if criticized for it. And they definitely know not to throw a fucking conference with women traders in one. These crypto guys like to fancy themselves as superior disruptors of the naughty global banking system, but they should short enough Ripple to buy a fucking clue.
Moe Levin, CEO of Keynote, which organized the conference, at first defended the choice of venue, calling it “the ideal layout for networking.” Nude performances were halted until 11 p.m., and if it later became a place where people felt uncomfortable, that wasn’t the conference’s fault, he said in a phone interview.
Hmmm, you're running a business in 2018. You gonna stick with that story, Moe?
Within a few hours, he did an about-face, a real-time demonstration of the growing pains in the nascent industry. “Having the networking party at E11even was a misstep,” he wrote in an email. “We always aim to be as inclusive as possible and create a safe environment.”
Yeah, we didn't think so.
See, this is all part of growing up. Feeling empowered by wealth is a tale as old as time, and paying for sexual gratification is one of its most loyal subplots. It's not new or shocking behavior for a bunch of nerds moving wealth around to get debaucherous (especially at a conference in Florida) but you gotta stop inviting female colleagues to strip clubs, not giving a fuck and then acting like you invented rich dudes grabbing at naked breasts in a crowded dark room.
We're not prudes, you guys, and we know that this kind of shit will always go down in some form or another, but there are rules to the game. And while money breeds privilege, you currently only have the privileges of new money...and not for nothing, but it's not even real money.