5 Days in Denver Colorado: ETHDenver, Buffalo, and Lots of Snow!

ETHDenver 2020 Photo: optictopic

Pictures and some thoughts from my experience at ETHDenver in Denver, Colorado this year!

Visiting Denver for the first time

Attending my first ever ETHDenver event was a pretty big deal. I haven’t visited the US for a long time. I believe the last time I was there was for the Maker Faire Bay Area in 2014. We planned the business trip itinerary last minute (as always). Didn’t decide to attend ETHDenver until many of our friends and acquaintances said they were definitely going, which was like some 3 weeks before the big event. I didn’t know what to expect in part because I didn’t know that many people who had been to Colorado. In other words, I had very low expectations.

Landing in Vancouver with a view of pretty snow-capped mountains

And so, I was thrilled to see lots of snow! I’ve never seen this much snow in my life! It was like minus 9 degrees Celsius outside. My body was shaking, my feet got cold quickly, my face was freezing. I really felt like it was too much for me. It was so cold, I felt like I had never experienced winter before.

My Denver trip was full of snowy memories!

The day we arrived at Denver airport, there was a storm. I kept worrying about the driver’s ability to see - she was scraping ice and snow off the car windshield while driving on the highway. We stayed at a blockchain startup founder’s house in Littleton in Colorado. It was huge! I’ve never lived in big houses like the one I’d stayed in. It was like some six bedrooms, a kitchen, a dining room, a big living room with a fireplace, a library (omg a library!), a game room, where you get to do lots of very difficult puzzles, a couple bathrooms, a garage, a basement, a pretty garden, and maybe there’s more I just don’t know. I’m so jealous of the space folks in Colorado enjoy. Unlike Taipei City, I feel like there’s plenty of space and room to move about in Colorado.

My First EthDenver! February 2020 Photo: optictopic

My first ETHDenver

As a first-time attendee, the ETHDenver experience was exciting and at times overwhelming. The exciting part was I met a lot of interesting people in the space! The overwhelming part was the venue was really packed with a lot of guys and there was only one place you could go if you wanted to use the bathroom. The other thing was because we had no cars, we had to rely on Uber to get around. It was something I had to get used to because in Taipei this wouldn’t be an issue at all. I wouldn’t have to rely on anyone or any ride-hailing for my transportation needs because the public transportation system is pretty available.

Spotted this little buffalo fellow in a secret chamber.

The ETHDenver hackathon main event was held February 14-16 at Sports Castle at 1000 Broadway in Denver. We also attended the SustainWeb3 event on Thursday, February 13, one day prior to the main event. The SustainWeb3 event was organized by the Gitcoin team, featuring speakers such as Vitalik Buterin (Ethereum Foundation), Hudson Jameson (Ethereum Foundation), Kevin Owocki (Gitcoin), and Nathan Schneider (the University of Colorado Boulder). The event was moderated by Abbey Titcomb (Radicle).

Had a morning taco date with CC and Vitalik at a restaurant nearby.

So I was there on Thursday morning, my very first time visiting Denver’s Sports Castle, and there I was, just standing there at the entrance, not doing anything really, just trying to warm up (it was freezing cold!) and was just sort of randomly spotted by Vitalik. (I wonder if he spotted me entering the building first or if he spotted CC first.) He waved at us. He was happy to see us, and we were happy to see him. (It’s been quite a while! The last time I saw him was in Osaka, Japan for Devcon).

We went to grab some tacos across the street. It was probably one of the most memorable tasty meals that I had had during my Denver trip. They were soft and very delicious. I loved it! We chatted about Status wallet’s latest development (It was the day Status announced their version 1.0!), about Glen Weyl’s possible trip to Asia this summer, and about math (of course)!

My very cute EthDenver badge.

Met a lot of cool people!

I think my ETHDenver experience as a first-timer was pretty cool. I met so many interesting people! I met Thomas Hsueh, a Boston-based electrical engineer originally from Taiwan. He got his master’s degree from Harvard, and his bachelor’s from National Taiwan University. While having a full-time job, he recently started working on a podcast program with a few blockchain startup founders and a couple of sponsors. Last month he did a podcast interview with my boss Dominic Letz, CTO of Diode, which was super cool. Listen to the episode here.

Just hanging out with a buffalo, an animal which happens to be the mascot of ETHDenver. Photo: optictopic

Anton Cheng, another Taiwanese engineer I met at ETHDenver, was at the time an engineer working at a crypto hardwallet company CoolWallet. He recently became a full-time engineer at Opyn Insurance, writing JavaScript and Solidity code. Wayne Chang, a really smart and fun American I met on the last day of ETHDenver, told me a bunch of cool stuff about not just the blockchain space but also lots of cool places in San Francisco (my next stop after Denver). He was working for Alpine/ConsenSys at the time, and now he’s become a blockchain startup founder working on decentralized identity projects along with two cofounders. How cool is that!

Met a few Chinese folks from other cities in America.

I met Kunho Kim, a young, very much Americanized Korean who got his degree in environmental science and public policy from Harvard. We met briefly when Vitalik and I were just hanging out, checking out the ramp that’s inside the Sports Castle. So I think Kunho was injured somehow and was paralyzed from the waist down. But he always seemed so confident, so fearless! About a month ago, Kunho sent me a YouTube video which he made introducing a COVID-19 campaign he’d initiated. Thought that was pretty cool.

My favorite spot is the SKALE coffee zone of course. Photo: optictopic

Justin Leroux, a Boston-based marketing and business development lead at GridPlus (a hardware wallet maker), is another fun American I met at ETHDenver. He’s also an ETHBoston organizer. I was a bit suprised to learn that he actually speaks pretty good Mandarin. Ah well, but I’m always surprised when I meet Americans who speak more than one language. I recently asked his thoughts on multisig wallets, and he told me about a software based multisig called Gnosis Safe. He said their reputation is good and it seems to be the best software option for now. By the way, Justin’s got two kids now!! Remy, a little 3 year old, and Sophie the newborn baby. I can’t wait to meet them when I’m in Boston!

I also met a few women at ETHDenver. I met Megan Knab, founder and CEO at VeriLedger, and I met Nora Liu, a front-end engineer from Taiwan. I saw Abbey Titcomb from a distance doing a really great job moderating the SustainWeb3 event, as well as presenting a hackathon project called Flowerpot with a team member on the last day of the event.

My 5-day Denver trip was too short for an adventure seeker like me. I didn’t have time to explore the city! I would love to come back. Maybe visit Boulder, and hopefully Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park next time.