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NFT Paris 2024: A show and tell of what web3 built during the bear

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2023 was characterized by a sense of forced optimism and survival; but this year, a tone of growing confidence defined the experience

Event Recap

Written by Marissa Trew, Director of Engagement, Emerging Sector

It was my second time being invited to host an interview on the NFT Paris mainstage. The first was last year. It was literal winter and crypto winter; arguably the darkest point in the industry. Many were still licking their wounds at the start of 2023, with the FTX collapse having just happened in the November prior. Nevertheless, over 18,000 people turned up to champion NFTs in every form – PFPs, art, gaming assets, and so on. 

This year, while it was still cold (and very rainy), it felt more like the early beginnings of crypto spring. The bear market was beginning to thaw, and green shoots emerged through the rubble, and it was time to reveal what everybody had spent the last year working on. A quick scan would reveal who survived the harsh winter, who was thriving, and who sadly didn’t make it.   

Throughout the two-day event, thousands of people meandered through the vast space, weaving between booths displaying immersive video game experiences, multi-modal art, and fashion. Two Teslas sat parked on one end of the exhibition hall – a lure to draw people into the actual main attraction, a Tesla Optimus prototype; Elon Musk’s latest AI passion project. 

Of course, it wouldn’t be NFT Paris (or Paris, frankly) without a protest right outside. In both years, pockets of protestors appeared yielding picket signs, chanting, “NFTs are dead.” People clearly still aggravated by the continued time, attention, and money paid to a technology they fundamentally still don’t understand. Despite its survival (and notable progress), web3 is still pockmarked by poor press and negative stigma. But the inside of the hall told a different story. 

Protests did nothing to deter the enthusiasm of it all. Against the backdrop of the Eiffel Tower, influential figures within the industry filled the Grand Palais Éphémère to talk about what’s next in the future of this mystery bag of tech. Conversations moved beyond why web3 is so revolutionary to what has actually been built to actualize that potential across every vertical. 

Yat Siu, the founder of Animoca Brands, delved deep into how web3 provided new means of reshaping capitalism. Austin Federa, head of strategy at Solana Foundation, presented how a simplified user experience would enable greater mass adoption. Erick Calderon, CEO of Art Blocks, spoke of what lay at the intersection of generative art and crafted products. 

I hosted a conversation on “Web3 in Sport: Invisible Tech, Visible Impact” with Pär Helgosson, head of web3 and metaverse at Paris Saint-Germain, Jordi Mompart, head of research at FC Barcelona, and Max Rabinovitch, CSO of Chiliz and They spoke of the shift in the relationship between brands and web3 from obscene sponsorship deals in exchange for exclusivity to deeper, more integrated partnerships – evidenced by Paris Saint Germain announcing it would become the first network validator of the Chiliz network. 

It is a high-level indicator of how brands think about interacting with web3. It is beginning to extend well beyond superficial marketing plays, into more meaningful engagement. It represents the evolution of NFTs and web3 from marketing buzzwords into a core part of any brand strategy. 

Meanwhile, fringe events sprouted across the city. Bright Moments – a digital art gallery for generative and AI artists – took over Le Marais. Music producer and artist, Agoria, performed live in the Musée D’Orsay. NFT collective, World of Women, hosted a gala in honor of their community. Web3, as a vessel for arts and culture, continues to thrive, whether the masses choose to pay attention or not. 

Sure, we’re still very early on in terms of how this technology scales to the masses, but what’s critical is that the commitment to that vision of the future seems to be growing more sustainably this time around. There’s a – dare I say – more mindful approach towards how web3 fits into the greater mosaic of our lives, rather than a panicked frenzy. Maybe, just maybe, things will be different this time around. 

So, while 2023 was characterized by a sense of forced optimism and survival; a tone of growing confidence defined 2024. Incessant chants of “WAGMI” were replaced by “We are so back!!!!” A shift in the collective feeling of having something to prove toward an assertive claim over its value. In some ways, the industry had matured; in many other ways, it retained the same audacious, unapologetic energy that makes it feel oh-so familiar.