Prepping for Ethereum DevCon5(part 1: Revising the history)

Jul 15, 2019 · 7 min read
Kickback in the past three DevCon events

Last week, I was lucky enough to present remotely at “#RoadToDevcon” meetup in Tokyo and shared my experience of both attending and presenting at past DevCons.

The talk was based on the blog post I wrote in Japanese while back)日本語バージョンはこちら) and this is the English version.


I am originally from Japan but have been in UK for over 15 years and currently working as a software engineer focusing on Ethereum.

My original career started as a database administrator at a large financial firm and transitioned into Ruby On Rails developers back in 2006. I was interested in Ethereum from the beginning of 2016 (just around the “Homestead” release) while working at an insurance company in UK. I currently work at two blockchain organisations, ENS (Ethereum Name Service, naming system to resolve Ethereum address into human readable name), and Kickback (free event ticketing service with unique “Kickback” feature, formerly known as “BlockParty”).


  • Location: Shanghai, China
  • Date: September 2016
  • Estimate number of participants: 900

DevCon2 was the first large scale Ethereum conference I have attended.

What was hot back then

  • Metamask was released a month before the DevCon hence the majority of people still had their own full node on their laptop (including myself).
  • Ethereum was hit by some DDOS attack from the night before DevCon. I remember that Vitalik praised on stage that FirstBlood was conducting ICO in the middle of the attack.
  • Ethereum Classic was still new thing and I met a guy called “Trouty” who called him self as “King of ETC”. According to him, he had a deal with Vitalik and agree that he keeps ETC land while Vitalk can keep the ETH land. It was really a wild Wild West at that time.
  • The term ICO was still new and I remember that I was wondering why there were so many non tech people trying to sell their coins/tokens to me.
  • Consensys had a big presence talking about their projects such as Truffle, Metamask, and Gnosis. I remember that I was really jealous when Aaron Davis from Metamask told me that the whole Consensus team was going to do a retreat in Bali after DevCon5
  • Parity (used to be called EthCore) just published parity node and wallet.
  • Open Zeppelin open sourced their libraries. Apparently my project (BlockParty, back then) was the first project using their library.

Visiting the host city

  • Due to Great Wall of China, I could not use GoogleMap, Facebook, Twitter. The most communication was via Gitter or WeChat
  • You could use western services via VPN but that made network very slow.
  • I was often ignored when I trie to ask direction in English

DevCon and side events experience

  • We had to wait a lot for the first day check-in process and ended up missing the first few talks. I had a chat with Ethfans (local Ethereum meet up) and they said that they could have helped by using laser printer and print name tags on demand (which is a common way to handle thousands of registration in China)
  • Buffet style lunch was delicious
  • All talks are in a single track
  • There weren’t any official communication channel about after party and side events so many people were relying on posts on WeChat
  • I organised “Smart contract security meetup” in a coffee shop near the conference venue. A couple of people from Consens Diligence (before the team was formed) and Simon de la Rouviere of TCR fame was there as well.
  • I saw a group of Japanese people as participants but the only Japanese speaker was Yoichi Hirai from Ethereum Foundation talking about Formal Verification.

Eating own dogfood (aka trying out blockchain solution during the event)

  • Piper Marriam (the maintainer of were right next to the check-in desk taking photo of participants and issuing Proof Of Event token
  • I organised a dinner party using Kickback(BlockParty back then). Unfortunately there were no kickback due to full turn up. One of participants actually purchased EtherRisk flight delay insurance to hedge the risk of missing my event which was very funny.


  • Location: Cancun , Mexico
  • Date: November 2017
  • Estimate number of participants: 1800

What was hot back then

  • ICO
  • CryptoKitty was released during EthWaterloo, the first ETHGlobal hackathon took place a few weeks prior to Deacon. CryptoKitty was so popular that it was the causing congestion on Ethereum network.
  • The second Parity Multisig hack happened a few days after DevCon
  • Peter Kim, the creator of Cipher Browser was running around the event to promote his brand new wallet which was later acquired by Coinbase. It was the beginning of the rush of mobile wallets.

Visiting the host city

  • Consensys announced not to visit Cancun as a company due to security concerns.
  • A couple of my friends who rented cars were robbed by police officers.
  • There were some side events where event companions wore too revealing costume which were not so suitable for technology events. I guess that was the due to the height of ICO plus event happened in the resort place.
  • I enjoyed visiting world heritage, tried diving and free yoga session lead by other participants at a beach near our condo every morning

DevCon and side events experience

  • Had to wait long time and missed a few talks, repeat of the pervious year.
  • Lunches were not good
  • There were two tracks
  • The conference hall was in the middle of the town and had easy access.
  • I created an event calendar using with google calendar which became quite popular. I had over 30 events on my calendar and got invited to most of events though I didn’t go most of them as I was worried that I became too drunk and got kidnapped by mafias.
  • Crashed into Open Zeppelin’s pool party. Quite a leap from the meetup at a cafe which we had a year earlier.
  • Didn’t see many Japanese participants. Again Yoichi was the only Japanese speaker.

Eating own dog-food

  • Uport presented ”Proof of Attendance” by scanning QR code presented in the big screen with their app, though someone posted the QR code online to prove the point that POA is not that easy.
  • Fetsy created a wrist band with NFC chip embedded to event participants and minted some tokens which they can spend at the event buying drinks.
  • This time I organised a dinner event using Kickback with 15 people capacity.However, more than usual number of people could not make it to the restaurant as GoogleMap pointed to the wrong address as the restaurant recently moved the location.


  • Location: Prague, Czech
  • Date: November 2018
  • Estimate number of participants: 2700

What was hot back then

  • In the middle of Crypto Winter. STO(Security Token Offering) hasn’t got that much momentum yet.
  • Big blockchain companies such as Consensus,, and Spankchain announced downsizing.
  • MakerDAO and Defi(Decentralised Finance) attracted lots of attention

Visiting the host city

  • I visited Prague a few times before the event so relatively aware of the city
  • Events are scattered across the town so moving around was a bit of pain.
  • I initially used Uber to move around but switched to the local equivalent which was a bit cheaper.
  • DevCon ticket came with bus pass but I never used it.

DevCon and side events experience

  • DevCon tickets sold out in 15 min, just like ICO!
  • No one missed the keynotes as the first day was treated as “Day zero” focused on check in while people were able to drop by EF grantee booths at their own convenience.
  • Buffet style lunch was a lot better than pervious year. I noticed that Czechs have sweet tooth.
  • Check-in process was strict. I heard that even some sponsors could not get in because they lost their lanyard.
  • Their relaxation room was fantastic! I was running around for both ENS and Kickback related works so I used the room a couple of times to take rest.
  • Event calendar became sophisticated. Prague Blockchain week forked Berlin Blockchain week calendar which happened a few months earlier. There were also at least two other so called “event calendar” and they seem to copy each other’s event info.
  • There were so many side events and some events even rented a castle. I ended up staying in Prague for over ten days.
  • Swags were held at Prague customs. Neither DevCon official T-shirts nor Kickback T-shirts passed the customs until 2nd day of the event. We distributed only small amount and ended up bringing lots back home.
  • I think the Japanese speakers were only me and Aya Miyaguchi (aka. “引き算の美学!) though I couldn’t check all speakers due to the size of the events.

Eating own dog-food (aka trying out blockchain solution during the event)

My project received a small funding from We rebranded from BlockParty to Kickback and relaunched during DevCon4.

Over 500 people have used among several side events.


Here is the summary of the last three DevCon events.

  • “What’s hot” changes every year
  • Despite the capacity is getting bigger, the demand seems increasing even bigger that there were people who visited the host city despite not having tickets.
  • I personally felt DevCon4 was ran a lot smoother than the previous two.
  • Someone always comes up with some sort of ”Proof of attendance”
  • People are hungry for side events info
  • There have been only handful of Japanese speakers
  • People associate the quality of lunch to the events

In the next blog post, I would like to predict what to come at the upcoming DevCon5.