The Big Whale: The PBW will celebrate its 4th edition in March. What is the purpose of such an event?
Michael Amar: Our goal is to bring the Web3 ecosystem together and move it forward. I remember that at the time of the first edition of PBW (in 2019, ed.) not many people were working in blockchain and cryptos. Based on LinkedIn, there must have been a few hundred, maybe a few thousand people in France, no more!
Today, the ecosystem has grown. There are thousands of sales people, engineers, developers, who work on these topics, and this is felt even in the companies that we attract for the PBW.
What does that mean?
For this new edition, we will have a record number of "traditional" companies, almost as many as Web3 native companies. It's a real shift. We knew it would happen, but not necessarily this fast.
How do you explain this change?
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There are clearly two elements at play. First, the fact that it has been a very complicated year for the crypto sector culminating in the fall of FTX. A lot of players have been affected. They have cut back and therefore participate less in events, especially financially.
And the second point, which is directly related to the first, is that nature abhors a vacuum: traditional companies, especially Big Tech, have seen that there is a place to take and are therefore more present.
As you said, the crypto sector is suffering from the crisis. Isn't it complicated to organize such an event in these conditions?
This is obviously not a favorable context. Organizing an event like the PBW costs money, and sponsorship is very important. Excluding ticketing, it represents more than 50% of our budget, so the drop in investment from crypto players has an impact.
Are you going to be in balance?
Yes, it is planned.
How do you do it?
Precisely because of new players like Google and other companies and brands, especially in the luxury sector. There are dozens of world famous brands that will be present.
By joining all these groups, aren't you afraid of betraying the spirit of Web3?
No, not at all, it's the other way around, in my opinion. In fact, it's quite simple: if we stay among ourselves, the Web3 ecosystem will not grow, at least not fast enough.
What do the Web2 giants bring?
Lots of things, including users. When Instagram gets into NFTs, it's potentially hundreds of millions of people who can mine NFTs, own them, trade them...
If I wanted to be a little prickly, I would even say that there is a certain form of hypocrisy in not wanting these big groups. Most of the crypto and Web3 projects are working with the tech giants without perhaps even knowing it.
The reality is that if we want Web3 to develop, we have to go where the users are. Imagining that Web3 will be made without the Web2 actors is an illusion. Web3 needs the Web2 actors.
How is this edition going to work? Have you adapted the event to these newcomers?
We haven't changed anything, but the event is more business oriented. We will have several highlights like the "Talent Fair" which is a day dedicated to companies looking for Web3 profiles. There will be more than 1000 of them!
A lot of companies want to get into cryptos, make a collection of NFTs, but it's not easy to know who to work with, how, why? We want to help them with that.
There will also be an investor day that will bring together hundreds of players, investment funds, hedge funds, family offices, sovereign wealth funds, who are looking for projects to invest in. And of course we will have conferences and many speakers such as the head of Reddit, the CEO of L'Oréal, the head of all things NFT at Meta, the Solanateams...
Some people complain about the price of the tickets, which reach several thousand euros. What do you say to them?
Yes, I understand, but we are an event dedicated to companies, and we assume it. This year, we are at the Carrousel du Louvre, in the heart of Paris, with people coming from all over the world.
All this has a cost, but you have to understand that it is a huge opportunity for companies. For a few thousand euros, you can access investment funds, potential customers or partners, it's a real chance.
We are talking about Google, Meta, Reddit... Will there be enough French and European companies at the PBW?
Of course, 20% of the participants will be French and more than half will be European. Rare are the events of international scope where the French are so well represented. But we should also be pleased that Paris hosts so many world-class groups.
Don't you feel that there are too many conferences?
I don't know, the conferences are very different: some are very technical, very oriented towards individuals. We are targeting a more business audience and composed of companies.
How many people are you expecting?
We are aiming for 10,000 people over the week, which would be almost twice as many as in 2022 (6,000, ed. note)!
What is your goal this year?
Let there be business and let Europe and France shine. During our first edition, we brought in Binance and other big players, and we see that all these players are now present in France. This is an excellent thing.