Guide to Austin – Cointelegraph Magazine


This “Crypto City” information seems to be at Austin’s crypto tradition, the town’s most notable initiatives and folks, its monetary infrastructure, which retailers settle for crypto and the place you could find blockchain schooling programs — and there are even the juicy particulars of a well-known controversy. Everything is greater in Texas, together with its enthusiasm for crypto.


Fast info

City: Austin

Country: United States

Population: 974,000

Founded: 1839

Language: English


The capital of the biggest state within the contiguous United States, Austin is called a reside music mecca, with festivals drawing in hundreds of individuals from all over the world every year, together with Austin City Limits and South by Southwest. The Texas metropolis is a singular mix of liberal and conservative values, but in some ways, it nonetheless operates beneath the outdated motto “keep Austin weird,” with the University of Texas at Austin house to a various pupil physique and the favored Texas Longhorns soccer workforce.

Long earlier than changing into a hub of main tech firms — incomes it the nickname “Silicon Hills” — Austin drew settlers from Mexico and the United States across the time Texas grew to become an unbiased nation in 1836. Texas has stood beneath three flags with Austin as its capital: the Republic of Texas, the Confederacy and the United States of America. Though the town was largely centered across the capitol constructing accomplished in 1888, it later grew to become identified to many as a university city. For some years, the University of Texas at Austin was the biggest college within the nation by enrollment.

Austin and the encompassing space have additionally been the taking pictures location for numerous well-known movies, together with Death Proof from director Quentin Tarantino, Dazed and Confused — Matthew McConaughey’s first film function — and lots of others. Though the town as soon as drew, and nonetheless does draw, many ravenous artists pursuing their passions, curiosity from main firms and their rich executives has begun to drive many natives and newbies alike out of the realm because of rising hire and housing costs.

As the inhabitants of Austin grows, gentrification and commuting occasions stay a big downside for a lot of residents. The major freeway, Interstate 35 — which separates the downtown space from the freshly redeveloped East Austin — appears inadequately designed to accommodate the rising variety of Austinites, with some touring as much as 30 miles between their houses and workplaces. The metropolis faces challenges together with an absence of publicly supplied infrastructure for its homeless inhabitants, the way in which Austin’s land can be utilized, and different points endemic to the remainder of the United States.



Austin skyline. (Source: Pexels)



Crypto tradition

Many Texans have a “don’t tread on me” strategy to native, state and federal governments telling them tips on how to deal with their enterprise, their cash and their private life, regardless of the state displaying solely a lone star on its flag fairly than a snake. In some methods, Austin residents’ response to digital property since 2011 has been consultant of this mindset, with many leaping into the crypto house extra as an alternative choice to central banking fairly than a fad from the tech trade.

According to Paul Snow, a self-described “technologist” who runs the Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Meetup group in Austin and organizes the Texas Bitcoin Conference, the Texans who attend gatherings most constantly appear to be involved about “the state of the nation, and the state of banking and finance.” Snow says the group doesn’t deal with the most recent mission getting pumped and dumped, with many holding Bitcoin, Ether and SOL, though some are additionally advocates of Dogecoin and Shiba Inu.

“[Our discussion] is basically a real broad analysis of every issue that is either in the crypto space or heavily within the context of the crypto space. Because the crypto space is largely a challenge to central banks, at least in a lot of people’s minds, then anything that happens in banking and finance is interesting to us.”

Snow arrived in Austin in 2000 and began the Meetup teams in 2013, lengthy earlier than the U.S. authorities and Texas regulators turned their consideration to crypto corporations working within the metropolis. In mid-2021, the Texas State Securities Board filed for hearings in opposition to crypto lending agency BlockFi along with Celsius Network for allegedly providing unlicensed securities. However, lawmakers within the state additionally handed laws the identical yr recognizing cryptocurrencies beneath business regulation.

Crypto additionally has a supporter within the type of Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who has hinted on social media that he desires the state to comply with Wyoming’s instance in passing extra crypto-friendly laws. When Texas grocery store chain H-E-B introduced in June 2021 that it could be putting in crypto ATMs, Abbott tweeted his approval, saying, “Texas will be the crypto leader.” Senator Ted Cruz has additionally lately come out as a vocal crypto proponent.





Austin has beforehand hosted the SXSW Crypto Summit, Digital Assets and Securities Conference, Texas Blockchain Summit, Texas Bitcoin Conference and Bear Arms N’ Bitcoin commerce present. The metropolis can be anticipated to be the house of the key crypto-and blockchain-focused Consensus convention in June 2022.



Texas State Capitol constructing in Austin. Source: Pexels



Projects and corporations

Before cryptocurrencies and blockchain expertise existed, Austin and the encompassing space had the circumstances to make it ripe for alternative for the best tech corporations. Computer producer Dell is situated in close by Round Rock, and in October, Elon Musk introduced he can be shifting automotive producer Tesla’s headquarters near the town’s worldwide airport. Major tech firms together with Facebook, Google, IBM, Oracle and Hewlett Packard even have regional workplaces in Austin.

“There are just so many different levels where crypto ought to be adopted and I think that the municipalities that jump on early are going to do so much better than those that drag their feet,” says Snow.

“I don’t know if I have a lot of hope for that at a governmental level, but at a personnel level and development team level, I think Austin is pretty exciting and they’ll do well.”

Once officers in China started cracking down on Bitcoin miners, many corporations relocated to Texas for its low-cost electrical energy and seemingly crypto pleasant rules. Austin is house to crypto mining agency Blockcap, however different mining firms, together with Riot Blockchain and Bitdeer Group — an offshoot of Bitmain — have arrange store in close by Rockdale. Layer1 Technologies and Argo Blockchain additionally constructed mining amenities in West Texas.

Though many crypto exchanges and corporations providing monetary merchandise doubtlessly falling beneath the regulatory umbrella of the Securities and Exchange Commission or the Commodity Futures Trading Commission have headquarters within the United States, the town of Austin itself appears to draw extra startups coping with safety and blockchain expertise than with shopping for and buying and selling tokens. Companies resembling Pinata, Titan and Talos have workers primarily based within the metropolis, whereas Inveniam, Factom, Multicoin Capital, Horizen Labs and others have native workplaces.





Financial infrastructure

In February 2014, the primary Robocoin Bitcoin ATM in Austin was put in at HandleBar, a bar situated downtown. The launch of the machine was one of many first within the United States and preceded firms like Coinsource and Bitcoin Depot putting crypto ATMs in quite a lot of areas across the capital metropolis along with the gradual acceptance of crypto funds for items and companies.





Where can I spend crypto?

Though bank cards, Apple Pay and money funds are nonetheless largely king within the United States, there are numerous companies round Austin that settle for BTC, together with eating places, grocery shops and images studios. The grocery store chain H-E-B’s areas in Austin don’t host crypto ATMs or settle for funds in Bitcoin or Ether but, however in accordance with Coinmap, there are roughly 90 shops within the space that do settle for digital property.





In Austin, Starbucks, Home Depot, Whole Foods and others settle for crypto funds via third-party apps. Aside from the key retail chain shops, a number of eating places within the downtown space and Rainey Street Historic District, together with Mai Thai, enable Austinites to pay for his or her meals utilizing crypto. However, many of those companies have shuttered within the final yr, doubtless because of the pandemic.

Like Miami and New York City, Austin at the moment has its personal CityCoin constructed on Stacks, an open-source community of decentralized functions and good contracts that use the Bitcoin blockchain as a programmable base layer. The initiative from CityCash has acquired public assist from each the mayors of Miami and NYC for his or her respective tokens, however Austin Mayor Steve Adler has not but endorsed a digital coin for the Texas capital metropolis.






The University of Texas at Austin at the moment presents programs on blockchain via the McCombs School of Business and on the usage of expertise in a decentralized financial system via its School of Information. Students at each UT Austin and St. Edward’s University had lively cryptocurrency golf equipment previous to the pandemic, and Austin Community College partnered with IBM in 2019 as a part of an apprenticeship program aimed toward coaching college students contemplating careers in blockchain and extra. However, doubtless as a result of so many crypto and blockchain corporations have discovered a house in Texas, there are additionally extra courses hosted by non-public firms on occasion.



The University of Texas at Austin soccer recreation. Source: Pexels

Controversies and collapses

Austin was as soon as the house of Ross Ulbricht, creator of the notorious darknet market Silk Road. Operating beneath the pseudonym “Dread Pirate Roberts” — an homage to the film The Princess Bride —Ulbricht began growing the location in 2010 after returning to Austin following his commencement from Penn State. He prevented the authorities till his arrest in San Francisco in 2013.

Silk Road allowed customers to purchase and promote illicit items resembling weapons and stolen bank card data, however most of the listings have been for unlawful medicine, all of which drew the eye of the FBI. Since his arrest and conviction, Ulbricht is at the moment serving two life sentences with out the opportunity of parole. He was discovered responsible of cash laundering, pc hacking and conspiracy to visitors narcotics, however he nonetheless offers periodic analyses on the crypto market from jail.

Notable figures in Austin and former residents

Tesla CEO and Dogecoin proponent Elon Musk; Jimmy Song, a Bitcoin developer and crypto influencer identified for carrying a cowboy hat; Nathan Nichols, a board member of the Texas Blockchain Council; Jim Breyer, the enterprise capitalist behind Breyer Capital; Bitcoin Frankie, a crypto influencer and proprietor of Brand Besties; and Ross Ulbricht, creator of the now-defunct Silk Road darknet market. Cointelegraph workforce members primarily based in Texas: Turner Wright, Rachel Wolfson and Ray Salmond

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