Recap of the Inaugural Blockland Solutions Conference - Day 3

Monday, December 3, 2018—Cleveland, OH 

As a marketing agency for B2B software & tech companies, we couldn’t be more excited that the Blockland Solutions conference is taking place right here in our hometown. Here’s a recap of Day 3 so far...

The inaugural Blockland Solutions Conference is taking place right here in The Land, where Cleveland is planting their stake as the nation’s hub for blockchain. National news is reiterating that the city is “open for business” for this emerging tech.

More than 1,700 blockchain developers and business professionals came together to hear from early adopters, tech experts, and business leaders about the direction and implementation of public and private blockchain.

Over the weekend, nearly 200 developers attended technical training before the wider group joined Sunday evening for the conference kick-off.

Day 3 of the sold-out conference kicked off with some big names: Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson; Congressman Warren Davidson; blockchain superstar Nick Szabo; Beth MooneyChairman and CEO, KeyCorp; and John Donovan, CEO, AT&T Communications.

Congressman Warren Davidson related blockchain to a balance sheet; unlike a balance sheet, however, blockchain and cryptocurrency don’t fit perfectly into a “debit” or “credit” column. It’s in a sense it’s own asset category—not quite a debt, not quite equity.

Introducing a bill coming later this year that would better define this third asset category, Congressman Davidson highlighted the importance of making sure this third asset category is clearly defined, especially as it related to SEC oversight.

Nick Szabo, Inventor of Smart Contracts and Bit Gold

Nick Szabo, who could be described as a blockchain superstar (who knew there were such a thing!) spoke about the history of blockchain, going all the way back to pre-paper, clay artifacts eras.

Nick introduces the origins of blockchain as “trust minimization,” ultimately building software solutions to “minimize vulnerabilities of all parties to each other, outsides, infrastructure, providers, counterparts, and third parties.”

For us non-developers, blockchain can be a bit of a foreign topic; Nick gave us a simple way to test whether or not blockchain is truly a blockchain; if there are blocks, and if they are chained together. Surprisingly simple!

All jokes aside, Nick went deep on smart contracts; financial contracts and dispute mediation, as well as smart evidence and smart property.

A simple blockchain application is found within “smart contracts,” the ability to make offers, accept or reject offers, or revoke an offer if the recipient has yet accepted or rejected the offer, all within the blockchain. The concept of smart contracts is applicable to a variety of industries, including real estate, car purchases, or any purchase which involves an offer and contract—which could very well be your business today.

After hearing Nick effortlessly weave between highly technical blockchain lingo and the high-level, real-life business use cases, we now know why he’s a blockchain superstar.


Beth Mooney Chairman and CEO, KeyCorp; and John Donovan, CEO, AT&T Communications

In this “fireside chat,” Beth and John reviewed not only the opportunities but also the obligations regarding blockchain implementation. John noted that to some extent, every executive today has to be a technology executive.

As a technology executive himself, John is pursuing a variety of applications for blockchain technology, including smart contracts, ad placement and 5G implementation.

Summing up how important it is to keep up with the emerging tech, Beth added, “If you hate change, you’re really going to hate extinction.”

Interesting to us marketers was the discussion of how blockchain could, in the future, impact how ads are placed.

Marketers are well aware that a perfectly placed, hyper-targeted ad can make all the difference, and blockchain may help us get even more targeted. Imagine—two completely different sets of ads playing during the same show, to two different households right next door to each other.

A digital ad platform that is built with blockchain technology could allow for the delivery of TV ads customized for the user, which is good for advertiser and consumers alike.

“The digitization of trust”

There is so much within the financial and communications sectors that are trust-based. For example, if your ATM shorts you $20 at any point, that trust in ATMs, and maybe even your bank, would be infinitely lost.

Blockchain can help establish and even restore trust where industries are open to vulnerabilities.


Making Cleveland the nation’s blockchain capital

“I’m intrigued that Cleveland would put on an event like this,” says Donovan. “I’m impressed that folks here recognize the impact that blockchain can have, and that recognition can transform what goes on in a city.”

When asked what it will take for Cleveland to be successful, John notes a few important areas, including some tough calls.

John says that “it is more about persistence than brilliance, and more about collaboration than capital”, noting how important it is for business leaders to collaborate with area universities. Persistence and collaboration? Who better than Cleveland?!

Here’s one that’ll be familiar to marketers; after the pieces start to come into place, John says that it then becomes about a flywheel. Most of the time, cities run out of energy, so it’s important to stick with it, reduce friction in that flywheel, and keep the momentum going.


When it comes to blockchain, many of us in the room aren’t experts—we’re here to learn. The first step, John says, is in becoming literate in blockchain, and that starts by learning the language.

By saying “I’m not a technical person, you’re opting out of the future,” says Donovan.

One of the things most exciting about blockchain is the reemergence of trust. If able to apply blockchain to anything in the home, John would bring blockchain to the internet “We’re raising a generation that never goes to the search engine page 2, says Donovan.” The concept of applying blockchain technology to cite, source, and deliver content is especially intriguing.

Time will tell how quickly and in which ways companies will implement blockchain technology, but change is inevitable. And we’re all here to see it first-hand.


Final thoughts

As a marketing agency for B2B software & tech companies, we couldn’t be more excited to welcome Blockland attendees to our hometown. AT&T CEO John Donovan said that it’ll take a city who is persistent, collaborative, and energized to earn the title of the blockchain capital of the world. And those are a few of the reasons why Cleveland is ready for blockchain.

If you’re a sales, marketing, or business leader ready to do big things with blockchain, we want to help you grow your business. Kiwi Creative helps tech companies with branding, lead generation, web design, sales enablement. Hit us up on the contact form below, or connect with Kiwi Creative Director of Marketing Kaity Huff at the conference @huffkaity.