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Edge City: New Zuzalu Philosophy Takes Hold at ETH Denver 2024

Side events are a solution for congestion at NFT NYC or ETH Denver —and one NFT conference side event that stands out is Edge City. Zuzalu.

As Spring arrives, so do crypto and NFT conferences, and with ETH Denver and NFT NYC big talk this Month, 99Bitcoins crypto journalist Isaiah McCall deep-dives an emerging new type of side-event – inspired by Vitalik Buterin’s Zuzalu.

The side events are better at crypto conferences. There, I said it.

After a long day on the beat, one thing is obvious: Layer-2 solutions were developed to address Ethereum blockchain congestion, and side events are the solution for congestion at events like ETH Denver and NFT NTC.

Edge City Steals The Show at ETH Denver – Here’s Why:

In a stand-out move, Edge City, stole the show at ETH Denver earlier this month, with a new philosophy inspired by Vitalik Buterin’s Zuzalu events fuelling a potential shift in the way crypto conferences are conducted.


Hosted by three experienced Web3 professionals, Janine Leger, Timour Kosters, and Gary Sheng, Edge City is a pop-up village aimed at being an “innovation playground” for local communities.

It is a spinoff of Zuzalu, an exclusive retreat Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin helped host in Montenegro last year.

In a follow-up, this week, we sat down with one of the founders, Gary Sheng (former Google tech lead), to learn more about Edge City and its mission to foster community in the Web3 space.

Gary Sheng: Popup Villages Are ‘Society-Incubation’ Technology

Strolling into the heart of Edge City at ETH Denver, I was hit by a scene straight out of a fever dream—Janine, Timour, and the team had set up a kaleidoscope of co-working spaces, food trucks, saunas, cold plunges, and a presentation room for budding Web3 projects.

As I explored the venue, a stranger in the crowd, like a shaman – handed me a glass of CBD-infused lemonade. Of course, I gulped it down.

Sheng refers to these hip pop-up villages as “society-incubation technology” where developers can experiment with their ideas or technologies, such as dePIN-related tech.

Participants then get a firsthand experience of Web3’s potential interactively, and foster connections through these shared experiences.


These villages are not just about showcasing outstanding projects but also about promoting collaboration and community building.

“Governance innovation is a playground as much as anything else,” explained Sheng.

“So all these different people who are really innovating on interesting voting systems, reputation systems, public goods allocation systems, or village goods allocation systems are so excited to plug into what we’re doing and help them improve their mechanisms so they actually work better.”

ETH Denver’s Edge City: A Global Cross-Roads For Builders and Creators Crypto

Edge City was like an ETH Denver, within an ETH Denver – the event acted as a petri dish for new ideas and projects from innovated around the world, in one instance I met a group called Aya, which is educating African children in blockchain and Web3.

Aya’s goal is to equip youths with the skills needed to land high-paying tech jobs and help ensure no one is left behind in the digital economy revolution.

There were also Harvard and Stanford blockchain groups,,, and web2 tech entrepreneurs like Anthony Cross, who debuted a new type of all-electric motorcycle that he rode through the conference o – the Governor of Colorado even showed up.

The creative wonderland formed part and parcel of Janine’s vision who has built multiple pop-up co-living communities, and Sheng added there’s much more to come.

“Part of the vision is these 150 to 1000-person permanent villages that are sharing open-source technology and free open-source technology – everyone’s finding bugs, improving them, and sharing knowledge on how to create strong, thriving villages”.

The Bottom Line: Conferences Need A Return To Co-Working

Many crypto events I’ve attended over the years have had esoteric energy that makes it hard for everyday people to understand and connect with.

In one instance, at Bitcoin Miami, a Web3 developer explained to my beginner-level buddy why BTC would be the currency of Mars – needless to say gatekeeping is still a problem.

However, as the crypto industry shifts into the mainstream – Edge City; and side events in general – felt like a better model for implementing inclusive events for all groups including BLK Web3, Women of Web3, and health and wellness pop-ups.

Bridging these gaps will be critical in creating innovative co-working environments where Web3 builders can thrive – and with NFT NYC up next it will be interesting to see how this Zuzalu-theme develops throughout the year ahead.

The Zuzalu-linked Edge City event is Edge Esmeralda – a one-month stay in the Northern California region.

Explore: What is DePIN? Here Are 3 DePIN Crypto To Watch – March 2024

Disclaimer: Crypto is a high-risk asset class. This article is provided for informational purposes and does not constitute investment advice. You could lose all of your capital.

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