Ian’s Money 2020 2022 Review
By Ian Kar
What’sssss up everyone—hope y’all are ready for my review of Money 2020 2022.
Contrary to popular belief, this is the second time I’ve gone to this thing, despite my 10ish years of being in fintech. When I was a reporter I was deemed too young to go on trips…the fact is though that fintech wasn’t a big enough sector to warrant sending a 23 year old to Vegas for half a week (media companies are very cheap.) Then, when I became a PM, there was no actual reason to go—exec teams went because they needed to meet with investors and potential partners, but all that is usually above a PM’s pay grade.
But as someone who is now getting into venture, it’s important to start making those connections and going to the right events. So here I am, at my second Money 2020.
What is Money 2020?
Money 2020 is a fintech-focused conference that happens every year in Las Vegas. It’s the biggest one of its kind, and it’s a great place to network and learn about the latest and greatest.
It’s also a massive money making endeavor—tickets cost ~$4,000 (basically 1 months rent for my last apartment in LA), and the booths are apparently ~$40,000 according to a quick Google search. Sorry, but hard pass—I don’t find the actual conference that interesting either, as a lot of these panels and discussions are lagging indicators (if people are sharing info is public that must mean its not super valuable, IMO.)
So, I absolutely did not pay for the conference and didn’t attend—I know other fintech newsletters did a full review of the panels at the conference, and maybe they got press passes or something—but I can’t justify spending $4-8k on a conference. Not to mention the hotels, which were insanely priced as well (we stayed at the Wynn which was…not cheap.) If you’re looking for a full review of Money 2020 2022, with the panels and all, check out my coworker Alex Johnson’s post.
As I mentioned, Sunday night started off with a bang with the Activant Capital x FTT x TWIF x Truework x Rutter API Money 2020 Kickoff (its a mouthful so we just called it the Money 2020 Kickoff.) You can read more about that in last week’s essay. It was a ton of fun and got to meet a ton of readers & founders that read Fintech Today…thanks for coming by!
Stevie & I called it an early night Sunday but some folks went to XS (a club) to see Dillion Francis (a DJ.) I did not—I was sober the whole trip and frankly I’m super tired from work, so didn’t feel up for a rager.
Monday was epic, full stop. Had some great meetings with some founders (who we’ll hopefully be writing about in the near future!) and then got ready for the FTPartners event. Stevie and I hung out with my buddy Ryan Sandler from Truework, a couple of his employees, and Steve Sarracino, the CEO of Activant Capital (an early investor in Truework and a great mentor to me.)
The FTPartners event was…so fucking sick. Steve McLaughlin and co. rented out Jewel Nightclub in the Aria Hotel, which was massive. And the FTPartners event was a who’s who in fintech—everywhere I turned I saw a big time CEO or investor. I only got to see Steve for like 1 minute—everyone was trying to get time with the host—but it was good to see him.
The boys and I were trying to get prime seating (or standing room next to the stage) for Post Malone—but…he was a little later than anticipated. To be fair, I have never heard of an artist going on at the time they’re actually scheduled for–at either private parties or festivals, so Stevie and I weren’t too stressed. The DJ that was playing was actually really great—I was also chugging Red Bull’s so I was extremely hyper (yes, I’m like a kid that can’t have too much sugar.)
Before Post Malone went on, there was a great FTPartners sizzle reel that showed just how far fintech has come as an industry, and some opening remarks from Steve himself. Finally, Post Malone went on and he was fucking incredible live. He’s actually an incredible performer and, at one point, whipped out a guitar and did some songs acoustically. (Pictures courtesy of Stevie, who’s a much better photographer than me apparently.)
If you’re getting FOMO, here’s a playlist of his setlist:
(I definitely may have forgotten some tracks, if so please let me know via DM or email!)
Posty ended around 11:30pm, and we made our way to the Synctera party at Tao over at the Palazzo—which was pretty incredible too and a big thanks to Peter Hazlehurst (CEO of Synctera, an old friend of mine and a great dude overall.) We ran into Peter at the FTPartners event just before his, but my friends and I were all glad we made our way to TAO—the party was reallllyyy packed and was an absolutely blast. Funnily enough, we get in and see a familiar face behind the DJ set—my buddy Ben Futoriansky, investor at Cobalt Capital and also a great DJ. We had a blast and after a little while, went over the gamble a bit before bed.
By Tuesday Stevie and I were absolutely wiped. Even though we weren’t drinking, the late nights and constant meetings and moving around had caught up to us. We had a big group dinner with friends at Cipriani at the Wynn and then went to the Activant Capital & Sardine penthouse party for a bit, before calling it a trip.
Since Money 2020 almost everyone has asked me a) how sick was Post Malone b) what my thoughts were on the event.
My honest thoughts? I love Vegas and I love seeing old friends in fintech—I’ve been in the industry for about 10 years so it’s probably the only place you know you can see everyone there. But a part of me is definitely aging out of making fintech’s annual pilgrimage to Vegas. As a new chapter of my life opens, it also means another one has to end. I don’t really drink anymore, I find event planning extremely stressful, and I sort of felt out of place the entire time. Also, as most real community builders know, real networking happens in much more intimate settings. Quality over quantity, always.
Money 2020 is a valuable experience, but it really depends on what your job is. If you’re a young BD person looking to sell B2B SaaS fintech software and boost some sales for the month, it’s a no brainer. If you’re a CEO looking to meet folks, you’re in luck—investors, potential recruits, and partners are all there. But as emerging fund managers, especially ones focused on pre-seed investments, I’m just not sure if Money 2020 is a great fit anymore—our job is to find great operators who are looking to start companies and be the first check in their company, or find LP’s who want to support us and our vision. And frankly, the founders we invest in tend to be much younger—and the newer generation of entrepeneurs in fintech don’t have as much of a desire to schmooze around Las Vegas.
Last year, when I was a CEO and selling sponsorship and ads to other fintech companies, it felt like a much more fruitful and productive trip. But as a GP, I didn’t feel like it was super worth it—if you noticed, we actually didn’t do sort of events from the fund. And as we expand our focus beyond fintech into other regulated sectors, it seems way more worthwhile for us to have a presence at other types of conferences.
Lastly, the one thing I’m trying to be way more mindful of is what I’m doing with my time. This could be a function of being sober all the time and being more conscious of what I’m doing with my time and making sure its productive; or it could be because I’ve been traveling so much I’m way more selfish with my time now. With all the travel I need to do for work now, going to a 4 day party in Vegas sounds more exhausting than fun productive.
So, while it was a blast, this could be the last Money 2020 I go to—by this time next year, we should have a few full time analysts that would find it much more beneficial than I did. That being said, never say never—if Steve brings another 🔥artist or we throw another great party, I might make a quick appearance.