Features | From Pivot Magazine

The crypto king

Fifteen years ago, he worked for the family business manufacturing patio doors. Today, he’s a cryptocurrency tycoon who’s gate-crashed his way to the top of Canadian business. He says blockchain will revolutionize the way we live. Can Anthony Diiorio really know the future?

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Anthony DiiorioAnthony Diiorio sees virtual currencies as the linchpin of a revolution that will transform the way we live. (Nathan Cyprys) 

Anthony Diiorio is stopping for a selfie with an eager fan. He’s surrounded by them—young men in hip-hop baseball caps or ascots with slicked-back hair—and shadowing him is a bodyguard with an earpiece. His acolytes ask him for jobs, or about mysterious things called ICOs and atomic swaps, or seek out other arcane cryptocurrency investment tips Diiorio refuses to give. They crane their necks anyway to catch his every word.  

Now and then he stops for another picture.  

“Taking photos right now,” the bodyguard says into his hand.  

Diiorio moves through it all as though through mild weather. He wears his uniform: blue jeans, $600 Common Projects white sneakers, a white V-neck T-shirt and a blue ball cap unadorned by logo or affiliation. He’s about to address a crowd of 8,500 at the Real Estate Wealth Expo, a kitsch event at a downtown Toronto convention centre for folks seeking to make it rich. Later, Sylvester Stallone will deliver a “Knockout Strategies” keynote, the Miami rapper Pitbull will perform in leather amid spandexed dancers, and Alex “A-Rod” Rodriguez will tout the wisdom of hiring PhDs—“poor, hungry and driven.” Geared to traditional bricks-and-mortar  enrichment—“Funding and Flipping,” “Love It or List It”—this isn’t Diiorio’s scene. 

Or is it? 

He’s certainly come a long way fast. Fifteen years ago, Diiorio was working for the family business in Toronto’s north end manufacturing sliding patio doors. Today, at 43, he’s practically Canada’s poster boy for instant wealth, a crypto billionaire—perhaps worth a little less now that the markets have ebbed—and a co-founder of Bitcoin’s main rival, Ethereum. In February, Forbes magazine put him on a “Prophets of Boom” list featuring 19 of the world’s richest crypto players. He’s one of the most mercurial figures to gate-crash his way to the top of Canadian business—a political nonconformist and a self-exile from the real estate market—a textbook crypto character, right down to his flair for self-promotion. 

Diiorio’s global ambition is to bring cryptocurrencies to the masses. To do it, his company, Decentral Inc., has developed a cryptocurrency “wallet” called Jaxx, which brings into tangible focus what can otherwise seem awfully abstract.  In essence, the sleek smartphone app lets users hold and manage a laundry list of virtual currencies, from Bitcoin and Ether to lesser known or more niche tokens like Iconomi and Gnosis. 

Diiorio’s vision is to bring crypto to the masses. he compares this moment to the down of the Internet. “We empower people to own the keys to their lives.”

Diiorio sees virtual currencies as the linchpin of a revolution that will transform the way we live. If the arrival of crypto is like the dawn of the Internet, he says, then Jaxx is like an early browser—think Netscape—that helped lead to the explosion of online life. To Diiorio and his fellow enthusiasts, the future of money is virtual, eliminating the need for third parties and central authorities—governments, banks, law firms and so on—in financial transactions, legal agreements, land purchases, investments and everyday purchases (imagine one day reading a magazine article like this one, for a small fee collected automatically and invisibly from your device). To anyone in traditional business, such a change is unfathomable. To Diiorio, it’s inevitable.

The core virtue of “crypto”—a common shorthand for virtual currencies—may lie in its ability to safeguard user identity: we could be entering an age in which cryptographic signatures render passwords, bank account and SIN numbers, and other sensitive, cumbersome elements of online life, nearly obsolete. Crypto may even give us a bulwark against such monolithic Internet players as Facebook and Google, which today make money based on what they know about us. Diiorio’s crypto wallet, Jaxx, for example—unlike some others—lets users manage their virtual holdings without the participation or oversight of a coordinating server: no bank, no PayPal, no nothing. Not even Jaxx itself knows who you are. “I don’t want user information. I don’t want to hold people’s money,” Diiorio says. “I don’t want it because then we’re a central system that needs protection.” 

That revolutionary message, and the brain-punishing complexity of the system that undergirds it, make this an opaque world. When Diiorio, a small man with sharp elfin features and almond eyes that he often hides under blue-tinted glasses, arrives onstage at the Wealth Expo to talk about the “hot world of crypto,” the problem is immediately put to him: “Explain it to me like I’m five,” someone asks. Diiorio gazes at the crowd: “I go 1,200 years back,” he says. “To the start of money and to cowrie shells.” 

Decentral's Toronto headquartersDecentral’s Toronto headquarters.(Nathan Cyprus)

Bitcoin first arrived a decade ago as an idea for a “peertopeer electronic cash system,” a reaction, in part, to the global financial crisis.

A Bitcoin is a unit of digital currency that exists only online. It is not governed by any central authority, such as the Bank of Canada, and like the computer operating system Linux, it is not owned or run by any one person or entity. Rather, it’s a kind of “open source” community project that, at bottom, lets people send each other money in much the same way that we send and receive email.

Bitcoin is the best known of about 1,600 virtual currencies. They all depend on a thorough accounting of who owns what— I have five Bitcoins, you have seven—and the databases where this information is recorded and stored are called blockchains.

Every 10 minutes or so, the Bitcoin system creates a new “block” that contains all the Bitcoin transactions that have taken place since the last block, and adds this new block to the chain. Say, for example, that of my five Bitcoins I send you two, so that your holdings now total nine, mine three: that movement of coins will be reflected in the blockchain ledger.

Like an infinitely complex game of dominoes, each block in the chain is encoded with cryptographic information linking it to the preceding block, as well as information that will marry it to the block to come. This locks the data into an incorruptible and immutable sequence. The blocks and the ledger they maintain are also jointly held and agreed upon by a vast network of computers located around the world, giving the system an elasticity and durability that protects it from tampering, disruption or censorship.

Binding the system together is the incentive of mining. Each new block on the chain contains inside it a simple but labour-intensive mathematical problem—say, for example, to find a prime number with 10 consecutive zeroes in it—that computers around the world compete to solve. The computer that wins the race gets to add the next block to the chain, and for its trouble is awarded an amount of Bitcoin—12.5 Bitcoins, or almost $124,000, as of now. (Each crypto system maintains its own blockchain, and it’s here the systems differ; Ethereum, for example, produces blocks every 10 to 20 seconds.) These contests ensure no outside agency can anticipate where the next link in the chain will appear and so alter the system.

Much of the excitement around crypto today centres on Ethereum, where as an early investor, Diiorio made a lot of his money.

Crypto isn’t cash—try buying milk down at the corner with it—but it’s an established store of value, and some vendors (among them Microsoft’s app stores and the travel website Expedia) already take Bitcoin. At this point, individuals who seek to secure virtual currencies mostly do so by buying them, at exchanges like Coinbase in the U.S. and Coinsquare in Canada, much as we buy and sell stocks. They keep their holdings either in their exchange accounts, or in digital wallets like Jaxx, Diiorio’s main product. These wallets therefore provide a point of contact between people and their virtual savings, just like a Gmail account gives you a place to park and peruse your email. Diiorio’s aspirations for Jaxx make him part of the race to push virtual currencies into ubiquity.

Much of the excitement around crypto today centres on Ethereum, where as an early investor, Diiorio made a lot of his money. While Bitcoin is remarkably good at financial transactions, Ethereum, first proposed in 2013, boasts a rich programming language that may make possible a wider array of applications. The enthusiasm is spreading.

Slow to warm to the idea of virtual currency, the establishment now appears ready to jump in. The Bank of Canada began looking at Ethereum as a way to settle large transactions between financial institutions in 2016. Early this year, TMX Group Ltd. said it would launch a digital platform to help bridge the gap between legacy financial players and newfangled crypto. And in May, reports suggested that both Goldman Sachs and the New York Stock Exchange were preparing themselves for high-stakes Bitcoin trading.

Crypto won’t leave the old guard unscathed, Diiorio says, and its revolution will spread through the business world, even into politics. “Democracy is a bunch of people telling other people what to do,” he says. “Technology’s going to provide new ways of governance, new ways of removing fraud from voting. I’m all for personal liberty. You should be able to do whatever you want as long as you’re not targeting anybody.”

Anthony Diiorio with an event specialist Diiorio (left) with an event specialist. (Nathan Cyprus)

That’s highfalutin talk, but so far much of the fuel that’s propelled crypto has been the trade in contraband—the Silk Road, a now defunct “dark web” marketplace for drugs and almost anything else, was an early Bitcoin bonanza—as well as currency speculation. Like all new frontiers, this one attracts innovators and free thinkers, but also charlatans, hype merchants and snake oil salesmen. Often these operators are all these things wrapped into one.

Already in his 30s when he found Bitcoin, Diiorio straddles old and new. He’s every bit as complex as the world that’s made him rich.

And crypto has made him unimaginably rich. If his holdings are largely virtual, his lifestyle is an illustration of how the digital increasingly bleeds into the world of material things. Diiorio says he has purchased the top three floors of the Adelaide Hotel Toronto—formerly the Trump International Hotel and Tower—and he describes plans to connect these suites up into one vast condominium unit totalling 16,000 square feet, which he says would make it the largest condo in Canada. Until then he lives in a minimalist 7,500-square-foot downtown condo in which a south-facing window doubles as one side of an infinity swimming pool: a giant aquarium for people.

Diiorio has taken to wearing a mechanical clock pendant given to him by his friend Brock Pierce, a former Hollywood child star–cum–crypto tycoon who wears a poncho and wants to build a crypto city in Puerto Rico called “Puertopia,” sustained by virtual money.

Often, when Diiorio speaks, one is left with the impression he can engage with interlocutors only through marketing jargon. “We build tools for the masses,” he says, poring over a flow chart listing 20 of the more than 100 companies partnering with Jaxx. “We empower people to own the keys to their lives as everything turns more digital.”

The Decentral offices are located near his condo, in a large open block that’s all polished cement and maddening acoustics. As a staffer prepared to leave for the day, Diiorio encouraged him to check out the Aston Martin parked below, one of two he’d had redone in Ethereum and Bitcoin colours to give away at Decentral’s relaunch of Jaxx in New York.

But the update Diiorio was so eager to unveil—a one-stop- shop app for all things crypto called Jaxx Liberty—wasn’t ready. The developers racing to perfect it were hunched over keyboards, in the offices, but elsewhere in the world, too. His remote employees interact with Toronto staff thanks to a fleet of “telepresence” robots—essentially iPads mounted to adjustable giraffe necks rolling around on Segway-like wheels.

“Nice meeting you!” the full stack developer Alexandru Culea recently told someone from Bucharest, Romania, where it was already 11:30 p.m. (Diiorio asks staff located abroad, many of whom are customer support people, to keep Toronto time). Staffers say the robots are noisy and too often bump into things.

In the early 2000s, he was an electronic dance music DJ who also devised, using state-of-the-art software, artificial CGI landscapes that he printed on canvas and sold for $500 on eBay.

Recently, on a trip in his Cadillac Escalade to visit his parents at his childhood home in Richmond Hill, Ont.—along with his bodyguard and a driver—Diiorio pondered his evolution. He grew up in affluence, the youngest of three, in a palatial house built by his father, Lino, who ran a construction firm alongside his work with the family patio door business. Diiorio was an avid hockey and soccer player who also went to computer camp, and he says he started building computers at the age of eight. Later, he half-heartedly pursued a business degree at Ryerson University. “My parents’ term was ‘cavalier’—I was very cavalier,” he says.

While he was still in his early 20s, Diiorio and his older brother, Elio, briefly ran a web design company, creating an e-commerce site for the curling equipment business that Lino and their mother, Lynne, launched in 1996. (Lino has several curling patents, and many Olympic curlers have medalled wearing the sliders he designed.)

Rather than as a tech prodigy, Diiorio is probably best understood as an early adopter and as a scenester with a knack for enterprise. In the early 2000s, he was an electronic dance music DJ who also devised, using state-of-the-art software, artificial CGI landscapes that he printed on canvas and sold for $500 on eBay. He took a marketing job at a catalytic converter company, then ran the install teams at a cousin’s cornice moulding company. For a time he did grunt work at Sunview Patio Doors, the family firm. In 2005, he bought his first property, a big house near York University that he cut into units, moving into one and renting the rest to students. That was followed by a string of acquisitions, making Diiorio a landlord and a property manager.

After the family sold the patio door firm, in 2008, his father offered to set him up in a field of his choice. Diiorio, excited by green technology, shipped a million-dollar drill over from Italy and got into geothermal drilling. Here he found himself in competition for drill operators with the still-booming Alberta oil sands, and the men proved hard to manage. Little pointed to his future success, or to his pioneering a potentially world-changing technology. Soon, he was suffering from depression. “It was a rough time,” he says. “I was a bit lost.”

Anthony Diiorio with a event specialistIn the early 2000s, Diiorio was an electronic dance music DJ. (Nathan Cyprus)

He was also increasingly under the spell of his brother Elio’s contrarian views on money. A one-term Richmond Hill local councillor, Elio had become convinced of the insubstantiality of government-issued, or “fiat,” currency. By 2007, he was conducting research into the question of money full time—a two-year odyssey that saw him combing through archives and the Law Society of Upper Canada library. “I came to the conclusion,” Elio says, “that fiat money is essentially legalized fraud.”

To test his findings, Elio says he deliberately provoked TD Bank into taking him to court, where he could present his ideas before a judge. He did this by attempting to pay a debt of more than $170,000 that he held with TD by writing the words “consumer purchase” on a piece of paper and then, citing lesser known passages from the Bills of Exchange Act, arguing TD could present it to the Bank of Canada, which would then use it to issue currency in the amount he owed. “The way I suspected they were creating money was by taking someone’s signed agreement to pay a debt and using that as the asset to create the funds,” he says. “If banks can create money based on a signature—why can’t I?”

Elio tried to buy a car and pay a lawyer this same way. He lost in court in 2010, and failed in an attempt to appeal the next year.

The gambit may sound outlandish (“fine, maybe it is,” Elio says), but it played a key role in Diiorio’s discovery of crypto- currencies, and highlights a skepticism of the status quo that’s characteristic both of Diiorio’s approach and of crypto in general. “My brother got me thinking about the system—banking and money and government—and how things used to be backed by gold, or how people used to use seashells or feathers, to where we are now,” he says.

Differences in his world are common, and passions run high. Since leaving Ethereum, Diiorio has worked alone. “I learned to avoid having partners, and even taking people’s money.”

Diiorio’s distrust of the way things are had intensified after the 2008 U.S. housing crash. Convinced Canada’s real estate market was next, he sold everything and moved into an apartment his parents kept in his childhood home. Rudderless yet flush from the sale of his properties, he started listening to hours of podcasts every day. He became enthralled by Peter Schiff, the maverick banker whose YouTube anthology of TV appearances prior to the U.S. credit crisis, in which his warnings of disaster prompt laughter and derision, is called “Peter Schiff Was Right.” Under his influence, Diiorio bought $100,000 in gold and silver—and quickly lost $20,000.

Nevertheless, Schiff ’s libertarianism struck a chord. Like many in crypto, Diiorio has a penchant for Austrian school economics, and he likes to name-check Ayn Rand. He typed “freedom podcast” into Google and found Free Talk Live, a daily, two-hour libertarian anarchist call-in show, and began listening obsessively. It was there, in mid-2012, that he first learned of Bitcoin. He made his first investment in the virtual currency that very day—buying one Bitcoin for $9.73.

“I wasn’t sleeping,” says Diiorio. “I’d be up all night, reading, learning, understanding, devouring the forums.”

The promise of operating without banks or with less government oversight captured Diiorio’s imagination. Eager to build a crypto community in Toronto, he began advertising a gathering of enthusiasts on meetup.com, and held the group’s first meeting in November 2012 at Pauper’s Pub, where he’d already attended libertarian gatherings.

The event drew just a handful of people. But among them was Vitalik Buterin, a University of Waterloo computer science student who had been born in Russia and raised in Toronto. Only 18, he was already a co-founder of Bitcoin Magazine. Shy, ill at ease, he had almost nothing to say. A year later, he’d propose Ethereum, a blockchain system that allows programmability in the form of self-executing “smart contracts.” It would make many—Diiorio among them—very rich.

At about this time, Diiorio was working with a New Jersey–based developer he’d met through Reddit to launch Satoshi Circle, a graphical Bitcoin gambling site with a roulette theme. Diiorio says the project cost a few thousand dollars to set up and that he and his partner made their money back in a day.

With his new wealth, Diiorio was in a position to help fund Buterin and his collaborator’s work on Ethereum, making him one of eight founders. 

In 2013, Diiorio sold the site for 1,200 Bitcoins. Added to his earlier investment, this gave him Bitcoin holdings totalling 3,000—at the time equivalent to $300,000. Then, just as quickly, Bitcoin’s value soared, to $1,200. Suddenly, Diiorio was sitting on the equivalent of $3.6 million. Soon, he was executive director of the Bitcoin Alliance of Canada, a lobbying and advocacy group he’d helped establish, and began to travel the world delivering the gospel as a cryptocurrency evangelist. His offices, then on Spadina Avenue, became home to an early Bitcoin ATM—with it you could buy Bitcoin for cash and vice versa—and a distinctive orange sign out front heralded the coming new age.

Around the same time Buterin began circulating a white paper describing his ideas for Ethereum. Michael Perklin, then a digital forensic investigator in Toronto and an early member of the city’s crypto scene, remembers the excitement when Buterin shared the proposal.

“It represented a new way of building a blockchain,” says Perklin. “Rather than shoehorning additional functionality into a machine that could do only one thing”—Bitcoin, designed solely for financial transfers—“Vitalik was saying, ‘Scrap it all, let’s build a brand new technology you can reprogram on the fly.’ ” For the techies involved in the scene, this was a revelation, says Perklin. “Other people who happened to be there saw the excitement and had dollar signs in their eyes and thought, ‘Let me see how I can pretend I’m involved.’ ”

With his new wealth, Diiorio was in a position to help fund Buterin and his collaborator’s work on Ethereum, making him one of eight founders of a system that now boasts a market cap of $78 billion (down from $165 billion in January thanks to yet more volatility in a sector that has so far been defined by it).

Buterin and the team backing him assembled at a rented house in Miami in January 2014, ahead of the North American Bitcoin Conference there. “I felt like I was in the garage with Bill Gates and Steve Jobs,” says Gianni D’Alerta, who first met Diiorio there, and is now director of marketing and branding at Decentral. “There were people coding in the closets, people outside debating protocols—it was really exciting to witness.” Within months, Diiorio and the other Ethereum founders crowdsourced US$18 million in Bitcoin by mounting an “initial coin offering,” or ICO, of its Ether token—up until then the largest ICO ever.

That excitement quickly turned to upheaval. Differences within the crypto community are common, and passions run high over minute details incomprehensible to the rest of us. This was different: Ethereum’s future was at stake, with the founders battling over whether they should go forward on a not-for-profit or a for-profit basis. Diiorio favoured the latter. But at a meeting in Switzerland, where the Ethereum Foundation is now based, Buterin’s preferred not-for-profit model won out (despite his riches, Buterin is known for a kind of techno-asceticism). Diiorio has worked alone ever since. “I learned to avoid having partners,” he says, “and even taking people’s money.”

Diiorio is a controversial figure in the crypto sphere, associated by his more technically minded, skeptical peers with hype and inflated token prices.

Today crypto is a Diiorio family business. Anthony’s brother Elio is a co-founder of Musiconomi, a music platform that aims to run on the blockchain. Their sister, Christie Harkin, is managing editor of Bitcoin Magazine. Their parents are crypto investors. Elio likes to say his grandmother’s side of the family, the Di Salvo clan, has long been associated with invent ion in Italy, where they were known as the ingeniosi—the “ ingenious” (nomenclature is important to t he family, and Anthony spells his name Diiorio to avoid the sans-serif confusion between capital “I” and lower-case “L”). Hark in says it’s this trait—a knack for conceiving the new—that ’s behind her brother’s success.

“It’s not new ways of doing old things,” Harkin says. “You have to have new ways of doing new things—and if you don’t have that creative side, you can’t imagine the future before you build it.”

But Diiorio is a controversial figure in the crypto sphere, associated by his more technically minded, skeptical peers with hype and inflated token prices. He appears always on the move, and is often called a “serial entrepreneur.” He was even briefly chief digital officer at the Toronto Stock Exchange but left after eight months to focus on his own business. Jaxx, Diiorio’s main focus, makes money by collecting fees from partners who want space on the platform, and by charging them for the transactions Jaxx facilitates.

ShapeShift, for example, an instant digital asset exchange that lets users convert virtual currencies from one token to another, moved a billion dollars’ worth of volume through Jaxx last year, Diiorio says. (Also last year, the Cointelegraph news site reported that a “vulnerability” in the Jaxx wallet led to the pilfering of some US$400,000 worth of crypto; in an interview, Diiorio blamed customers who improperly stored their devices.)

Even as he works to perfect Jaxx, which he says has amassed a million active users, Diiorio appears conscious of the possibility he’s already peaked, and eager to demonstrate he’s got ideas of his own. “I like to say the biggest thing I’ve done so far was Ethereum,” he says. “Now Decentral—I think—will be the bigger thing.”

And the future? At his offices in downtown Toronto, Diiorio described a recent visit by representatives from Sidewalk Toronto, a proposal by Google sister company Sidewalk Labs to build a “smart city” district on Toronto’s waterfront from “the Internet up.” Like Google’s other enterprises, the Sidewalk plans have prompted concern about personal data and privacy—concern that’s only grown since Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal. “They wanted to meet up with us because they’re trying to figure out how they can do decentralized identity systems,” says Diiorio. “That’s what we do—there’s a lot of people looking at our model of not collecting user information.”

It’s a technology that upends the business model of those Internet giants who make money by supplying an excellent service for free and selling to third parties what they learn about us when we use it. “I’ve seen where this is heading since 2013 and we’ve been preparing, planning, getting infrastructure built up,” says Diiorio. “Eventually I think those models are going to disappear.”

Video killed the radio star, then Facebook and Google the newspaper, now Facebook and Google and Airbnb could be next.

To listen to enthusiasts like Diiorio is to glimpse a future where gatekeepers vanish—a world of self-executing wills and robot insurance policies, instant, broker-free real estate transactions, and music platforms that will see artists get automated, fair and transparent payment for play. Diiorio describes a time when floodwaters trigger policy payouts without an adjuster’s visit, and when the authenticity of your Louis Vuitton handbag is guaranteed by physical chips locked into the blockchain—same goes for medicine, spirits and purebred animals.

Imagine a short-term lodging marketplace like Airbnb that’s truly peer-to-peer, without a central platform that seeks a cut of what the hosts charge guests, and in which the legal contracts governing transactions are built right into the blockchain. Such a system would likely be cheaper to run and cheaper to use. Or better yet, imagine buying a ticket to Hamilton directly from the theatre—without the requirement of dealing with Ticketmaster. In that case you’d know your money would, as per the terms of a self-executing contract, automatically get split up and routed to LinManuel Miranda, his performers, costumers, crew, etc.

Video killed the radio star, then Facebook and Google the newspaper, now Facebook and Google and Airbnb could be next. The revolving door of what works and what doesn’t spins now at a remarkable rate. So do the relationships that form and give rise to the next big thing. If Diiorio has a talent for anything, it may be in connecting people. But by his own admission, he hasn’t been in touch with Buterin for a while. Vitalik’s father, Dmitry, a computer scientist who’s also involved in the crypto scene, makes no secret of his feelings about Diiorio: “My personal biased sentiment,” he wrote on Twitter in November, “based on what I know, I would not touch any project that Anthony DiIorio is involved in, with a ten foot pole.” (Dmitry declined to comment; Vitalik couldn’t be reached.)

So what’s that all about?

“No idea, and I don’t really care,” Diiorio says. “He makes the claim that I’m not a founder for some reason, too.”

Instead Diiorio says he’s on to the next thing: the next enterprise in the serial, the next block in the chain, the next selfie at the next get-rich-quick event—wherever change brings him.

On May 16, it led him aboard the 210-foot party yacht Cornucopia Majesty, in New York Harbour, headed out to the Statue of Liberty. There he addressed the thousand-strong crowd assembled for his Decentral event. He started with a promotional video in which a computer-simulated Diiorio avatar, wearing Diiorio’s jeans-and-white-sneaker uniform, outlined Jaxx’s new features. Computer-simulated Diiorio was in the company of a chirping, diminutive CGI penguin who jumped onto his back and turned into a jetpack blasting him into the future. In real life, the revellers below him on the yacht wore Diiorio’s white electronic wristbands, programmed to flash in synchronicity to the beat of a trance DJ’s deafening output and, at the end of the night, to reveal the winners of those two crypto-themed Aston Martins.

“Let’s just kick this up right, guys,” Diiorio said in the mic as the trance beat clicked into motion.

It was dark amid the seagoing nightclub atmosphere, but he was wearing his blue-tinted glasses. With or without change, Diiorio was still a scenester.