We captured a slice of the atmosphere and energy at last weekend’s event – our biggest to date
Competition, collaboration, creativity – those three Cs were all in abundance at The Village in San Francisco last weekend as a record 475 participants graced the fourth instalment of Block.one’s EOS Global Hackathon series, all vying for the chance to attend our Grand Finale in December. Add in a fourth ingredient – adrenaline – and you have some idea of the event’s unique flavor.
“The EOS community is unlike anything I’ve seen in blockchain,” reflected Rob Behnke, who was part of the first prize-winning team, NouGit. “You can cut the excitement with a knife.”
Another participant, SoHo Token Labs CEO Elissa Shevinsky, commented: “The atmosphere at this hackathon has been really warm and supportive. And that’s been amazing.”
The EOS Global Hackathon is aimed at growing a global community of developers and entrepreneurs building on Block.one’s EOSIO blockchain protocol and amassing an infrastructure that facilitates the mainstream adoption of blockchain technology. As at previous iterations in Hong Kong, Sydney and London, San Francisco drew talent from all geographies and all walks of life, from accomplished programmers to complete novices.
Teams at each event are given 26 hours to develop applications, using the EOSIO codebase, in response to a specific hackathon “challenge” that is announced on the day. In this instance, their projects had to show evidence of a business model in which competitive advantage is gained by better alignment of interests among stakeholders or by driving more value back to users.
“I slept a little, just a little bit, [as] we spent a lot of time to think about the ideas so we can’t afford to be late on the programming,” said Zehao Li, who flew from Beijing for the event. His team, Six Degrees, took third place.
Most hackers showed signs of fatigue as the clock ticked away – but there was enough collective energy to shout the final countdown in unison. And after such a mammoth effort at their screens, some fell asleep at their desks before re-grouping to pitch their ideas and then witness the closing ceremony, where judges chose the winners from ten finalists.
The three winning teams – and a fourth, awarded the prize for Greatest Social Impact – will join 15 other teams at our December 7 finale, in Cape Town.
“Some of the brightest minds in technology right now are working on blockchain solutions and many of them here in EOS, so I don’t know exactly what the future will hold but I’m betting on those people,” said Shevinsky, who had travelled from New York.
Team NouGit beat out 74 others for the US$100,000 first prize with its bounty-based decentralized version of a git repo, a system for tracking and co-ordinating changes to source-code in files and software.
“Many of our teammates have been in the blockchain industry for years and the EOSIO platform really empowers us to innovate and build applications that we believe in,” said Behnke. “NouGit will become the decentralized, incentivized git repo the global developer community has been yearning for. We are beyond excited to continue to be part of growing and learning from the EOS community and ecosystem.”
Team Pollinate took second spot with a proposal for a last-mile package delivery system. Six Degrees, in third, offers a bounty-based program through which people can leverage their personal and professional connections to refer candidates for jobs.
Many participants remarked on the sheer scale of the event, and commended the choice of San Francisco as a location that epitomizes the energy in the sector. “I love that San Francisco is the host city,” said Shevinsky. “There’s just so much going on here.”
“I’m trying to get into blockchain, which is why I came here to network and be around all these beautiful souls,” gushed Terrence Butler, a freelance web developer.
Notwithstanding the cash prizes on offer, many developers present saw the event as an opportunity to have fun and collaborate with members of a growing but still niche community. Technical and entrepreneurial mentors were on hand all night for participants to consult with – and their expertise and staying power were both applauded.
“It was a great learning experience being able to have someone walk you through an error,” said Teddy Brinkofski of a team named Energenius.
Zokir Tiliaev, the New York-based CTO of Lumeos, commented: “One of the problems with the blockchain community is there’s not enough experts, so there’s just not that much help out there. Especially with EOS, it’s such a new technology so finding those experts in one place like we have here at the Hackathon, it’s a rare moment.”
In the end, that spirit of learning and collaboration seemed to win out as teams worked on EOS-based ideas ranging from a decentralized energy exchange that lowers energy costs to a platform that allows individuals on food stamps to use them to shop online. The latter won the EOS_ebt Food Stamps team the Greatest Social Impact award and a cheque for US$3,000.
EOSHub’s Ami Heines, who travelled from Tel Aviv and had previously served as a mentor in London, captured something of the general sentiment when he told Block.one: “I’m really excited about the technology and the potential to benefit humanity. I’m sorry if that sounds cheesy, but I really believe it.”