It sounds like a programmer’s dream: The Texas Bitcoin Conference Hackathon is currently offering up over $1 million in prizes and contracts for its Bitcoin 2.0 contest. The idea is to build the next generation of decentralized applications and protocols to push Bitcoin into the future. As with many seemingly great ideas, however, the devil is in the details.
Speaking on a Reddit AMA, BitAngel co-founder David Johnston explained that it’s not quite the giveaway it sounds like.
[It’s] not a give away, it’s an investment into the Bitcoin eco-system into the top four projects that come out of the Hackathon. Specifically I expect that the winning projects will hold open Kickstarter style funds raisers after they get a little further down the road and I’ll commit to contributing at least $250,000 to each of their kickstarter efforts.
The Hackathon homepage notes that prizes and contracts are offered by the “Mastercoin Foundation, Open-Transactions (Monetas), Ethereum, BitAngels, Ripple and others,” but the bulk of the prize money itself seems to come directly in the form of Johnston’s commitment. Other contracts “will be awarded at the discretion of the sponsors for those awards.” In other words, the net result of the hackathon could be more than the $1 million promised, but there are no promises.
Johnston doesn’t seem to be looking for anything flashy, but rather something that practically contributes to the technology.
Let me give an example of what I am interested in. If you came to me with a project and said: ‘It’s basically Dropbox, but people can pay in bitcoins,’ I would have no interest because one day soon Dropbox will start taking BTC and your advantage disappears. … I’m investing a million bucks because I believe whole heartedly that Bitcoin has pioneered a new model for developing technology. … In 5 years I expect a billion people to be using Bitcoin. Most of them won’t even know it. Anymore than billions of people understand they are using HTTP on a daily basis.
The Hackathon ends tomorrow, and we’ll be following up with any news of innovative or groundbreaking developments that take place there.