$1 Million Up for Grabs at Texas Bitcoin Conference Hackathon

Nermin Hajdarbegovic
Mar 4, 2014 at 21:23 UTC
Updated Mar 5, 2014 at 06:45 UTC

The lucky winners of the upcoming Texas Bitcoin Conference Hackathon could walk away with up to $1m thanks to David Johnston, co-founder of BitAngels, a bitcoin-oriented angel investor group.

While it might sound like a very generous gesture on Johnston’s part, he views it as a rather prudent investment instead.

The Hackathon will be held on 5th – 6th March in Austin, Texas, with the CEO taking to reddit to explain his plan in an AMA. There was no shortage of questions – after all, we are talking about a potentially life-changing sum of money.

Kickstarter-style fundraiser

Instead of simply giving the prize money away with no strings attached, Johnston wants to award it to the top four projects that emerge out of the hackathon.

He explained:

“Specifically I expect that the winning projects will hold open Kickstarter-style fundraisers 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.”

Speaking of strings attached, Johnston clearly states that all projects must be open source, have their own token, use a decentralized block chain (preferably the Bitcoin block chain) and feature a consensus mechanism. Full details are available via the official hackathon page.

Johnston points out that he accumulated his wealth by working “100-hour weeks for 10 years” and by investing in bitcoin in the good-old days. He argues that bitcoin has pioneered a new model for developing technology, as outlined in his decentralized applications whitepaper.

What is Johnston looking for?

Johnston says he is interested in projects that use the bitcoin model of a decentralized application, but that don’t compete with the features of bitcoin. He is not interested in altcoins and alternative block chains.

“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.”

“If you came to me with a project and said: ‘This protocol pays people Storage Coins to contribute their extra hard drive space to the cloud and we have a cool Proof of Storage mechanism and its all open source and we store the records in the Bitcoin block chain,’ then I’d be highly interested,” he explains.

Johnston points out that it’s all about the difference between simply accepting bitcoins and building something new using bitcoin technology.

He says he expects a billion people to be using bitcoin in the next five years, but he adds that most of them simply won’t know it anymore than billions of people that use HTTP on a daily basis do.

Judging by the AMA, Johnston isn’t your run-of-the-mill angel investor: he comes across as a real enthusiast committed to the development of bitcoin.

He says he is looking forward to the launch of the Master Protocol Distributed Exchange, watching developments at Bitshares, writing an analysis of Ethereum for BitAngels, talking to the Dark Wallet team and just keeping track of digital currency developments as they happen.