Bitcoin Billboard Wins Tel Aviv Hackathon

Aaron van Wirdum
Mar 17, 2015 at 14:36 UTC
Updated Mar 18, 2015 at 16:30 UTC
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Over 20 hours of hacking at the Decentralize This! hackathon in Tel Aviv has resulted in the creation of bitcoin’s own Million Dollar Homepage – among many other interesting projects.

From Thursday evening until far into Friday afternoon, over 50 programmers spent more than 20 hours brainstorming, conceptualizing and coding at the first Decentralize This! hackathon in the city’s Lool Venture Capital offices.

The event was the biggest bitcoin-related hackathon organized in this growing Middle Eastern bitcoin hub to date, with 14 teams building original bitcoin applications in less than a day’s time – 10 of which made it to the finish line with a functioning product.

Maya Zehavi, who organized the hackathon alongside Reuven Palatnik, hopes the progressive technological atmosphere for which “start-up nation” Israel has made a name during the past decade will continue to gravitate towards the crypto space, and believes the Decentralize This! hackathon could contribute to this process.

“Like many others, we are disillusioned by the financial sector, and tech tools like bitcoin can help us battle this heavily concentrated industry,” Zehavi explained to CoinDesk, adding:

“But in order to do that effectively we need to bring in new users. The aim of this hackathon, therefore, is to create applications that make bitcoin more accessible in a way that attracts these new users.”

With the significant turnout, and a balanced mixture of bitcoin veterans and coders new to the scene, it seems this goal was certainly accomplished.

The judging panel comprised of early-stage investor Gigi Levy-Weiss, BlockTrail’s Ruben de Vries, Lool VC’s Yaniv Golan, VC firm Aleph‘s Eden Shochat, Ernst & Young’s Yoram Tietz and myself.

Innovative offerings

The Israeli hacker community demonstrated its innovative side during the day long hacking event, as the hackathon’s final entries added up to an impressive list of projects, although most of them are of course still at a proof of concept stage given the relatively short time the programmers had to hack them together.

These final projects included a decentralized and provably fair gambling platform, a functional “oracle” for smart contracts built on top of the bitcoin blockchain, a pay-per-second payment channel for video streaming, a personalized wallet app including budgeting software, a decentralized public land registry, a multi layered affiliate coupon marketing scheme, an automated dependency market, a personalized tipping application for content creation on the web, and – as a runner up winning 10,000 nis ($2,500) – a user friendly cold storage solution.

Picked by the judges and the audience as the winner of the grand prize of 20,000 nis ($5,000) provided by the event’s API-provider and main sponsor BlockTrail, was the gimmicky yet potentially effective Blockchain Billboard.

This Blockchain Billboard is essentially a play – or perhaps an improvement – on the Million Dollar Homepage, the 10-year-old Internet phenomenon that sold a million pixels on a webpage for one dollar each, hence collecting (little over) a million US dollars.

hackathon judgingThe judges consider one of the teams’ projects.

As opposed to the Million Dollar Homepage, however, the Blockchain Billboard uses some of bitcoin’s programmable functionality in order to establish a much more dynamic concept.

The webpage, for instance, can never be sold out completely, like the Million Dollar Homepage has been for almost 10 years now. Instead, buyers of pixels won’t merely buy and colour their pixels for one time only, but will instead be able to set a new price for the pixel, hence automatically reselling it to whomever sends bitcoin to the corresponding bitcoin address.

As such, after the initial one million pixels are sold, the website might keep changing forever, since a marketplace for the limited amount of pixels on the webpage will continue to exits.

“This could lead to all sorts of interesting situations,” one of the winning team members, Jonathan Rouache, explained, adding:

“Instead of a static webpage, we might now see battles of the brands plastering their names over each other or perhaps even skewing each others logo’s. Alternatively, you might be able to effectively create animations on the website, or possibly even play weird kinds of games.”

Zehavi said one of the determining factors for the judging panel was the “inherent virality” of the Blockchain Billboard, which might introduce the technology to a whole new set of users.

“We’re happy we were able to bring together such a widespread group of people who are passionate about blockchain technology. We hope to organize another event maybe next year, hopefully there will be even more people, and the concept of decentralized services will be more widespread by then,” she concluded.

The Blockchain Billboard is set to go live later this week.

Images via Rona Zevahi