Block.one, the start-up that has been making headlines around the world after raising more than $4 billion in seed-funding from investors, ran a blockchain-based “Hackathon” challenge in Hong Kong over the weekend.
The event, the first in a “EOS Global Hackathon Series,” challenged developers from around the world to write software applications that had the “potential for massive user adoption.”
The challenge, run on Block.one’s recently launched EOSIO open-source blockchain platform, saw 350 developers form into 90 teams and then work within a 26-hour window to “hack,” or create, a solution.
A team made up of developers from France, the United States and Belarus won the first prize of $100,000 by developing the IDPASS platform that, they say, can offer the world’s one billion undocumented people formal identification that is private, recoverable and fully under their control.
Block.one, that is formally registered in the Cayman Islands but with its main office and strong roots in Hong Kong, describes itself as an open-source software publisher specializing in “high-performance blockchain technologies.”
Block.one’s founders are CEO Brendan Blumer and CTO Dan Larimer, both 30-something Americans tech entrepreneurs. Forbes has reported that Blumer started his first business when he was 14 and relocated to Hong Kong from the States to work as a software developer when he was still teenager. Blumer then went on to create a successful web-based property agency in Hong Kong.
According to the Financial Times, Block.one raised $4.15 billion via a year-long fund raising process that closed at the start of June. If correct, these numbers make this the largest initial coin offering ever.
Block.one’s core product is its EOS software, developed under an open-source Massachusetts Institute of Technology license and launched on June 1, that provides developers a platform to build their own blockchain-based “decentralized applications” or “DAPPs.”
The EOS platform, a form of “decentralized appstore,” allows for the secure development of what Block.one calls “business-grade” DAPPs. This weekend’s Hackathon event – that marked the first time the startup has spoken publicly since its ICO closed – is clearly intended to expand and promote the use of these DAPPs across the EOS platform.
One of the Hackathon judges, Andrew Bliss, who is Block.one’s chief financial officer, said the potential of DAPPs “to change existing centralized models of commerce and communication is exponential … Once we have got a couple of cases launched and running, we will see people all over the world come up with even more ideas to solve local problems that they face at home.”
Another judge, Dr Jane Thomason, the chief executive officer of Blockchain Quantum Impact, said blockchain will find solutions to major social problems that society has been working on for many years. “These decentralized autonomous communities are going to (concentrate upon) major social problems, and I am confident that blockchain is going to help drive major changes in the way we address social issues,” said Thomason.
A member of the winning team, Paul Wehner, added that the IDPASS software tackled the needs of people in remote areas in order to provide them with vital services. “Our aim is to keep building IDPASS as an open-source project and to collaborate with humanitarian agencies to bring healthcare, educational, financial and legal services to the undocumented,” said Wehner.
While some in the crypto and finch communities have questioned what Block.one will do with the billions to has now raised, the Wall Street Journal reported last month that the start-up has pledged to invest more than $1 billion in businesses that chose to use EOS. The WSJ also wrote that once its EOS platform is launched, Block.one will not develop any more software but instead intends to provide the infrastructure that allows others do so. The EOS Global Hackathon would seem to be the first step toward achieving this.
The next leg of the Hackathon will be held in Sydney, Australia, on August 4 and 5, followed by an event in London on September 22 and 23. The top three teams from each Hackathon will then compete in a grand finale to be held at an as-yet undisclosed location.
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