Utilizing the template from Hack the North, organizers, judges and more than 400 developers and coders from around the world pushed the boundaries of blockchain technology over the weekend and then put a wrap on ETHWaterloo, billed as the world’s largest-to-date Ethereum hackathon.

Eight teams emerged as co-finalists at the 36-hour event, which took place at Shopify and CIGI, the Centre for International Governance Innovation. It attracted some of the biggest names in the rapidly emerging Ethereum sphere, including Russian-Canadian and former University of Waterloo student Vitalik Buterin and Canadian Joseph Lubin, who are credited with being two of the co-founders of the Ethereum concept.

“I’m very happy,” said the ETHWaterloo co-founder, Liam Horne, a former Buterin classmate at University of Waterloo who also is a co-founder of Hack the North, the annual student hackathon held at UW, the latest edition of which took place last month.

“We took the playbook from Hack the North, the community around Ethereum and community of Waterloo (Region) and pushed them all together and created what so far has turned out to be the greatest Ethereum developer event that I’ve ever seen,” said Horne.

“It’s been a dream come true, to be honest. I hope that it has a good impact on the future of the community.”

Indications are that it has done just that. Buterin, who delivered the event’s keynote address, said he was impressed with the event precisely because it combined traditional marathon sessions writing code with a number of workshops and discussions about Ethereum, including “How Decentralized Applications Will Impact Our Society.”

“I came here because it was advertised as the biggest thing in the world of this nature,” said 28-year-old Josh Kelly of Toronto. “Vitalik was certainly a draw. But I think it has been incredible, as far as hackathons go, in terms of how well it was organized. Just the amount of excitement in the region is really positive.”

Kelly combined forces over the weekend with two others hackers, Abhinav Rastogi from Calgary and York University student Max Mikhayloe, to develop a censorship-resistant version of Twitter.

“It only runs on the Ethereum blockchain and doesn’t require any central authority or any servers whatsoever,” said Kelly.

The decentralized nature of Ethereum, and blockchain, is precisely the key to the buzz being generated around the technology. An article by Wired magazine last year said Ethereum has become “a rallying cry for a whole army of developers, whose involvement in the space amounts to a technological crusade for increased access, transparency, and accountability – all of which are fundamental features of any open, decentralized blockchain architecture.

“Their goal is to create a new economy in which anyone can participate on their own terms.”

The eight finalists Sunday made brief on-stage presentations of their projects. They included teams called: Pocket, TrustUs, Happy ENS, Third Eye, Rufflet, MetaMask Brave Integration, Provt and Congruence.

Asked if the event will take place again next year, Horne said he “has bigger visions.

I’ve had multiple people from Brazil, Berlin, Denver, New York and San Francisco, that have said [they have] a bunch of people who want to come to a similar event in those cities. I’m happy to share the playbook and hopefully we can make it a global thing.”

About The Author

Craig Daniels
Senior Journalist

Craig Daniels is a veteran reporter, columnist and editor who has joined Communitech’s editorial team as senior journalist. He worked most recently at Postmedia in Hamilton, where he led the team that produced the National Post, and before that at the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Sun, Financial Post, the Montreal Daily News and the Telegraph-Journal in Saint John, N.B. He has an abiding interest in the transformational power and promise of tech and startup ecosystems, is a commercially licensed pilot, and has a debilitating wrist-watch fetish.