Budget Category: Hackathons, Conferences, Meetups

Proposal Kickoff: November 1st, 2020
Budget Amount: 20,000,000 SC per month, from block subsidy
Treasury Kickoff: 240,000,000 SC, from treasury
Timeline: Active until Jan. 2023
Stockpile Cap: 960,000,000 SC
Leftovers: to be returned to treasury

This proposal is to set aside a significant chunk of Siacoins as a budget item for hackathons, conferences, and meetups. Any sort of builder event or bounty program would also come out of this budget. Marketing for said events would also come out of this budget. As a two year proposal with a large initial stockpile, this proposal is for 960,000,000 SC total.

I expect that roughly half of this would go towards funding an annual on-site conference for Sia, roughly a quarter of this would go towards hackathons, and then the remaining quarter would be to fund meetups and local Sia communities.

Given that large in-person meetups and conferences will likely not be feasible for at least another 6-12 months I think it would make more sense to allocate much less of the kickoff and move that into the Marketing or Development funds. 20MS/mo alone funds a lot of hackathons and e-conferences.

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60 grand a month for hackathons… well that would be quite a lot. I agree with Nate on that the Kickoff isn’t really beneficiary at the start due to the lack of viability for in person conferences. I’m good with the stockpile.

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I love the idea of large prizes for hackathons. I view it as a serious way to drum up interest in developing the project/on top of the project. This increased exposure will also act as a recruitment tool.

We talked to some firms about running an in-person conference back in 2018. The quotes came back at several hundred thousand dollars. Ticket sales help to offset this a bit, but if you want to do things like make the conference free for students, a conference can run at a hefty loss. Especially for your first few times, because you aren’t that established yet and people won’t be willing to pay a high ticket price.

Even if we assume the first in-person conference is 18 months away, building up to a large sum to host it could take a long time, especially if we keep putting large amounts towards hackathons.

Personally, I would not like to see more hackathons. Like bounties, I think hackathons are a great way to drum up a lot of short term interest, but very few maintainers actually stick around once the hackathon is over.

I think for long term success marketing, meetups, more partnerships, and building up existing partnerships like Skynet, StoreWise, FileBase, and Arzen will be the most successful way forward. A 2MS hackathon every 3 months is plenty IMO.

If the initial kickoff is reduced to 100MS + 20MS/mo then you have a treasury that can throw an on-site conference immediately once it is feasible and a monthly budget that should be enough to grow that treasury and throw a conference annually. Moving the extra 140MS to marketing and/or development will be better for immediate usage.

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I would disagree and say that to-date, hackathons have provided very high ROI in terms of community growth, both for the number of users and for the number of long term viable apps. It also appears that hackathon developers are significantly more likely to stick around after a hackathon, and the hackathons give us a ton of both ideas and marketing juice for the network.

Having been at the head of the project for 6 years, I can assert that the hackathons are working better than any other growth spend we’ve made in the past, and until we have proof that other spend is working better, I think we should keep beating the hackathon drum. Especially when every single hackathon has such a broad range of new ideas and such a large number of new faces.

Regarding the 100 MS for a conference, conferences need to be paid for up front, because ticket sales typically don’t come in until the final few days before the conference. I’ve been close to the organizers for the MIT Bitcoin Expo several years running, and it’s always a nail-biting mystery whether the expo is going to break even, eat a massive loss, or come out way ahead. The Bitcoin Expo has done all three in various years.

I don’t believe that 100 MS is enough to organize a conference unless the price of Siacoin goes way up.

I would never argue that hackathons are not a useful and fun tool for growth, just that more is not necessarily better. Even a 5MS hackathon every month can be entirely covered by the monthly subsidy alone.

I don’t personally like hackathons because they encourage short sighted decisions for speed over long term maintainability. Some amazing projects and ideas come out of hackathons, but so does a lot bs.

Can you elaborate what other growth avenues Sia has tried in the past that you feel did not work?

That’s true 100MS may not be enough for a well marketed conference. I have never personally tried to set up a large event like that.

So if the nearest time for a conference is 6 months away:

  • 100MS (~250K USD)
  • + 10MS/mo (~30K USD) * 6 months (subtracting 10MS for a monthly hackathon)
  • = 160MS (>400K USD)

Erring on the side of too much is probably better, but if that money could have been reasonably allocated elsewhere for immediately available growth avenues I think it’s reasonable to say that it should be.

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What happens if there is a significant dip in the siacoin price? Will we want to forgo the conference because we already put a significant amount of budget elsewhere, and need time again to build up the treasury?

I feel like having at least one conference as soon as the pandemic situation has resolved would be highly beneficial for Sia, and that we should be conservative about our assumptions of the Siacoin price between now and 6-12 months from now.

I do think $400k-$500k USD is the right amount of capital. Through sponsorships and conference ticket prices, I think most of that will be recovered, but a significant chunk of capital is needed up-front because you don’t get a lot of your conference revenue until the weeks immediately prior.

While I do like the idea of separate budgets, perhaps there could be some ebb and flow from the marketing-specific budget with the Hack/Conf/Meets budget. They work towards the same goal and I imagine the Marketing Director will participate heavily in the organizing, planning, and increasing awareness of Hack/Conf/Meets.

If this idea is pursued, I would consider increasing the actually Marketing stockpile so it can help in case of that rainy day.

I think keeping a specific yearly conference budget is essential to ensuring it has the necessary funding every year.

Moving hackathons/meetups/bounties under marketing’s budget could make sense though.

If I understand correctly, you are suggesting that we split out the conference budget item into its own full category, with a separate stockpile?

I could see that being a good thing to do. I was trying to keep the total number of categories to a minimum, but it really does seem to be a separate beast. Especially if conferences generally recuperate most of their expenses each year, that’s not going to be true for Hackathons and Meetups.

Essentially, yes. Split out the conference into its own category with an initial kickoff and subsidy. Move hackathons/meetups/bounties into Marketing or a separate category since they will be relatively short turn around not significant long term plans.

Going to wait for more replies in regards to that suggestion, but my initial thought is that it’s probably okay to move hackathons and meetups into the general marketing budget, and keep conferences in a wholly separate budget

Seemingly could earmark money within a budget but how would that be different than making it its own budget. Only reason to lump together would be to easy shift additional marketing money towards it. Doing some experiential marketing tying into a conference would be pretty slick. Where would that come from? Lines are a bit blurred since they are/can be/should be tightly connected.

To me it doesn’t really matter too much if the conferences are split off and the hackathons and the likes are put under marketing. But I guess if it adds more transparency that’s cool.