Hack Day #2 — Brave New Stack

Henri Stern


Apr 5, 2022

On Friday March 25th 2022, Privy held its second hack day!

What is hack day?

For hack day, everyone on the Privy team takes a break from our usual work to build something in web3. We invite friends and complete strangers to join if they have projects to work on and we build. There’s a “check-in” in the morning and a “show-off” at the end of the day. We do these on Friday because most of us end up wanting to keep hacking over the weekend.

There are no rules to speak of beyond that:

The first rule about hack day is you build a fun project in web3.

The second rule about hack day is you build a fun project in web3.

… It’s kind of like Fight Club for nerds, without the gratuitous violence or 90s emo feel. No plan required ahead of time, no pressure to get a particular something out (though we do like demos). Just a time to do that thing you’ve been putting off for too long.

Why do this? 3 main reasons:

  1. Remote work is hard — let’s hang out🍹.We’ve really enjoyed having a dedicated space/time in which to take a step back and hang out with teammates in a slightly less focused, transactional (“what are we here to get done?”) environment and take a second to just shoot the shit.

  2. Web3 is just getting started — let’s try new primitives 🧠.There is so much to build in the space. With new primitives, protocols, and projects coming out weekly, there’s so much to play around with. Why shouldn’t we? It’s also a great occasion to give our web3-curious friends an excuse to hang out and dip their toes.

  3. User empathy — a day in the life 🥰.You knew there was gonna be some startup-y reason, didn’t you 😏 — you were right.

At Privy, we build developer tooling. We believe that better tools to manage user data off-chain will unlock brilliant UX and mainstream adoption of web3. But what does “better tooling” look like in practice? Better than what? For what stack?

Building better tooling means understanding the state of the web3 stack today. It can be easy to go heads down in building your product and forget who you’re building for. Hack day is a big way in which we get to work on the things our users work on.

With that…

Takeaways from Privy Hack Day 2!

For this second iteration, we met up in Gather Town.

The venue this time around was the “Hack Café” — great breakaway “rooms”, the coffee is just ok.

While the Gather screenshare gave us a bit of trouble (browser work is hard), the 2d space made the day feel more casual and playful. Being in a virtual world rather than just on-camera makes conversations feel a bit more whimsical rather than just about getting answers. It was a nice hang-out experience.

We saw some great products built, including

  • NFTrees — Grow an NFTree. Water your NFTree on chain to grow fruit, mint COMPOST tokens.

  • Secretary Game — cryptoeconomic variant of the secretary problem — players can pay a fee draw a number, the closest to a max wins at the end of the game (a month) — but there’s sabotage.

  • BouncePass — Gather Town based interface for staking tokens across various blockchains!

  • Pixatar — inspired NFT project to enshrine 5x5 pixel grids as NFTs

  • And much more including a web3 version of wormhole, Ceramic note-taking app, and very cool Verifiable Credentials project (more on that soon ;)!

Lessons/questions from the day include:

  • Docs matter — kudos to Ironfish for crafting some of the best L1 docs out there and an impeccable incentivized testnet experience!

  • JSON RPC gaps? — are there good libraries to make json rpc calls in smart contracts?

  • Randomness and payments — a comparison of Drand and Chainlink’s VRF 

    library (with its cool payment system).

  • Native systems are hard to build atop of — the abstractions atop the core systems (alchemy, moralis, opensea) are essential. The roots of recentralization make more sense as you start building 🤨🤔🤫.

  • Boilerplate palooza — A lot of boilerplate repos out there. Lots of folks getting into web3 are using the same core libraries to get started. The space is missing some of the library competition we’ve seen elsewhere with things like css frameworks/ORM battles making for cleaner tooling available — a lot to be built yet.

Tune in for our next web3 hack day if you want to build with frens. Follow privy_io on Twitter so you don’t miss it.

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