Together with Samsung Next we created Stack Zero, a 500,000$ grant to support early-stage teams building decentralized technologies.
Since its inception the internet underwent several transformations. First it was built on open protocols that were controlled by the internet community, then big tech platforms took over and started to centralize power and decision making – giving access to billions of people to free-to-use technologies, yet making it harder for startups, creators, and other groups to participate in having a part of the cake.
Decentralization is the movement that aims to create a new infrastructure for the web that’s based on open protocols that are community-owned. Yet, besides the hype around blockchain and crypto networks, many of the technologies being built on an infrastructure layer have difficulty getting VC funding due to inherently low ROIs – such as open source protocols similar to TCP/IP that eventually become a backbone of the future internet infrastructure, but will never get sold.
Ahead of Stack Zero's global launch we conducted a series of interviews with leading founders and investors in the decentralization space. Blockstack Berlin, 2018
We’ve developed the program in close collaboration with the decentralization community. Through interviews (such as above, conducted as part of Blockstack Berlin in February 2018), feedback sessions, hackathons and an advisory panel we made sure to tailor the initiative to the community’s needs.
As a result we designed the grant to be 100% non-profit, no strings attached. Upon receiving the grant, no equity or influence in the projects is taken by Samsung, allowing the teams to continue building independently and deciding where the money should go.
The Stack Zero Sessions, an invite-only unconference during Blockchain Week Berlin, gathered 100 builders discussing the future of decentralization.
Stack Zero received more than 100 applications and awarded nine teams with grants between $25,000 and $75,000. Projects such as Mastodon, a decentralized version of Twitter, or Mapeo, developing peer-to-peer tools allow indigenous tribes in South America to map the territories fundamental to their society, have been funded.
The program continued in 2019 when the Stack Zero Sessions were held, a one-day unconference as part of Berlin Blockchain Week that brought 80 of the grant recipients and other experts together for a day of discussing the future of decentralization.