Announcing our ETHBerlin04 experiment + Department of Decentralization's Financial Status Report

Announcing our ETHBerlin04 experiment + Department of Decentralization's Financial Status Report

As we understand that the crypto space has expanded and some people might not be familiar with our history, let's start from the beginning.

In 2018 and 2019, fundraising for ETHBerlin and other events and experiments, in the midst of a bear market, felt like going for a swim in a tar pit. Nonetheless we persisted, went ahead with two very successful hackathons, helped Görli testnet launch, collaborated with other educational initiatives across the ecosystem and much more. We got the entity incorporated and recognized as a non-profit, a status we keep until today.

ETHBerlin 2018: The inception of Görli testnet
A kind reminder that this actually happened at ETHBerlin 2019

Then the pandemic hit the world, just when we were about to start fundraising for DREI, 2020's ETHBerlin, and like everybody else, we had to take a backseat. However, we were full of ideas and ready to adapt, so at the end of 2020 we.... hosted a talk show. An online conference with a humorous undertone, designed to continue our mission of giving a platform to crypto technologists and creatives, and to lift everyones spirits up.

This also actually happened. And objective sources confirm: It was fabulous.

After that, and given that lockdowns and restrictions in Germany where we mostly operate from continued throughout 2021, we entered a period of reflection with regards to the organization, while continuing to keep our Art Department alive by working on a project with the philosopher and artist Hito Steyerl, StrikeDAO. 

Stina, Beth and MP presenting the governance proposal for the Bundeskunsthalle for the Hito Steyerl StrikeDAO project

2022 was a good year: the organization's management changed hands (very healthy, considering that we pride ourselves with advocating for decentralization) - MP ended her 4 year tenure, and Afri took over. ETHBerlin³ took place, with rave reviews and the extravagant touch that makes our hackathon so special.

Scenes from ETHBerlin³ - We cannot wait to see you hacking again this year!

In early 2023 we saw Görli Testnet "explode". Layer Zero built a bridge from testnet to mainnet, and before we could even realize, a huge community of speculators claiming that Görli, our cute little testnet, was the future of blockchain (??????????) were creating a bubble around it. So we did what we thought was best, and played that market along. 

Promo image for Görlicon 2019, where we launched the Görli Testnet

That year, we also received our first RetroPGF Optimism grant. The Görli saga, the Grants and tax returns allowed us to build the ultimate experiment with total freedom: ProtocolBerg. A white label, sponsorless, tech only, no bs conference, totally free for everyone. And a new sub-movement within DoD was born. 

The ProtoCOOL Berg team and volunteers happy at the end of the successful first edition!

And before we could even realize... it's 2024 and the DoD is now on its sixth year of operations, it has a strong brand, and the receipts to prove that even if our reputation might precede us, there's constant action and the desire to continue experimenting and improving. 

The best thing about this, is that people know it. And we're humbled and grateful every day for it. Thanks to the recognition of the crypto community, we have received several rounds of Optimism's Retroactive PGF (Public Goods Funding) grants. Currently, our treasury sits at EUR 408,324.93. Part of that money is obviously, as for all other grantees, vesting over three months. This money will be allocated towards educational initiatives, grants, and mission-aligned experiments. A full report will be issued at the end of the calendar year.

Now we are in February 2024, three months before ETHBerlin04, and we have all the funding we need for it. So... what do we do with all the companies that ARE already part of our movement and want to support us? We certainly can't take their money this year. Taking more money than we can spend (and we can only spend it our mission - educating about decentralized technologies) could cause us to lose our non-profit ("gemeinnützig") status. At the same time, we do not want to lose our supporters, all those projects that helped us bootstrap so many hackathons and events, that kept us going throughout all these years. 

This year's ETHBerlin... well, it's on us, and it's sponsorless. But that does not mean that we don't want our supporters to join us. It means that we will relieve them from spending in brand placement and sponsorship fees, but they get to invest in creating experiences that will enrich the hackathon. In the spirit of ETHBerlin, and our values of openness and collaboration, we would love our community to support us to make the hackathon more quirky, colorful, exciting and educational.

We would like to invite our community to co-create and contribute unique experiences to our program. In the past we've had a cinebar, escape room, treasure hunt, ice cream trucks, art and sound installations, wellness room and more! We would love to hear your proposals, please go as crazy as you like. In order to guide you (we have some rules that have been decided by our community to preserve our identity) - you can read our Experiences primer here.

Experiences can be hosted by any community, initiative, interest group, collective, or project and should be inclusive to all our attendees. Anyone that wants to host an experience should reach out to the team via and we are happy to share more info on what being an experience host could entail.

This year, we're lucky: we get to give back and allow people to truly build what they want, and have fun by doing so. Crypto companies, hackers, mentors, judges, volunteers, everyone gets to come for free, as long as you're contributing to the growth of this community with your ideas. It is a brand new experiment for us, and while we don't know if next year we will be able to repeat it, it sure makes sense to try it at least once (as a treat!). 

How much is the fish? The failed Holešky testnet launch at Protocol Berg 🐟

We'd like to close this post by thanking everyone that has supported us throughout these six amazing years, and has worked and contributed to ensure that DoD will continue to live for many more. Every single person that has passed through our doors means the world to us. 

Now let's have some fun :) 

Afri, Franzi, Helena, Raul, Rose, Lea, MP, Kaan, Martin, Ligi, Konrad, Kirill, Jacob