Some coders go from one marathon hacking session to another, subsisting on prize money and schwag. From a feature article on Bloomberg: Peter Ma looked around his San Francisco condo and realized he’d won everything in it. His flat-screen TV, home theater system, 3D printers, phones, tablets, computers and furniture were either hackathon prizes or purchased with hackathon earnings. Stashed under his leather couch — which he’d bought with an Amazon gift card — was a thick stack of 2- and 3-foot-long cardboard checks commemorating his most cherished wins. “The only non-schwag I have are shoes,” he said. With his gray hoodie and close-cropped goatee, 33-year-old Ma looks like any of the thousands of computer programmers roaming the city, but he’s part of an elite corps. He and about a dozen friends travel the hackathon circuit. They build apps, connected devices and other products during all-night, fiercely competitive programming contests where sleep is scarce and caffeine is plentiful. The sessions are usually sponsored by corporations, and top prizes mean serious cash. Some of the hackers have jobs. Some do contracting work. Some have corporate sponsors. Almost all of them are working on a pet startup idea. For Ma and a few others, hackathons are a job. Ma knows he would make more money if he had a more traditional career. He just doesn’t want one.
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