Niantic gobbles up Miami’s SpotX Games in an effort to enter Web3 | #emailsecurity | #phishing | #ransomware


The SpotX team came together at the Shrimp House during Miami Hack Week

By Marcella McCarthy

SpotX Games, a Web3 project that came out of this year’s Miami Hack Week, announced today that its founders are joining Niantic, the company behind Pokémon GO, and bringing SpotX games with them. SpotX Games lets people experience an augmented reality scavenger hunt across the city and earn a first-of-its-kind user generated NFT showcasing the user’s unique experience.

“We were really a hackathon team that built something in a week and then met Niantic the next week and our lives were changed,” said Traci Levine, one of the co-founders of SpotX Games. “When I heard the CTO [of Niantic] was flying to Miami to meet us, that’s when I knew this was real,” said Levine.

Niantic offered to bring the SpotX team inhouse and give them full-time jobs to continue working on it, and they said yes. 

“It wasn’t even a company when we found them,” said Phil Keslin, CTO of Niantic. 

While Niantic is based in San Francisco, Keslin said the SpotX team will continue in Miami. “One of the main reasons they’re staying in Miami is because Miami has become such a hotbed for Web3,” he said in an interview with Refresh. 

The initial connection between SpotX and Niantic happened because the Niantic team was coming to town and looking to meet women in Web3, and that’s how they got connected with Levine. Levine is a member of Web3 Equity, a local organization that helps educate and onboard women onto Web3.

Miami Hack Week 2022

Ja’dan Johnson

Levine linked up with her soon-to-be co-founders this last January at Miami Hack Week, which was founded by Ja’dan Johnson, a Miami Tech OG. “Miami Hack Week is a unique Web3 focused hackathon positioned to recruit 5,000 engineers to Miami,” he says on his LinkedIn. For Johnson, who had previously started a huge hacker event in the Caribbean, this was nothing new.

“Hack Week is one of Miami’s largest events attracting technical talent into the ecosystem — and we continue to see our community members make lifelong friendships, accept new jobs or even go on to build companies right here in Miami. This shows that Miami is and will continue to be an ecosystem that can present life-changing opportunities in tech and events like Hack Week are huge catalysts for this moment,” Johnson told Refresh Miami via email. 

Unlike other hackathons, which pile developers into a large room together, Miami Hack Week establishes “hacker houses” around Miami and the Shrimp Society sponsored one this year. Chris Daniels is the founder of the Shrimp Society, an innovation ecosystem for early stage entrepreneurs in Miami. He is also a co-founder of SpotX Games, which counts a group of 5 on the founding team.

“We had 350 applications to join the house and had to narrow it down to 20 spots,” Daniels said in an interview. Four of the people who made it were Galina Fendikevich, Traci Levine, Jackson Harris and David Woodward, who would become the founding team of SpotX. While some of the members had been living in Miami for a while, Harris was one of the developers that Hack Week attracted, just as Johnson had predicted. 

“I came out to Hack Week [from California] to meet more Web3 people because Miami is less hierarchical, more free flowing,” Harris said.

Shrimp House hackers, including the future members of SpotX, celebrate at Miami Hack Week’s closing event.

Future Plans

Now that they are inherently funded, the SpotX team is working to launch a game called Myne at a conference in San Francisco (Myne stands for mint your nft experience). They are building off of their experience of having launched a game at South by Southwest, too.

“A lot of focus on the game is allowing people to play who don’t have a metamask. They can login with a Web2 login and in the background we do all the tech for them and drop the NFT, so they can play without setting up all the Web3 space beforehand,” said Harris.

Photo at top of post: Members of SpotX and Niantic meet to discuss the deal at CIC.

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