Writing for TechCrunch, IBM's Simon Lightstone says, "There is now a compelling argument for ambitious programmers to live off hackathons: They can forget the long-term slog of building a startup and instead focus on the fun part — the first few days of innovation." His reasoning is that many hackathons are now offering large prizes of up to a million dollars. And one young developer named Brian Clarke already claims to have earned more than $150,000 in hackathon prizes.
On the other hand, if a class of "pro" hackers arises, it could fundamentally change the nature of most hackathons.
If you'd like to try turning "pro" yourself, check out the article for list of hackathons with big prizes.