Skip to main content

The DreamForce Million Dollar Hackathon

A few weeks we witnessed a historical event: for the first time ever a programming competition had a
million dollar bounty.  $1 Million drew a lot of attention and had many skilled programmers code up their best ideas; the flip side of $1 Million is the intense drama that’s associated with picking the winner.  In the DreamForce Hackathon the winners were accused of having the code ready before the competition announced and therefore having an unfair advantage over the rest of the field.

As a person who has won and lost hackathons I can tell you - there is nothing worse than going for several days without sleep, hacking something amazing, and then losing to someone who had an unfair advantage.  We all know that given more time all of the competitors could have improved their applications.

The first problem that is inherent in all of the hackathons is the amount of original code that needs to be written in the competition. For instance: all of us are using libraries and frameworks and no one seems to have an issue with that.  In fact people who are masters of using libraries are praised at their skillful way to configure or control those building blocks during the competition.

The second problem in the hackathons is that the nature of the event calls for quick judgment.  Everyone wants to know the winner literally hours after the submissions and presentations are done.  Anyone who has done a code review or a due diligence on any software knows that it is downright impossible to do a good amount of due diligence on dozens or hundreds of submissions in 2-3 hours.  Should we have more time for reviews?  I think all of the contestants themselves want to know if they won something pretty much that same day.

Salesforce’s decision to award the first prize to both 1st and 2nd team is incredibly generous and also probably the best given the situation.

If any of the critics come up with a better idea of how to do judgment in a compressed amount of time I think we should all try them out.  My closing advice for participants is: build apps that you would like to work on regardless of the prize.  Many of the apps built during the $1 Million Hackathon were elegant, innovative and could very well attract funding and customers.

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

SDET / QA Engineer Interview Checklist

After interviewing and hiring hundreds of engineers over the past 12+  years I have come up with a few checklists.  I wanted to share one of those with you so you could conduct comprehensive interviews of QA Engineers for your team.

I use this checklist when I review incoming resumes and during the interview.  It keeps me from missing areas that ensure a good team and technology fit.  I hope you make good use of them.  If you think there are good questions or topics that I have missed - get in touch with me!


SDE/T or QA Engineer interview checklist from Mike Borozdin
If you like this checklist you might want to check out these posts:
Emotional Intelligence in Software Teams  and Good-bye manual tester, hello crowdsourcing!

Highly Effective Software Teams

A few weeks ago our Board of Directors asked me to present my assessment of the state of software.
 I was hired to organize and grow the software team and the directors wanted to know what kind of a team we needed to build.  I was hoping that I can just reference an article somewhere that would give me the answer, unfortunately I didn’t find anything suitable. During my research I did find some great material that will be helpful if your job is to put together a highly effective software team.
A highly effective software team has the following key characteristics: dependable, committed to shared goals, passionate about technology, respectful and compassionate.  These are not limited to technology industry, it can easily apply to finance, medicine, or sports as well.  Below is the summary and references that I found. Dependable If you are creating a software product, you need to deliver your software to your users.  Your users need to know that you are able to solve their problems on …

Two Critical Questions for Your Next Interview

I’ve interviewed probably over 500 engineering and management candidates over the last several years.  There have been a lot of really smart people who have applied at DocuSign, Microsoft and Tempo Automation. A surprising number of them didn’t have a clear answer to these two essential questions:

Why are you interested in joining our team?Why should we be interested in you? 
If you are an applicant, having a prepared answer for these questions is critical.  If you are a hiring manager, you should ask them and have a clear answer to these questions at the end of the first interaction with your future team mate.

In a field where work is somewhat predictable and static, those questions are less critical, but in software development perseverance, ingenuity and focus make all the difference. These are the two main questions that will separate a subpar and a superb hire.

When I discuss those two questions with an applicant I try to go below the surface.  Generic answers like “it says you ar…