Liu’s story made me reach out to Salesforce.com Marc Benioff directly with a suggestion on how he could fix the angry feelings created by the hackathon.
He replied to my suggestion (posted below), but before we get to that, let’s recap:
Salesforce gave a $US1 million grand prize to two programmers, one of whom was a former employee, for an app found to be created before the hackathon contest.
The $US1 million was the biggest ever prize for a hackathon, which is an event where developers gather together and work nonstop to build something new. Hackathons often take place over 24 to 48 hours.
Developers were angry. They accused Salesforce of granting the prize to an app that had broken the hackathon rules.
Another big complaint was that not all the apps that were submitted by the 149 participants were even opened and looked at by the judges.
Typically the pinnacle of a hackathon is when all the submissions are displayed and developers can admire each other’s work. That didn’t happen in this case, Liu says.
She says she personally spent 150 hours working on her app, nights and weekends for a month, only to discover that the email to the judges containing the app was never opened, the code never installed and run. Judges may have looked only at a video her team submitted that demonstrated the app.
She told Business Insider that “It’s not unreasonable that for a 4-week-long hackathon that they put in the effort to actually look at some/most of the actual apps, which took considerable effort to build. … We’re not being sore losers, we just don’t want to be jerked around. “
So on Sunday, I emailed Marc Benioff and suggested how he could make this right:
Here’s the email I sent:
I’m writing about this $US1 million hackathon prize and how upset people are. Would be cool if you would announce that you, personally, will look at all the submissions. You’re a developer.
You know how harsh it is when people spend their nights and weekends building something, and they are proud and excited about what they built, and no one even looks at it (as some developers are accusing).
You could turn this whole thing around by spending your own weekend looking at the submissions.
Here is Benioff’s reply:
hi julie i totally agree with you
you can see on my twitter account I’ve said I’m doing a full review
thanks for your note
i really appreciate it
Hopefully, Benioff gives each developer some feedback on the work that they did. But so far, even with all the controversy, Salesforce.com hasn’t given much exposure to the developers who submitted projects that didn’t win.
On the hackathon’s website, under the tab “submissions,” as of right now, it shows only five apps: The five winners. No mention of the remaining 144.