Last week, Salesforce.com set off an uproar in the developer community
when it made a decision to award a massive $US1 million hackathon prizeto a team of developers accused of breaking the contest rules.
Today it issued an apology and agreed to award another $US1 million to a new team, the second-place winners, who wrote an app called Healthcare.Love. As second prize winners, Healthcare.Love had originally won $US50,000.
But Salesforce.com is also standing by its first choice and allowing the original winners to keep their $US1 million, too.
The original grand prize of $US1 million was the biggest ever for a hackathon, which is an event where developers gather together and work nonstop to build something new in a short amount of time.
Other developers complained that the winning app wasn’t newly created and shouldn’t have been eligible to win. Salesforce explained that existing apps could win, but would only be judged by the new features built as part of the contest.
However, the company admitted that it didn’t do a good job of letting the final judges know that they were only supposed to look at the new features, it said.
Developers had other complaints about the month-long hackathon. Some said the judges didn’t adequately look at all the apps. Alicia Liu, part of development team SalesRun told Business Insider that this bothered her most.
Salesforce.com also skipped most people’s favourite part: they never showed off the submissions, allowing developers to see what the other teams did and get feedback on their own work. Salesforce.com is rectifying that now, putting them all online.
After the uproar, CEO Marc Benioff got involved, tweeting that Salesforce was investigating the whole event. Benioff, who is also a programmer, promised to make things right. And in the end, the company did eat a lot of crow. Salesforce.com’s Adam Seligman wrote things in his apology post like:
We didn’t get this right …
Our judges reviewed every submission, but we passed zero feedback to participants. This was a big miss. …
We sent an impersonal email to all participants … This was a lame mail to send at 3:30 in the morning.
Finally, we plan to do more Salesforce1 Hackathons! We’ll partner with an outside firm to execute them. It’s not our core competency.