The Salesforce $1 Million Hackathon is back, and it’s better than ever. We are inviting developers from our community and beyond to try out the Salesforce1 Platform and build some cool mobile apps from October 10-12 in San Francisco. Last year the hackathon generated some amazing apps but it also inadvertently created controversy. We learned a lot from it. So we are doing it again and we’re going to do it better.
New hackathon rules
We wrote all-new rules, and we tested them this summer on a hackathon tour. No Salesforce employees will be judges. Former employees can only compete if they left before July 1, 2012. We wrote clear language on what (limited) pre-existing code you can use. I think we’ve got a good roadmap for a fair and fun contest for everyone. With the hard work of a ton of developers, we expect to see some awesome work at the end of the hack.
Here are some of the changes we’ve made:
Anyone who was an employee of ours after July 1, 2012 isn’t eligible. Some former employees might still compete, but we think 26 months is a fair cutoff. We tried to strike a balance. We are the largest tech employer in San Francisco now, and many employees who leave Salesforce stay in our ecosystem because they really believe in the platform.
We love seeing great ideas succeed, so salesforce.com is an active investor in startups. In fact we just started a $100M venture fund. But we decided to exclude anyone who works for a company we’ve invested in for an equity ownership interest, no matter the amount. This rules out developers who work at a lot of great companies – like Box, Docusign, and Kenandy. We have other investments that we’ve made that are not disclosed publicly, and this rule applies to them too. One thing to remember is all prizes go to the developer teams, not to their employers.
What code can be used
This one is really hard, and after having debated all kinds of variations we basically concluded that there is no perfect way of doing it. We tried to draw clear lines that whatever application code you submit has to have been written during the contest, except for existing open source. If you use an idea that was already out, whether as as an app or as partial functionality, or any other kind of work already done, you have to disclose it to the judges so they can take it into account. We also tried to avoid edge cases like participants making old code open source on the day before the hackathon. Ultimately, in addition to the rules about what code is allowed, you have to disclose what you used. Is it perfect? No. Is it fair? We think so. See the rules for the full details and let us know what you think.
What’s a mobile app
This one is kind of a matter of opinion so we are trying to be clear: mobile apps can be native apps, hybrid mobile apps, or web apps. Just make it an awesome experience on a mobile device.
Transparency in the judging process
The main round of judging will be carried out science-fair style. At the end of the hack, teams demo their apps to teams of judges at their tables, and participate in a Q&A with the judges. We think this is the best judging format for big events and has a lot of advantages for the participants. Every team has a chance to demo their app in front of judges and peers, and to get real-time feedback. Plus, developers will be able to walk around and see what other people have built. This round gets us to 30 top teams, plus some other (open source and partner) awards, on Sunday night.
For the second and final round of judging we’ll move to a live demo and panel format for the top 15 finalists, taking place on a big open stage in the DevZone at Dreamforce on Tuesday.
None of the judges will be salesforce.com employees. We will have judges from our ecosystem, such as MVPs or CTOs from partners, since we need judges who really know our platform well enough to assess the technical quality of the submissions, including use of our platform.
Come join the community
It’s a big commitment from us to throw another million dollar hackathon. We hope that our commitment to the developer community shows and that you decide to be a part of this awesome experience. Developers always amaze us with what they can build fast with Force.com and Heroku. Can’t wait to see what you cook up this weekend.
Registration is only open until Wednesday, October 8, 6:30pm PT, so grab your spot soon!