The Secret Hacker Marathon: A new creative venture to Swarm

Source: Internet
Author: User
Keywords Hackers
Tags .mall android apple business business development code coding company
Absrtact: The hacker Marathon is the programmer's American Idol, very popular. Participating in the hacking marathon, in addition to keen to delve into the technology of software engineers, as well as the team from the VC company. The competition organizers will provide a free diet. A hacker marathon is a


The hacker Marathon is the programmer's "American Idol" and is very popular.

Participating in the hacking marathon, in addition to keen to delve into the technology of software engineers, as well as the team from the VC company.

The competition organizers will provide a free diet.

The hacker marathon is generally up to dozens of hours, the contestant is tired or sits or lies, the scene rests.

With the popularity of smartphones, "hacker marathon" has gradually become the main form of plug-in development: A group of experts gathered in dozens of hours to take out the works, the best record. Last year, the United States held more than 200 "hacker marathon", which spawned many new ideas and developed into a huge industry-since 2007, only around the Apple iOS system to develop a covers program to bring programmers 3 billion dollars in revenue. and VCs are pouring in to find worthy targets.

Deck Dor is working hard. It's a basement with fluorescent lights on. Dor in front of a MacBook and, like 31 other software engineers, he has been crunching the source code for 12 hours in a row. There were only a few small windows in the basement, and the thick metal grille made them darker. The temperature outside is 82 degrees Fahrenheit, a sunny day in San Francisco. Every sight of the pedestrian's light legs dangling from the window, they felt scratching their ears. "The sun is so good today." Dor sighs.

The good news: there's plenty of Red Bull, chips, beer and energy sticks in the kitchen, all free. The bad news: they still have 34 hours to go.

We are participating in the Bemyapp contest. This is a "hacker marathon". Within 48 hours, the contestants will have to conceive and design a plugin for the Android phone and show them to the judges. Last night, we worked until midnight. I said "we" because I was the leader of one of the teams. Someone gave me a microphone in Friday, and I spent 60 seconds talking about my plug-in idea, and the next 30 minutes was with the other 10 people who wanted to be CEO. We strive to become one of six "creative generators". Engineers and designers can enter the game automatically, and only people with plug-in ideas (regardless of experience or qualifications) are selected. Only engineers and designers can vote. And we have to use the eloquence of the second-hand car salesman and try to recruit them.

"Our plug-ins are bigger than Angry Birds!" A fellow boasted.

"I got 200 million dollars in venture capital!" Another joke said.

"If you choose me, you can go to Wired magazine!" I begged.

The "Hacker Marathon", like the Programmer's "American Idol", has been extremely popular in recent years. With more Easy-to-use software authoring tools and companies willing to let third parties share their data, last year the United States held more than 200 "hacking marathons" (more in other parts of the world). The result has been a series of creative and emerging businesses that revolve around Apple's iOS system and, starting in 2007, have developed covers plug-ins that generate 3 billion of billions of dollars for programmers (Android Plug-ins 400,000, earning about 100 million dollars).

Even at this time ——— the opportunity to develop plug-ins and make money is bursting, the time and budget required to write Plug-ins has fallen again, close to zero. As long as the programmer cuts and pastes a few lines of code, it can add core functionality to the plug-in. With this technique known as the glue layer, they can focus on developing new features.

In other words, this is an ideal time to enter the plug-in industry ——— even if you are like me, a line of code will not be written. The hacker marathon has a "come and go" atmosphere that has become a new forum for communicating, learning and testing new plug-ins and attracting VCs.

The "Hacker Marathon" is different in size, probably in a small competition with 20 programmers in a hotel cafeteria, or in a 13.30,000 square foot warehouse, with up to 500 players. The bigger the game, the more attractive the bonuses are. Fortune 500 companies want to use the hacker marathon to promote themselves, At&t, Microsoft, Nokia, and even Unilever's giants have hosted the hacking Marathon and plug-in competition. To run a 100-person competition, it takes only 5, 0, 0, $ ——— to consider the investment is negligible if a competitor makes a blockbuster plug-in and is rewarded by the company on the market. Last summer, Foursquare's first "global hacker Marathon" was held simultaneously in New York, San Francisco, Tokyo and Paris (and also in remote areas), attracting more than 500 developers from 90 countries. The trophy is a gold-plated belt that is enough for Tyson to wear, a trip to New York, and a chance to have dinner with one of the founders of Foursquare. In a hacking marathon run by a new source-code platform company, I saw the champions lift 10,000 of billions of dollars of giant checks.

Venture capitalists also see the hacking Marathon as an ideal place to look for talent and investment goals. "This is the investor's paradise!" Ron Conway said he had previously invested in Google, PayPal and Twitter, and was one of the founders of the investment company SV Angel. "You can see the idea, see the product, see how quickly a team develops under high pressure." It's like a one-stop shop. "In the AngelHack competition, the champions not only won 15000 of dollars in seed money, but also had a niche in the accelerator." In the disrupt hacker marathon in TechCrunch, the champions can win up to 250,000 dollars in bonuses, as well as the opportunity to meet with "super Angels" like Conway.

The current wave has spread beyond the traditional technological world, with the advent of women's hacking marathon, teenage Hacker Marathon, college student Hacking Marathon, the Autism Struggle Hacker Marathon, the improved education hacker Marathon, the help veteran hacker Marathon, the creation of "Occupy Wall Street" protest tool Hacker Marathon, the Clean energy Hacker marathon, Vermont's Grocery Shopping guide, the hacker Marathon, and 14 marathon ——— games for water pollution were broadcast live from nine cities, including Bangalore and Nairobi.

The hacking marathon didn't come out of nowhere, it came from the code stream. The movie "Social Network" is famous: Mark Zuckerberg held a 10-minute coding contest in a Harvard dorm, and the winner became his first intern. Now every two months, Facebook's more than 700 software engineers gather in the company's office for a 24-hour race, decorated with large stickers with h-a-c-k (meaning "hacker" or "code"). Many of Facebook's key features, including the timeline (timeline) and the "Like" buttons, are all created in the form of a hacking marathon project. Winners can get limited-edition posters with inspirational sentences, such as in HACK we believe in code. Last December, lawmakers even invited Facebook to Captiol Hill to hold a hacking marathon.

At Google, software engineers can use 20% of their working hours to develop a secondary project. Creativity is often produced in the beta, where up to 100 engineers gather to quickly "invade" Google's own products. From established technology companies such as LinkedIn and Yelp to start-ups such as rockmelt and path, all night long coding contests are held to encourage creativity and dispel boredom.

Of course, from the 1960 's onwards, programmers have been participating in self-organizing informal hacking marathons. Stephen Levis in the 1984 issue of the "hacker" that MIT students are more interested in the 24-hour "marathon storm." Until the end of the 1990, however, the hacking marathon emerged: after a series of lectures, software engineers at the open source software conference were eager to get their hands on it. So the last day, they converged in a room, together to learn the code, there was no bonus, no referral, no non-technical community participants.

Let's go back to Bemyapp scene. My ideas get the most support. Even better, I won the battle for talent. Along with Dor, who calls himself a technical wizard, I grabbed Scotty Allen, who worked at Google and was responsible for the company's Web servers. I also grabbed a Zache Pol, 27-year-old with a baby face, who began his professional coding career at the age of 14, and worked in Texas Instruments, and four new start-ups that attracted full investment.

To be honest, as early as one months ago, I got the promise of a wave order to help ——— when we met in another hacking marathon. He is a recognised "marathon addict" who has participated in 75 similar competitions since 2007, averaging one months and two times, often winning. He has developed a plug-in, using the ipad accelerometer to develop remote control Lego Mindstorm NXT toys, the ipad to the left, the robot will go to the left. The wave order defeated 54 teams in the game of the most cool plugin for iOS Dev camp that Apple developers are particularly keen on. How can I lose if I have a wave?

Bemyapp does not encourage the development of plug-ins for fun, world peace or bonuses. The game's mission is to promote small companies, its advertising slogan is: "Friday with your ideas, Sunday with Plug-ins and a company partner to leave." "Every three months, Bemyapp is also held in as many as seven cities worldwide, including London, Paris and Zurich." Organizers claim that at least one project will be able to enter an Apple or an Android plug-in store each time.

Will my plugin win such a privilege?

By the evening of Saturday 11:27, my team was no longer concerned with winning and not winning, but wanted to finish it quickly.

"Everyone, I haven't made any headway with this rails loophole," Allen said.

"Fuck rails!." Said the wave order.

These two-bit developers have been developing plug-ins with Ruby on Rails for two years. Friday they said they wanted to use the Python or JavaScript programming language, and it was Dor who persuaded everyone to use Ruby. But he went home to sleep, and our work was deadlocked. In 19 hours, free pizza is over.

Steve Matoch and Jaled Hecot spent months looking for a new office, and the two young men in their early 20 were the founders of G ROUPM E. Finally, they placed the company in a 5300-square-foot, 10-storey factory in Flatiron, New York. The office has row facing south Windows, at dusk, 23 employees can play table tennis, watching the orange Red sun dyed the surrounding buildings.

Matoch the last company to take office before he started his business. For several months in 2010 years, he was in Gilt Groupe (online retailer) like a banished outcast. Then G Ilt held the first internal hacking marathon, and the 27-year-old Matoch a one-night time to come up with an analysis and an exhibition

G ilt software for maximum opponent's real time revenue. It's not a vicious design, it's just an analysis using existing data and public APIs. Matoch won the game and the boss threw him an ipad. He asked to continue to develop the software, but the company refused, fearing a bad effect. Matoch is frustrated, and his friend Hecot knows what will cheer him up: To join the New York 2010 disruptive hacking marathon.

Hecot will not encode. At the age of 23, he was blogging platform Tumblr doing business development, like Matoch, want to create their own company. They found the same dissatisfaction in texting: They couldn't send SMS updates to a group of friends while they were at the concert. Of course, people with BlackBerrys can use BBM, but all people with iphones, Android phones or other low-end handsets are excluded. They want a group of people to read and update information sent by a member. To Matoch's surprise, there was no such plugin. So they decided to develop a.

Two people carefully conceived the plug-in design, functionality and commercial development, found only one problem. "We don't know how to write it," Hecot said. They need this mode of messaging: a member simply sends the message to a phone number, and the number sends the message to everyone. "We need an information platform called Clickatell, but we realize that the functionality we need is banned in the United States." "The moment they walked into the disrupt arena, they had to know the important news. Without Clickatell as the basis for the entire plug-in, they lost the sending platform.

But, at the meeting, they found a company Twilio, a cloud platform for voice and SMS, that could deliver the kind of information they wanted (Twilio's channel also responsible for Hulu's customer support, StubHub's sales and Airbnb's mobile subscription service).

The next two people in 12 hours to do a plug-in, the first name, Hecot for it registered domain name and Twitter account, designed the logo, in Kinko ' s printed 1000 business cards, and whiteboard to do a demo. During the game, Hecot was also responsible for transporting beer and pizza for Matoch, who occasionally stood up just to get a quick toilet and stretch. "When the hacker marathon goes to 5 o'clock in the morning, it gets weird and people walk around like zombies," Hecot said, "I found a corner and lay down on the ground and fell asleep." ”

72 hours later, Matoch on stage, facing 300 people to demonstrate, he completed the task in 97 seconds, and even most of the plug-ins are available. At the end of the demo, Matoch through the crowd. "We will solve the problem of group communication!" As he advertised, he handed out a business card to every investor he was willing to accept. He took out the iphone display plugin, surrounded by a circle of people soon, more people followed.

The following Monday, Matoch and Hecot received a call from venture capitalists Charlie Odonair. He saw in the hacker Marathon and asked his main head of the primary Round Capital company to join an information group for trial. They like it. Then Hecot and Matoch resigned, their company opened in August with a new name Groupeme, with 850,000 of dollars invested from several companies, including first Round and SV Angel. By January 2011, they had absorbed 10.6 million dollars in investment. At the SXSW Music festival in March, 2 million messages were sent through the service. 5 months later, GroupMe was bought by Skype at 85 million dollars. It's a good result for a 12-hour project.

VCs like a motto: "Execution is everything." It means that they are not looking for ideas, but people. That's why investors are particularly fond of hacking marathons, and are going to have to do with lower-level employees: there's a talent spot. "In the past, everyone was used to wrapping a room at a technical convention. The current trend is, if you want to find an engineer, go to the hacker marathon. Shaho Roccobo Galahan said she was one of Andreessen Horowitz's partners, and the company's portfolio includes Facebook, Groupon and Skype. Garrahan is responsible for the company's technical talent team, which consists of 7 people, who participated in several hacking marathons in 2011, and Garrahan hopes they will be able to participate more this year.

GroupMe's first supporter, Odonair, opened his own VC company Brooklyn Bridge Ventures in January. He participates in a hacker marathon every month (as is the case with Conway's team in Svangel). He is also investing in another emerging company, created in the hacking marathon ——— Digital warehouse docracy that provides storage services for legal and commercial documents. 20% of the people he has recommended to start-ups are the engineers he encounters at the hacking marathon.

Given the shortage of talent in Silicon Valley, venture capitalists are not the only ones walking around in a hacking marathon. Independent technical headhunters are particularly active, and they have a good reason: a software engineer can get a starting salary of up to 100,000 dollars, and a headhunter gets a 20% commission on his first year's salary. But not everyone thinks that the influx of headhunters and the emphasis on commercialization is good. Some argue that the hacker marathon should be left to engineers, who should focus more on creativity and coding than on income. "If I can do it, a VC in this room won't let you in," said Facebook engineer Paul Targens. "They stifle creativity. ”

Each year, the Zetas visit 10 universities, where up to 200 students attend a Facebook-sponsored hacking marathon. The winners will fly to Facebook headquarters for the final, and the judges are Mark Zuckerberg himself. The winners of the finals can usually practice on Facebook. "We used to try to collaborate between engineers and MBAs," Targens said. "The results were bad. According to the current market leader

Gourd painting ladle, and then add some ' condiments ', such as another clone of a roupon. I prefer the hacker marathon, which is to throw the idea out and see which one stands, not the cold, computational problems ——— ' What to make money '.

The aversion of Tal gives a natural clash between engineering design and business culture. The social network has shown and highlighted this: it describes a struggle between a skinny programmer and a twin MBA. In real life, the Vinclevens brothers and the committed Zuckerberg have been fighting for more than 10 years to prove this.

The growing number of non tech "creative generators" in the hacker marathon has made many software engineers uncomfortable, and they look at these people with suspicion and contempt. Several engineers ——— including those who did not work for Zuckerberg ——— told me that those who were interested in commercial development should be barred from being close to the hacking marathon. Even the ———, who is responsible for commercial development in the two founders of the Hecot ——— GroupMe, has in some way endorsed this. "Look, in TechCrunch's game, the winners got 100,000 dollars," he said, "is that the kind of culture that solves problems with innovation?" ”

"I can't stand Ruby anymore, I'd better shut up," my chief engineer said with a sigh of disgust. He slept for a few hours, but woke up at 4:30 A.M. to test and never stopped. It's Sunday one o'clock in the afternoon, and my three engineers have five hours to clear the hole and hang the visual design in the frame they built.

At the same time, I was preparing a presentation with designer Jelemy Van Fullitt, who had relied on Namerick to win the Bemyapp game (which is now in Apple's Plug-in store). He tried to restrain his anger at the end of my stay. This is not to say that I have been idle all the time. I signed up for domain names and Twitter accounts, combed the user interface and functional systems with the team, helped design a logo and worked hard to impress the judges.

So what kind of plug-ins are we doing?

Its name is Hackzombie, a plug-in that shares, browses and "awards" the Hacker Marathon Project. There are so many hacking marathons, so it's hard to remember exactly what works in each game. There is no data exchange, and behind each of the groupeme or docracy, there are thousands of plugins that are forgotten. In the best case, a project's source code will be uploaded to GitHub, a Wikipedia-like place, perhaps when one of the millions of users on the site sees the code and starts a new edit, or develops a new version. But the more common scenario is that the code is buried there and discarded. Never。

So my idea is to do a plugin to get those abandoned projects back to the dead. Engineers can write a 140-word description of their software, posted on a Twitter-like platform. Users can view and then click on a button similar to "like" in Facebook. It's just that I'm not using the thumb icon, but the Hawaiian gesture of "great". Later, we renamed the idea Hackyeah!, and called it "hacker and New plug-in home".

I used to worry that it would be a tool for stealing ideas rather than recommending ideas. But I've talked to a lot of programmers who don't agree with this kind of concern. Yes, the hacker culture originating from the source community has evolved into an efficient system for producing intellectual property, but it also encourages transparency. "Stealth mode is overrated," says John Wotkinson, one of Docracy's founders. "If we can't achieve our ideas faster than anyone else, it's our fault." ”

"Five minutes!" The wave order announces.

"Oh, damn it!" Dor answered.

I hurried to get the free beer.

My demo, which took 60 seconds, was a bit blurry, followed by a two-minute question. The basic functionality of our plug-in ——— that sandbox button ——— actually works, which is much better than some other teams. A group of "plugins" seems to be just a series of lines painted with Photoshop. After 20 minutes in a conference room, the judges returned. They gave me some feedback first. "Well done." The judges said.

Then they announced that the championship was ———

Jesterchess!? It's a game, it's said to be somewhere between chess and Sudoku. This is the guy who said his plugin would be more powerful than the angry bird, and apparently the judges were persuaded by him. And the Honorable mention is ———

Choice!? This is a "charity calculator". Before you buy a Starbucks coffee you enter the word "$" and the plugin will tell you what the 3 dollar donation means to UNICEF: 10 measles vaccines.

This makes hack yeah! almost to the bottom of the position, I was not in the mood to ask it is the bottom of the first few. My team is crestfallen. I took them out. Now our plugins are abandoned.

I think of Matoch and cheer up. After the hacker marathon Gilt Groupe, he took part in four games and never won one, including the one that created the groupeme. "We're not the coolest, not the winners, it doesn't matter," Matoch told me. "If your goal is to stand on the podium or be declared a winner, your reasons may not be correct." In addition, our demo did only half the success. ”

After the game, I wandered on the sidewalk outside the basement, with Alan and Van Fullitt to envision new ideas. How about a meal delivery plugin? Describe the food you want, and then bid at the restaurant to see who can deliver at the cheapest price in the shortest possible time. or develop a booking plugin? You set a price to pay, and as the date approaches, the ticket seller can choose to accept your price, or risk throwing the ticket in the hand and not selling it.

We prefer the latter idea. ' It shouldn't be too hard to develop a model, ' Mr. Allen said. I point out that this is obviously a profit-making value for the ticketing party. Van Fullitt said loudly, T W Ilio next week to hold another hacker marathon, we should attend.

This may be due to a lack of sleep, perhaps people often say the "Hacker marathon Passion." But right now, our idea sounds really good. What we need to do is to implement it and make it happen. Because if we don't do it, people will beat us to it.


Coding game Process

1 Come up with ideas

Most are plug-ins for mobile phones and sometimes programs for tablets or LEGO companies.

2 Organization Team

2-5 people can find the horses before the game. The ideal team includes engineers (responsible for coding), designers (Design user interface), and business developers (for referrals).

3 Realize Creativity

Most or all of the work is done in the game, usually for 24-48 hours. At the end of the game, most of the software functions to reach the available level. The project should also have names, logos and websites.

4 Demo finished product

Each team has two minutes to demonstrate the product, explain how the plug-in works with a short slide, and explain its profitability, advertising, and growth potential.

5 Facing Judgment

The judges often include VCs, corporate executives, journalists and programmers, and the criteria include the concept of plug-ins, functionality, design, usability, and business development potential.

6 Receive Bonuses

A large competition can get as much as $250,000 in seed money and take a place in the accelerator, which could be 10,000 dollars, an ipad or a laptop, or an award certificate.

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