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Salesforce.com To Review Controversial Hackathon Win

Unknown Lamer posted about 5 months ago | from the nothing-amiss-here dept.

The Almighty Buck 34

itwbennett writes "Adding to the growing sentiment that prizes ruin hackathons, Salesforce.com has come under fire from critics who say the hackathon the company held at its Dreamforce conference was judged unfairly. Not long after the $1 million prize was handed to Upshot for a mobile app that let users to create and edit Salesforce.com reports, other contestants raised allegations of unfairness. Among the complaints: That Upshot's CTO Thomas Kim had demoed a similar-sounding application a couple of weeks before Oct. 25 cutoff; that Kim is a former Salesforce.com employee (although that isn't in violation of the rules); and that their own entries weren't evaluated by judges at all. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff is now promising a thorough investigation of the hackathon."

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34 comments

giving 1 million to your buddies (2)

gl4ss (559668) | about 5 months ago | (#45525235)

at a startup that could be an exit for you! say it ain't so!

also, duh, if you're going for a win at a salesforce hackathon of course you're going to try the api beforehand if you can and preferably bribe the guys with free booze or something. it's fucking salesforce after all.

Re:giving 1 million to your buddies (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45525329)

Here is the article I read about this fiasco yesterday. Well written from the point of one of the entries: https://medium.com/hackers-and-hacking/b839268fb82d

Her final point is interesting:

"If I was Salesforce, I’d be pissed an employee was so bad at his job he left a gaping hole in the product, then he leaves and starts a company that conveniently fills that hole? Yet, Salesforce gives him a million dollars. Either Salesforce is an investor in Upshot, or they’re dumb."

Re:giving 1 million to your buddies (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45525441)

I think she got a valuable lesson about how big enough businesses work. the people in best position to sell to the company are people who just left the company and every new idea that a 3rd party can do is not done because people will either not say that there's a need for something or deliberately stall it so they can use it as an exit.

Re:giving 1 million to your buddies (3, Interesting)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | about 5 months ago | (#45525899)

"If I was Salesforce, I’d be pissed an employee was so bad at his job he left a gaping hole in the product, then he leaves and starts a company that conveniently fills that hole? Yet, Salesforce gives him a million dollars. Either Salesforce is an investor in Upshot, or they’re dumb."

Unless she has proof then it's nothing but a sour grapes speaking. How do we know that the employee left the company because his ideas were constantly shot down by management, and it was only after he was able to make the product that his old employer saw the potential in that feature being provided? This happens all the time in the technology sector.

Re: giving 1 million to your buddies (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45526345)

Indeed.. Along with another reply here....

Big companies often resist change.. Even if you try to improve holes, or make things better.. Getting to those decision makers and encouraging the company to 'invest' can be impossible...

A company i know about has been promising to make a DB tracking program for a year now.. A competent programmer could bust it out in a week, maybe 2, and it would save the company $50,000-90,000 a year.. But they won't invest $2,000-$3,000 for 2 weeks of a programmers time..

Re:giving 1 million to your buddies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45532199)

How do we know that the employee left the company because his ideas were constantly shot down by management, and it was only after he was able to make the product that his old employer saw the potential in that feature being provided?
That is the longest winded, most pedantic way I've ever seen to say "or they're dumb".

Re:giving 1 million to your buddies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45527159)

Wow, Liu cracked the code. I enjoyed reading the first part. Contests are a way for big companies to get work done ridiculously cheap, and exploit technical people.

Re:giving 1 million to your buddies (1)

dantotheman (2887483) | about 5 months ago | (#45531001)

Wow, Liu cracked the code. I enjoyed reading the first part. Contests are a way for big companies to get work done ridiculously cheap, and exploit technical people.

I don't know if I would call the $1 million prize "ridiculously cheap"...

party time! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45525279)

party at the penis club! who wants a ticket?

STEUBENVILLE !! STEUBENVILLE !! STEUBENVILLE !! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45525287)

... Attica !! Attica !! Attica !!

This is an unprecedented outrage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45525339)

A company holds a contest as part of a PR event for its products and services... and then secretly fixes the outcome.

Whoa, dude. In the annals of American business, that's NEVER happened before!

Burned out (4, Interesting)

nightsky30 (3348843) | about 5 months ago | (#45525347)

After experiencing a few hackathons and seeing people submit re-titled pre-existing apps when the rules state they should be creating the app that day from scratch, I'm burned out. It shouldn't be a cheating contest. It arguably shouldn't be a contest at all. Hackathons are about collaboration, creation, and innovation.

Re:Burned out (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45525415)

The way I see it, either the prizes should be much, much lower, or if it is really supposed to be a hackathon in the true spirit, everyone should start with blank machines and no network connection. That's a hard-core competition. Otherwise there's just too much preparation that one can do.

Re:Burned out (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45525755)

Fair enough, but hackathons generally want the submissions to be good. Sure, you'll find out who the best coders are without an internet connection, but the submissions will suffer for it. You could take away the money, but then you'll have a lot less entries.

No, all they need to do is vet the winners and make sure there was no unfairness, which is easier said then done. If this company has any balls they'll rule this verdict unfair.

Re:Burned out (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45528555)

Frankly, if a company like Google did it with a prize, I'd respect it. Or perhaps an organization like EFF or even ACM, could be good for the title. Salesforce.com? No, thanks.

Re:Burned out (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45528789)

Sure, you'll find out who the best coders are without an internet connection, but the submissions will suffer for it.

The way I figure, if you give a prize, it's a competition. If it's a competition, you want to find out who the best coders are.

If you just want the best submissions possible, with money paid out by a company... well, that's like a contract for a job, turned into a lottery.

Re:Burned out (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45525529)

I guess it's better to learn from your own mistakes than to never learn at all. Even better though is to learn from other people's experience. Coding competitions or contests are similar to crowdsourcing. You get lots of people to work for you and only pay out a comparatively small amount. The only difference is that in the case of crowdsourcing, everybody gets paid a little, while in the case of a contest, even if it is done correctly, few get paid a lot and most get paid nothing.

The thing to remember is: If you're good at something, don't do it for free. Coding competitions are for people who have not yet realized the value of their work.

Glad I didn't participate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45525367)

With a prize SO much larger than the one I competed for at CodeMichigan this year, I was VERY tempted to enter this contest. Glad I didn't waste my time.

prizes are not the problem (5, Insightful)

schneidafunk (795759) | about 5 months ago | (#45525369)

Prizes don't ruin hackathons, cheating does.

Re:prizes are not the problem (1)

Webmoth (75878) | about 5 months ago | (#45529031)

So you're saying Hackathon was H@X0R3D?

Re:prizes are not the problem (1)

Anti-Social Network (3032259) | about 5 months ago | (#45532495)

The winner went for the "social engineering" tactic. It's a bit on the not-impressive side technically, but considering the dark side of hacker culture and given that we're talking about a host that has the name "sales" in its name, I can't be too particularly surprised. No honor among thiev^H^H^H^H^H marketers.

Money games are rarely fair (1)

TWiTfan (2887093) | about 5 months ago | (#45525431)

Anytime you're playing for serious money--fairness, sportsmanship, etc. tend to go out the window pretty fast (the speed in direct proportion to the amount of money involved).

weaselspeak (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45525527)

We who cheated are going to 'investigate ourselves' and waste a few weeks pretending to do something. By then the news sites will have moved onto some other 'injustice' and we win. Yay us!

prizes not the problem (1)

fermion (181285) | about 5 months ago | (#45525591)

Money is a way to attract contestants, that is people who will compete against each other to prove an often arbitrary and minor superiority. A contest that actually well designed can function without direct monetary rewards. However, this competition sounds like it is there to promote and possible create products that are a benefit to one particular firm. Therefore it is not unreasonable to assume the winner would be the product that is going to provide functionality and growth for the firm, not the product that is deemed the best by the also arbitrary standards of the contestants.

The danger is, of course, that the game will no longer have any participants. This of course is a foolish conclusion. One everyone understands how to win the million dollars, then the contestants will adjust their strategies, in the same way that most major sports have adjusted their strategies to become good TV rather than fierce competitions.

so split the prizes? (2)

dutchwhizzman (817898) | about 5 months ago | (#45527645)

How about splitting the prize money based on an objective points system? You could add bonus money for the apps that score higher, subtract for apps that merely add features to an already existing app, so you'll only merit the improvements, not the whole app. It makes it ridiculously complicated to come up with a points system that isn't cheatable, but you could probably come up with something that's harder to doctor than it's worth.

A Korean guy cheating... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45525921)

A Korean guy cheating... huge surprise there. It is basically a culture of skirting the rules.

Re:A Korean guy cheating... (1)

kaizendojo (956951) | about 5 months ago | (#45526099)

There is more than one "Korea" and Korean ethics vary as much as they do for any race. Perhaps you should do a little research before spewing your hate speech here.

Re:A Korean guy cheating... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45526445)

Yeah, I bet he was talking about North Korea. There is no context for any clues.

Re:A Korean guy cheating... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45528833)

> Perhaps you should do a little research

Sounds like you have no experience with what they are. There's a reason why almost no big businesses in the western world has one of them in a senior management level position. Their ethics and western ethics conflict.

SARE (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45526209)

wow...http://goresaninfo.blogspot.com/

salesforce can't run its own cloud (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45526665)

that should have been your first clue that this "hackathon" was far from legit

Having peripherally used Salesforce (1)

kilodelta (843627) | about 5 months ago | (#45530987)

Here's my opinion. Their product is a flaming piece of excrement. Their implementation of BMCRemedyForce is too expensive and badly implemented.
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