In December 2016, Mark Zuckerberg’s showcased the innovations that came out of a Facebook hackathon via Facebook Live. That intrigued me, and as I enjoyed watching the video, I decided to blog about it.
First of all: who follows Mark Zuckerberg on Facebook? If you don’t, you should consider doing so. It is a nice example of how to drive engagement via social media. What I like with his account is that he shares updates on the company’s innovations on a regular basis, the last one being the developments around AI (Artificial Intelligence) and the release of Jarvis.
For those who know me, you know I’m a tech geek, I am passionate by innovation, specifically in the travel tech space. In 2016, I have supported hackathons for IATA (International Air Transport Association) and I LOVED this experience! Read about my role as a mentor here.
Obviously when I found out about Facebook hackathons, it draught my attention. Let me tell you more about it.
In the video, I found out that Facebook has organized not less than 70 internal hackathons since 2005!
Mark Zuckerberg explains that Facebook allocates time for employees to work overnight on their projects. During the December hackathon, the participants were given 8 hours to develop their ideas. Employees from Facebook head office as well as from Tel Aviv, New York, and Seattle participated. Rules as simple: ideas are not expected to be polished given the limited time they have.
The FB Live video shows the pitches of the groups in front of Mark Zuckerberg himself who finds out about the ideas at the same time as viewers! *Remember, I told you his account showcases best practices on how to drive engagement online via social media*
Before zooming on the ideas presented, let’s zoom on the benefits of such initiatives.
That is what I could observe during my own experiences too…
Facebook hackathons have resulted in prototypes that came into production. For instance, little features like adding GIFs, or the original Facebook video product.
Hackathons are a way to think out of the box. The fact to find oneself in a different context than the standard project mode in the office helps to foster innovation.
A hackathon… What better opportunity than bringing to life some ideas you had while working on your standard projects?
Facebook product roadmap over time is set not only by FB but also by engineers.
Engineers and Product Manager actually hang out and come up with ‘early versions of something’.
Hackathons are excellent opportunities to develop team work and a better collaboration.
In the end, obviously hackathons stimulate the employees’ motivation.
As a participant, hackathons are a way to prove the value of your ideas. As a corporation, they are a way to showcase the creativity of your teams.
Hackathons are like giant brainstorming. They demonstrate that innovation can come from a simple idea. Hackathons set the basis and once elaborated, it can lead to great products!
A list of non-exhaustive examples mentioned in the video:
• Facebook internal tools: (confidential). The video tells us they have been building internal solutions on iOS enabling them to build them 3 times faster.
Benefits are following:
1) enhance the whole productivity of the company ;
2) enable to work together more easily and move faster (ship the product easily).
During December 2016 hackathon, the following ideas were pitched in front of Mark Zuckerberg:
I encourage you to watch the above video for a complete description
Hackathons are part of Facebook’s company culture. They do hackathons in Facebook offices all over the world (Boston, London, Tel Aviv…).
What’s new is that Facebook has started to sponsor some ‘public’ hackathons, mostly related to high school, campuses, VR industry, or tools for mobile developments…