Occasionally I like to yield my "bully pulpit" to folks on our team that I collaborate with on joint research projects - and today is just such an occasion. Over the past few months I've been working on research with Vivian Brown on the in's and out's of public and private hackathons. It was interesting when we started this research - we got more than a few puzzled looks and questions like "why would developers want to spend their own personal time writing code?" and "hackathons might be great for start-ups and Valley companies, but will they play in Peoria?". My own personal response to these questions was to refer folks back to a stream of research I wrote in 2010 on building high-performance development teams. In my opinion a well-run hackathon is the developer equivalent of a musicians' jam session. At their core the best developers are makers - creatives who are intrinsically motivated to create and get a charge out of learning something new or building out someone else's inspiration. It's one expression of a building wave of "Social Development" that is changing the way development works, and how firms relate to developers and vice versa.
But enough rambling. I'll turn things over to Viv. Right before Thanksgiving, Salesforce hosted a well publicized "Million Dollar Hackathon" - and the results were a bit mixed. Viv's thoughts on it below: