Third Hack Week: A Tradition Gains Ground

*Click here to skip to the awards video.

Our third Hack Week yielded 30 (!) projects (up from 17 earlier this year) that were featured in a 4-hour extravaganza of engineering and programming ingenuity. (You know you’re at an engineering event when Albert and Neil morph a cardboard box into a microphone stand on the fly, thereby saving yours truly from an arm-tiring work-around to managing audio quality.)


This Hack Week added participants from two new locations (other than San Francisco and Seattle): Boulder and Malmo. The team-previously-known-as-Avail adds a refreshing perspective on the core recommendations business we know so well—and the team-previously-known-as-Precog introduced some new techniques in Haxe.


Production-quality demos and POCs as well as immediately deployable Dev/Ops/QA tools comprised the lion share of projects. Individuals and teams could work on anything related to our business or that would help them in their work. But quirky one-offs—from Diane’s Clojure consumer developer diary to Gaurav’s exhortation to adopt new technical skills (“Don’t get overwhelmed by theory … just write some code!”)—were much in evidence.

“Someone Just Asked Me for That This Morning”

Several projects will make the leap from drawing board to production sooner rather than later. The top three in this category were:

  1. Ravi’s method to scan properties on client sites automatically. Powered by multi-thread execution, this will allow us to automatically test our QA, dev, and production environments to ensure that all versions of our code are serving content on customer sites, saving us many hours of manual regression testing.
  2. Hardik’s “Simple Cache Search, which will be “fantastically useful for debugging.”
  3. Mariah, Derek, and Istvan’s “Optimizing Analytics Query by moving non-SQL Functionality to Hive UDFs.”


Below you will find a quick re-cap of our Hack Week highlights—from interesting team names to memorable quotes and a video reveal of our winners!

 Memorable Quotes

  • Zi Krostag: “Our existing tool is ugly.”
  • Danger Zone team member: “Just trust me, this feature exists!
  • Mariah (to Tharun): “What product were YOU trying to buy … that was keeping you up nights?”
  • Darren Sargent: “Impala kicked Hive’s ass!

“The Hack Week Project that Darren Sargent Didn’t Do

  • Wei Shung Chung: “Please reimburse me USD 41.81 for 1 hack week.” (RE: costs for running his project on AWS)
  • Brian McKenna: “… Murtaza said to [add clouds to] make it look pretty.”
  • Scott Carey (for Matt): “Just read this … and it’s on Confluence.”(RE: Matt’s really text-heavy Presto slide)
  • Ola Sandström: "A company without an API is like a computer without the internet.”

Best Team Names

  • Skånepojkarna ("Swedish Boys", or so Google Translate tells us)
  • Alchemy (“transmuting base data into gold”)
  • DataQuake
  • Opsticles

Non-Official Awards

  • Mariah Walton: most considerate about providing context for non-tech audience members
  • Ed (“I want Samba glow”) Hernandez: most technical follow-up questions
  • Gaurav and Diane: for being “short, sweet, and to the point!”

Special Thanks To

  • Judges: Sean Merry, Pascal Davis, Chris McCarthy, and Jonathan Lee
  • Hackers: Albert, Alissa, Brian, Chad Urso McDaniel, Craft, Darren Sargent, Derek, Diane Black, Erik, Franco, Gaurav, Giang, Hardik, Henrik Schinzel, Heping, Imig, Istvan, James Ralphs, Jim Osial, John Jensen, Jeremy Collins, Jörgen, Justin Mettle, Mani, Mariah, Matt (via Scott Carey), Murtaza, Neil, Ola, Pontus, Ravi, Raymund, Scott Imig, Sergey, Sukhendu, Tharun, Tim, Wei Shung, and Zi (Detailed info on all projects internal-only)

Local deals as {rr}Ads—a collaboration between Retail (Hardik Doshi,) and Ads (Mani Balasubramanian).

Tharun’s “Omni-channel Retailing: Proposed Solutions”

And the Winners Are…

Non-principled judges accepted Albert’s crumpled dollar bills but swore this didn’t affect outcomes for Flashiest, Geekiest, Best Demo, Raving Fan (what customers will love most), Unsung Hero (unflashy but highly useful), and—drum roll!—Best in Show.

Via video, here are the Hack Week Champions.

About :

Mike is responsible for the strategic planning, technical direction and guidance of the company’s suite of personalization solutions. During his time at RichRelevance, Mike grew his role within the engineering organization from individual contributor to team lead, director, and now VP of Engineering.

Mike brings over 15 years of operational, project management and technology leadership experience, from RichRelevance, as well as from previous engineering roles at Plumtree Software, BEA Systems and Fortis Forge.

As one of the co-founders of RichRelevance, Mike is strongly invested in preserving the company’s unique start-up culture throughout its growth and international expansion. He helped spearhead the internal RichCulture committee, whose mission is to outline, foster and maintain employee engagement with the company’s core values and culture.

Mike holds a BS in Symbolic Systems from Stanford University.

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