Why Hacking Matters: How to have a Hack Day at your Company or Organization

Moderated by:
Havi Hoffman (Mozilla )
Akiva Bamberger (Columbia University), Chad Dickerson (Etsy), Tarikh Korula (Uncommon Projects), Meghan Gill (10gen)
Location: New York West
Tags: startups
Average rating: ***..
(3.50, 8 ratings)

This panel will introduce the basic principles and benefits of hack days for participants and organizers: as way of inspiring innovation and cross-pollination of ideas within a company or organization, to foster collaborative problem-solving using open tools and platforms, or to raise awareness of an open offering, an issue or cause.

Participants will include hackers and expert hack day organizers and instigators, including: Havi Hoffman (moderator), who’s been doing internal and open hack days at Yahoo since 2005; Chad Dickerson, CTO, Etsy.com, father of Yahoo!’s hack program; Tarikh Korula, of Uncommon Projects, also a Hack Day winner; Akiva Bamberger, Columbia University student, president of Columbia University’s ACM chapter, and HackNY participant; and a fourth panelist, still to be confirmed.

We’ll cover the basic principles (“A hackathon has only two rules: the project has to be something cool and it couldn’t be something they’d normally work on.”) and some of the unintended outcomes (relationships, new hires, partnerships).

Havi Hoffman


Havi Hoffman is a long-time web writer, editor, content and event strategist, denizen of the internets, herder of hackers and cats, and steward of a backyard orchard in Silicon Valley.

She’s been at Yahoo! since the golden age of the silver surfer. These days she manages Yahoo! Press, our publishing partnership with O’Reilly Media, and heads a team that organizes hack days, publishes the Yahoo! Developer Network blog, tweets for @ydn, brings pizza and tools to barcamps and meetups, and generally tries to do the right thing for Yahoo! and the Open Web.

Photo of Akiva Bamberger

Akiva Bamberger

Columbia University

Akiva is a masters student at Columbia University studying computer science with a focus in machine learning. As an undergraduate at Columbia, Akiva worked as president of the Association for Computing Machinery and founder of the Application Development Initiative to make tech entrepreneurship a priority.

Akiva has also worked to involve undergraduates in the NY startup scene. As an organizer of hackNY, Akiva helped bring about NYC’s first NYC-wide intercollegiate, 24 hour hackathon. Together with some friends, his hacking efforts led to the creation of dropioke.com, a music aggregation site that leveraged the power of twitter and drop.io. Akiva received his B.A. from Columbia and is a former intern at Google and NASA.

Photo of Chad Dickerson

Chad Dickerson


Chad Dickerson is the CTO of Etsy. Previously he served as the Sr. Director Advanced Products for Yahoo.

Chad grew up in Greenville, NC and attended Duke University before working for Yahoo!. He held the CTO position at InfoWorld Media Group and was the Platform Evangelist at Yahoo before his current position.

Photo of Tarikh Korula

Tarikh Korula

Uncommon Projects

Tarikh Korula and Josh Rooke-ley are founding partners of Uncommon Projects, a New York based hardware and software design studio. Uncommon’s work includes product development and interactive marketing campaigns. Recent clients have included Yahoo, Hopelab and Panasonic. Tarikh holds a Masters in Interactive Telecommunications from NYU and has written for award winning publications including Punk Planet and Make Magazine. In 2002, he received a grant from the Media Alliance’s Independent Radio and Sound Art Fellowship and his sound work has been exhibited in Japan, France, China and at the New Museum in New York.

Photo of Meghan Gill

Meghan Gill


Meghan Gill leads the marketing and community development efforts at 10gen. 10gen began the open source MongoDB project, and provides commercial support, training, and consulting for Mongo. MongoDB is a high performance, non-relational, document-oriented database. At 10gen, Meghan organizes developer events to educate and grow the MongoDB community, including conferences, user groups, contests, training, webcasts, and more.

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Havi Hoffman
08/22/2010 8:01pm EDT

Check out Chad Dickerson’s weekend blog post on the magic of hack days, including a nice collection of links remembering hack days past.

Here’s a quote from Eric Raymond that’s always resonated for me, “The hacker mind-set is not confined to this software-hacker culture… you can find it at the highest levels of any science or art.”

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