The Spirit of Hack Day

Two weeks ago, Yahoo held its quarterly internal hack day. Today Yahoo! holds its first Open Hack Day.

The first I ever heard about a hack day was from Ken and the Jotspot guys. They had a hack day to have some fun and work on something that wasn’t on their normal “to-do list”. It was a great idea to innovate and give the team a breather from the day-to-day. As most people know by now, Yahoo took up the idea and now we’re sharing it with the world.

I sat in the audience for this last internal hack day. Of course I was impressed with all the amazing ideas and hacks I saw. Of course I saw tons of hacks that I thought could be integrated into real products. Of course some of these ideas showed real promise and could translate into real business value. But, I was much more amazed at the feeling in the air.

One of the best things that Chad, Caterina and Leonard have created is a feeling that everyone’s ideas have a place and everyone’s work deserves to be shared. Hack Day is a forum to share your ideas with a large audience and in front of Yahoo execs (this hack day was judged by Jerry Yang, a few SVPs, Sue Decker our CFO and a few other rockstar Yahoos). You could tell that all the people in the room were stoked to be sharing their ideas. But people in the room were also stoked to be seeing other Yahoos work. Everyone was supportive of their peers and I think everyone went back to their day jobs better off for it. The HAck Day team is making every Yahoo more innovative.

Now, in just a few hours, we’re starting Open Hack Day. Hundreds of developers from all over are coming to camp out on Yahoo’s campus and to hack using Yahoo APIs from YDN. Just like our internal hack days, I expect to see lots of great hacks. But I’m most excited to see that feeling in the air. The day starts with sessions about how to use our APIs, then people get settled in, then awesome entertainment and the hacking begins. The presentations take place on Saturday afternoon and I look forward to seeing people from different companies (sometimes competitors of each other) creating that supportive space – that feeling in the air.

If you’ll be here, please come up to me and say hi, and happy hacking. Let’s make it a place where everyone gets to shine.

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