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Salesforce Settles Hackathon Controversy by Declaring Tie
Salesforce Settles Hackathon Controversy by Declaring Tie

By Jennifer LeClaire
December 3, 2013 10:52AM

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Salesforce admitted it was unclear about rules for use of pre-existing code in its Hackathon. "As Salesforce is unable to determine whether or not this would have changed the outcome of the final round of judging," said Burke Norton, chief legal officer, "the company has concluded that the appropriate outcome is to declare a tie."
 



Salesforce is putting an end to the Hackathon drama. More than 4,500 developers registered to build next-generation mobile apps on the Salesforce1 platform during the Dreamforce '13 conference last month -- and one grand prize winner was supposed to take home a cool $1 million.

But controversy over the winning mobile app led the CRM company to conduct an internal review of the competition. The conclusion: Two teams won the Hackathon, but the final-round judges may not have been provided with enough information to evaluate entrants' use of pre-existing code in their app entries.

"We have also determined that we did not do a good enough job of communicating with the entrants about use of pre-existing code, which was allowable under certain circumstances, and that we weren't clear enough with the final-round judges about the use of pre-existing code," said Burke Norton, chief legal officer for Salesforce. "As Salesforce is unable to determine whether or not this would have changed the outcome of the final round of judging, the company has concluded that the appropriate outcome is to declare a tie and award each of our two top winners the first-place prize of $1 million."

Unraveling the Controversy

Here are the details: The Salesforce internal audit team conducted a review of the eligibility requirements and judging process used in the Hackathon. They concluded that the winning team, Upshot, met the Hackathon's eligibility requirements, and that the app they submitted adhered to the rules. While one of Upshot's team members was formerly employed by Salesforce, the rules only prohibited participation by former employees of Salesforce if they left the company after Aug. 31, 2013. The Upshot team member met the requirements.

What's more, while the Upshot mobile app used pre-existing code, this did not violate the Hackathon rules. Use of pre-existing code was allowable as long as the code did not comprise the majority of the app and did not violate any third party's rights. The internal audit team's review determined that Upshot's mobile app was created during the Hackathon and met these criteria. The review also determined that judges reviewed all eligible submissions.

Salesforce also reviewed a claim that entrants from Healthcare.love were ineligible to participate in the Hackathon because they are employed by a company in which Salesforce holds a small equity stake. The review determined that the entrants were eligible to participate because such investment is immaterial and Salesforce has no ability to control the referenced company. As a result, it is not a "Salesforce-related" entity under the rules. (continued...)

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Tell Us What You Think
Comment:

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anonymous:

Posted: 2013-12-11 @ 8:05am PT
That's not the end of the story. There's going to be a lawsuit. Everybody is just xeroxing their press release. They determined they could pick anyone who violated pretty simple rules.



Neustar, Inc. (NYSE: NSR) is a trusted, neutral provider of real-time information and analysis to the Internet, telecommunications, information services, financial services, retail, media and advertising sectors. Neustar applies its advanced, secure technologies in location, identification, and evaluation to help its customers promote and protect their businesses. More information is available at www.neustar.biz.


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