Hacks come to life

By now, hopefully you’re familiar with our Hack@Yahoo! program, where developers build cool tools or functionality on top of Yahoo! products. Maybe you attended or read about our “Open Hack Day” last September (does a free Beck concert on the Yahoo! lawn ring a bell?). Or perhaps you followed Hack Day London in July, “charming” weather and all.

These two “open” hack days were wildly successful, engaging many non-Yahoos throughout our developer community, but tonight I want to share with you some updates on innovations that have grown out of our internal hack days, which have been held quarterly in Yahoo! offices across the globe since 2005.

Internal Hack Days offer Yahoos a chance to take a break from their day-to-day to spend 24 hours hacking away at any creative idea that strikes their fancy. Thousands of Yahoos have joined in, creating thousands of hacks — some aimed at enhancing an existing product, some at introducing new concepts, and some just give us a good laugh.

During the events, engineers and non-engineers do more than just code the night away. They inevitably pick up tips and tricks from colleagues, collaborate across teams, and ingest an absurd amount of carbs.

While the main goal is to provide an outlet for people to express themselves, some hacks have made the journey from basic demo to product roadmap, and all the way to full-scale rollout. For example, Flight Planner for Messenger, Suggestion Board, and Car Finder all came out of Yahoo! Internal Hack Days.

And the list continues. Tonight, two more new products find their genesis from these hackathons:

  • Shop by ColorShop by Color, developed by Hayro Kolukisaoglu and Sundeep Tirumalareddy from Yahoo! Shopping, lets shoppers find products in the color they want by using a color palette of 56 different hues. The palette scans more than 10 million products in the Yahoo! Shopping catalogue, including apparel, beauty, home and garden, and electronics categories. Now remembering if the sweater you wanted was “Indigo” or “Royal Blue” is no longer an issue.
  • MapMixer MapMixer, developed by Yahoo! Travel engineer Nimit Maru, allows other maps to be layered over a Yahoo! Map to show additional detail of a location Now you can mix together the detail of a point-of-interest map — such as airports, college campuses, sports arenas, historic maps — with the web functionality offered by Yahoo! Maps. For example, a National Park Service map showing details of the Grand Canyon could be overlaid on our northern Arizona map to enable you to pan and zoom the area, focusing on hiking trails, the visitor’s center, or scenic overlooks important to you.

These are two excellent new functionalities that showcase the spirit of innovation that's alive and well throughout the Yahoo! community. I am excited to see what people come up with at our next internal Hack Day. And if you happen to be in India next month, you're invited to our Bangalore office's inaugural Open Hack Day on October 5-6. Register today!

Bradley Horowitz
Vice President, Advanced Development Division