On the Commercialization of Hackathons
I remember my first hackathon like it was yesterday. Roughly ten people, plus organizers and mentors, crammed in a single room of UCLA’s Boelter Hall. Fueled by pizza, coffee, and In-N-Out, the two teams (there were too few people to form any more) hammered out some of the worst code that has ever had the misfortune to grace the earth.
But hey, it worked.
As time went on, the hackathons I attended grew increasingly extravagant. Sponsorship went from a few pieces of swag distributed at the event’s conclusion to all-out massive gatherings of tech companies, each trying to get hackers to use their respective APIs. So too did the names of those companies grow more prominent: Riot, Venmo, Bloomberg, Facebook.
PennApps was an incomprehensibly massive affair compared to SS12 so...