Two Harvard University Alum Win Disputed Salesforce $1M Hackathon Prize At Dreamforce [Updated]

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Two developers who met at Harvard University 15 years ago are the winners of the Salesforce.com $1 million hackathon for its service to create mobile reports for sales people using the Salesforce.com platform.

The app, called Upshot, was developed by Thom Kim and Joseph Turian. The service parses data in plain English, connects via API and then presents results for the smartphone or tablet user.

Users can also use Google’s voice capability to do queries.

[Editor’s note: This post originally left out the fact that at least one person on the winning team had previously been a long-time Salesforce employee.

This was disclosed onstage, and  the author self-disclosed as a hackathon judge at the end of this post.

This was a serious omission, and we’ve updated the post. Salesforce also provided the five finalists for the judges, and didn’t disclose that the app had been live for many months — normally hackathons don’t allow that.

Salesforce has explained its side of the story in this blog post. One of the participants, Alicia Liu, has blogged about her disappointment with the experience here.]

The other winners were:

  • Healthcare.love came in second and won $50,000 for its service for helping people choose a health plan.
  • The $25,000 third prize went to Hirebase, a service that allows to highlight resumes with different colors and annotations.
  • The fourth place $10,000 prize went to Salesfetch, a service for finding information across different services to get a full picture of the lead.
  • And the $5,000 fifth prize was awarded to 2lemetry for its service that detects the identity and background of people as they approach a trade booth The service uses Raspberry Pi and a low power bluetooth device to make the detections.

Kim and Turian did a demo that showed an app that allows for reports to be created with drill downs on specific information points. Queries can be done on the fly by inputting into the mobile device or by Google Voice. 20131121_155409

The hackathon began Monday with the start of the Dreamforce event. Dozens of teams participated. The teams were judged on their innovation, the customer experience, its business value and use of the Salesforce platform. As a disclosure, I was one of the hackathon judges.