HackerRank: A Social Site For Hackers, Complete With Challenging Launch Page

If you’re a startup aficionado, you may be getting tired of the same old launch pages. You know, the ones with a big, splashy image, a message about how something awesome is coming soon, and a box where you can enter your email address. If that’s the case, then you’ll probably get a kick out of the sign-up process at HackerRank.

The team behind the site plans to start sending out beta invites next week for “a fun social platform for hackers to solve interesting puzzles, build quick hacks, code game bots and collaborate to solve real-world challenges.” In the meantime, it’s doing something a little different with the launch page — the page features an interactive terminal, where, yes, you enter your name and email address, but then you’re invited to participate in a sample challenge, facing off with the computer in a candy-grabbing game.

There’s no coding required, just a taste for logical puzzles — and clearly some users have that taste, since the leaderboard shows players who have won the game more than 1,000 times. (I got a bit hooked this morning, but sadly I’ve only won twice.)

HackerRank comes from the same Y Combinator-backed company that’s behind InterviewStreet, which holds CodeSprints for programmers can solve coding challenges and earn the attention of potential employers. Co-founder Vivek Ravisankar says he realized that there was an opportunity to “build something bigger” here, because programmers weren’t coming to the site just to get a job. They were having fun too, as indicated by the fact that they were spending an average of two hours on the site. So the team decided to build something more fun and social, where programmers solve challenges, collaborate, and see how they rank.

Ravisankar emphasizes that HackerRank is going to be very different from InterviewStreet: “It’s not going to be a jobs site.” The only way companies are supposed to get involved is by providing data sets and problems. (Y Combinator backed another hacker ranking startup called Coderwall, but Coderwall’s more about aggregating accomplishments from other sites, not providing the challenges itself, and its planned business model will be related to recruiting.)

Oh, and if TechCrunch readers want to be among of the first to join, you can send an email to ilovetc@hackerrank.com with your biggest hack, and the 50 most interesting ones will get access next week.