Netflix Announces “Netflix Cloud Prize” Contest, Will Award Developers $10K Across 10 Categories For Improvements To Open Source Cloud Technologies

Netflix is announcing a new developer contest today called the “Netflix Cloud Prize,” which is promising prize money of $100,000 to those who improve the features, usability, quality, reliability and security of Netflix’s cloud computing services, hosted here on GitHub. The contest is open to anyone with their own GitHub account, and to participate, they only need to fork Netflix’s repository to get started.

The company explains the importance of its cloud computing infrastructure in a statement released today, saying that “every piece of the Netflix experience that members see when browsing TV shows and movies to stream on any device is delivered from the cloud.” Today, Netflix adds, over 33 million of its members benefit from Netflix’s cloud technology.

“We’re laying railroad tracks for cloud adoption and usage,” said Neil Hunt, chief product officer at Netflix, in a release. “The Netflix Cloud Prize is designed to improve understanding of what it takes to build native applications for the cloud that take full advantage of the opportunities for scalable computing.”


“Cloud,” of course, is really a generic term referring to the way computing resources are  delivered over the Internet, but in Netflix’s case, it refers to a wide collection of technologies, many of which Netflix open-sourced over months past in an effort to establish itself as a company that gives back to the developer community as a whole.

In November of last year, Netflix even gave its Open Source Center on GitHub a “Hollywood makeover,” where the technologies themselves – with names like Astyanax, Curator, Priam, CassJMeter, Servo and more – were displayed using thumbnail images, as if they were movies to watch on Netflix itself. (Some folks in the developer community didn’t care for the layout at the time, but it remains.)

It’s interesting that the cover for the “Cloud Prize” on GitHub shows a thumbnail that says “Children and Family” – given Netflix’s recent moves into social ahead of launching user profiles, hopefully this is a hint to the kind of improvements Netflix would like to see.

Developers interested in participating in the new Cloud Contest can read the rules here, but the process is fairly straightforward: fork the repo, send Netflix your email address, then modify your copy of the repo as your submission.

The Netflix Cloud Prize contest will run from March 13 to September 15, and winners will be announced in October, with prizes presented at the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Re:Invent conference in November. Netflix is dividing the prize in to 10 categories, each with a $10,000 award money attached. A panel of expert judges will make the final call. This group includes Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Werner Vogels, Thoughtworks Chief Scientist Martin Fowler, Strategist Simon Wardley, Telx Senior Vice President and author of Cloudonomics Joe Weinman, University of Aarhus Developer Training Expert Aino Corry and Netflix Cloud Vice President Yury Izrailevsky.

Netflix once famously held a contest called the “Netflix Prize,” which offered a much larger reward of $1 million to any developer team who could improve Netflix’s movie recommendation algorithm by 10 percent. Today’s Cloud Contest offers a much smaller payout, but one many will likely still attempt to earn.

More details are here on GitHub.