Salesforce.com Addresses Claims of Cheating at Dreamforce's $1 Million Hackathon

Controversy has erupted surrounding Salesforce.com's $1 million hackathon, held at Dreamforce last week. Two developers who won the prize have been accused of breaking the rules of the contest. According to the accusers, programmers entered an app that was already in the works long before the contest began.

The two winners, Thom Kim and Joseph Turian, submitted a voice-activated app called Upshot, which allows Salesforce users to generate reports by talking to their smartphones and asking the phone to create the report. The Hackathon rules allowed teams to start work on October 25, with the final coding to be completed live at Dreamforce, but some developers found evidence that Upshot team member Kim was publicly demonstrating the app to Salesforce.com users at a Meetup event on October 8.

Salesforce.com says it's reviewing the accusations but, for now, stands by the victors.

Adam Seligman, who leads Salesforce.com's developer relations, calls the entry "eligible." This is mainly because Salesforce.com told developers during the contest that it was acceptable to use older code in their app, Seligman explains. Participants were informed, however, that judges would be ignoring older code and only evaluating new features built after the contest began.

Still, Seligman says Salesforce.com is "conducting a thorough review of the final entries to ensure they complied with published rules and regulations."

Salesforce.com Chairman and CEO Marc Benioff echoed Seligman's sentiment. "We are doing a full review of the Hackathon. We always respond to feedback, and this will be no different. It must be a legitimate victory," Benioff tweeted. "We will address every issue raised by the community."

The million-dollar prize was the largest ever awarded for a hackathon.


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