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InfoQ Homepage News Hack.Summit() 2016 Announced

Hack.Summit() 2016 Announced

Following on from the successful hack.summit() which ran in December 2014, HackHands founder Ed Roman has announced the second event will be held in February 2016.  The original event (reported on InfoQ here) had over 64000 virtual attendees and raised over $50000 for a variety of charities including Women Who Code, Black Girls Code and  

InfoQ spoke to Ed Roman about the plans for the 2016 event:

InfoQ: What is the purpose of the hack.summit() event?

hack.summit() is a virtual event which unites the world’s most renowned programming language creators, open-source contributors, and thought leaders to raise money for nonprofits in the programming space.  It takes place the week of February 22, 2015 and is 100% online. The website for the event is

The hack.summit() mission is to raise money for coding non-profits such as, Women Who Code, and Black Girls Code.  All ticket sales go to coding non-profits. 

Last year’s hack.summit() had 64,000 developers register, making the largest virtual conference ever created, and the largest programming conference ever created (physical or virtual).

InfoQ: What’s unique about this event?

hack.summit() was created in 2014 as an experiment in virtual conferences.  Up until now, there hasn't been a really strong success for a virtual conference.  Early attempts tried to mimic the real world via 3D virtual worlds, which caused sluggishness and browser compatibility issues.  We researched this and realized that none of this technology was necessary, and what people really wanted was to learn from speakers in a video-chat environment.  So we embarked to create this event.

For us, it's important that any initiative we undertake also has a social entrepreneurship element.  So this event became a fundraiser for non-profits in the coding space, many of whom combat diversity issues among programmers.

We also wanted this event to be accessible -- so instead of charging for tickets, it's an optional donation of the amount of your choosing to a coding non-profit of your choice.  Those who are not in a position to donate can pay with a tweet to help us find more donors.  So this event is available to both the rich and poor. 

At first, we were hoping to line-up 5,000 attendees.  But that quickly soared and we ended up with 64,000, making this the largest programmer event ever held (larger than all of Microsoft's conferences combined).  We were shocked at those results and now believe that virtual events are our future.  It also shows that a social mission for-good can have tremendous results.

InfoQ: Who are some of the speakers you have lined up for the event in February, and what will they be talking on?

We're keeping the speaker list invite-only.  It's the top computer science contributors in the world, such as David Heinemeier Hansson (creator of Ruby on Rails), Orion Henry (founder of Heroku), Nathan Marz (creator of Apache Storm), Kent Beck (creator Extreme Programming, co-created Agile, author of 9 books), Tom Chi (creator of Google Glass), Rebecca Parsons (CTO of ThoughtWorks), Yehuda Katz (creator of Ember.js), Brian Fox (creator of the GNU Bash Shell), Jon Skeet (#1 answerer on StackOverflow), Dries Buyataert (creator of the Drupal programming language), Qi Lu (EVP at Microsoft), Rod Vagg (Node.js Technical Chair and Core Committer), Sarah Allen (Co-creator of After Effects, Flash video, recent Presidential Innovation Fellow) and many more.  It's an all-star list of keynote-only level speakers -- and is unprecedented at programmer events, only made possible by the virtue of this event being pure virtual and not requiring travel.

Developers will be educated on a variety of software engineering, open source, web, and mobile programming concepts from the leaders in our industry.  This is truly a broad event where everyone will have something to learn.  No specific experience is needed, although the event is targeted most closely to IT professionals and engineers.

InfoQ: What is the format for the event – how do people participate and engage?

The event runs during daytime hours PST.  There is a single track, since each speaker is keynote-level, and deserves the full audience's attention.  Audience members can participate by asking questions of the speaker, interacting with other audience members via text-chat, and answering polls that the speaker asks the audience.  Occasionally we may also bring audience members on-camera to participate via video chat with the speaker.

InfoQ: How many people can the event cope with, how many registrations can you accept?

There is a theoretically unlimited number of simultaneous attendees.  At least year's event, our largest session had over 18,000 simultaneous participants.  We're hoping to shatter that record at the upcoming event.

InfoQ: What technology will you use to enable such a large audience?

We partnered with which provides the virtual conferencing technology.  We helped incubate that startup since there was no good technology solution for this prior to Crowdcast.  At the time, Crowdcast was a 1-man company, and scaled to handle our event.  Which is pretty unbelievable and speaks to the technical genius of its founder.

InfoQ: How is the event funded, and where do the funds go?

All ticket sales go to our non-profit partners.  The event is brought to you by Pluralsight, which provides online developer education.  The mission of hack.summit() dovetails nicely with Pluralsight's mission of online developer education, and so Pluralsight is a natural choice to be the corporate steward behind the event.

InfoQ: Please tell us about the hack.pledge().  How many people have taken the pledge and how is it making a difference?

hack.pledge() ( is a movement for developers to mentor each other for 1 hour to help improve the quality of software around the world.  By mentoring each other in our hour of need, we can help increase the quality and speed of software development worldwide and help each other master the craft of software development.  There is no financial business model behind hack.pledge() -- it is a movement.  We subsidize the infrastructure costs of connecting mentors and mentees.  Over 11,000 developers have signed the pledge, including creators of programming languages and major tech companies.

InfoQ: Tell us about the virtual hackathon occuring at hack.summit().

Last year, Koding created the world's largest global virtual hackathon, and it was a tremendous success. They've been inspired by our mission at the hack.summit() for non-profit work, and have agreed to contribute this year’s virtual hackathon to hack.summit(). Together, we are working to make these events the largest virtual gathering of software developers ever. The combined event will not only allow developers to hear directly from the world’s leading software developers (e.g xxxx), it will also allow developers to compete for a grand prize of $100,000 and raise money for coding non-profits. The hackathon will take place on Feb 20-21 2016 and winners will be announced live at the end of hack.summit() making it a truly grand finale to an extraordinary event. Registrations for the hackathon are now open.


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