Salesforce responds to hackathon controversy by awarding $1M to the runner-up

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Salesforce is a responding to the controversy over its hackathon like an absent parent: by showering the runner-up team with cash prizes.

Last week, the cloud computing firm came under attack from developers, who claimed that the hackathon was rigged. The prize for the winning team was $1 million, the largest sum ever awarded in a hackathon.

Salesforce says it is taking these accusations seriously and has launched a full investigation. After digging into the winning apps for several days, the company announced in a press release today that the runner-up,, also deserves to win $1 million along with the winner, Upshot.

Salesforce declared the competition a tie and did not concede that any of the finalists had cheated.

Thomas Kim, one of the engineers behind the winning submission, Upshot, appears to have demoed the app on Oct. 8 at a Salesforce meetup. But the hackathon rules state that teams can start work on their apps on Oct. 25. On community forums like Reddit and Hacker News, developers said Upshot appeared far too polished given the time constraints. Commenters also pointed out that Kim previously worked at Salesforce, which may have given him an unfair advantage.

Marc Benioff, Salesforce’s chief executive and a longtime programmer, tweeted his assurances that the company would look into the matter. Salesforce issued an apology post earlier today, explaining that they “weren’t clear enough with the final round judges about the use of pre-existing code.” Developer relations evangelist Adam Seligman also emailed participants in the hackathon, admitting that they should have been more transparent about the rules.

The Salesforce1 Hackathon was hosted at Dreamforce, and more than 4,500 developers registered to build mobile applications on Salesforce’s platform.

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