We spent quite a bit of time yesterday in USV's regular monday meeting talking about hackdays. I had attended Music Hack Day at General Assembly on Sunday and was inspired by all the amazing hacks (72 in all) that I saw there.
These 72 hacks were built over a 24 hour period between early saturday afternoon and sunday afternoon. Like all hacks, very few, if any, were fully polished products, but they showcased new ideas, new directions, new technologies, and most importantly the talents of the hackers. I was like a kid in a candy store.
As I sat there and watched hack after hack present, I started counting up all the free publicly available resources that were being used; MongoDB, JSON, jQuery, Ruby, Django, SproutCore, AppEngine, Soundcloud API, Last.fm API, Spotify API, Twilio API, Twitter API, etc, etc, etc). There were literally hundreds of these resources that the hackers were using to put together ther projects.
General Assembly is an excellent phrase to describe what was going on. It is also a great place to do a hack day. Our new USV offices will be perfect for that as well.
And so we talked yesterday about how to get more of this kind of thing happening. We know that our portfolio companies like Foursquare, Twilio, Etsy, and Twitter are sponsoring hack days like this. Foursquare's hackday is this coming weekend at General Assembly.
We hope to see more of our portfolio companies doing this. But we also recognize that hacking in specific verticals (like music) is a great idea. We'd love to see a Education Hack Day (Hacking Education for real), an Art Hack Day, a Robotics Hack Day, a Big Data Hack Day, and so on and so forth.
There's a great group in NYC called nyhacker.org. We hope we can leverage their network as well as locations like General Assembly and other coworking spaces around NYC to activate the hacker community in specific verticals to do more of this. It's so much fun and so important too.
I'll end this post with the Music Hack Day theme song, courtesy of the Soundcloud guys: