Showing posts tagged Oakland
If there’s one thing we’ve learned about our Hackathons, it’s that each one yields different results—and this, our third one, is no exception.
Our first ‘thon gave us Pollroll, which is, well, rolling along nicely. Our second one gave us one concept that we’re bringing to Twitter, and another that’s already improved our improved our database-query times by 50X.
This time, organizers Nick McCann and Alisa Barnes raised the stakes yet again. For our Summer 2012 Hackathon, our eighty participants not only hacked products, they also explored ways to improve their presentation skills.
To help teams focus their ideas, this ‘thon had a theme: social media. After all, our users and partners continue to use social media tools. As a business, we’re continually looking for ways to incorporate social media in the work we do. Hence, the desire to come up with ideas that build on our existing offerings.
“I’m really excited to see what we get out of this (Hackathon),” Alisa told me. “I’m expecting it to impact our product roadmap significantly.”
The Art of the Pitch
Not everyone is comfortable with presenting in front of a group, so Eve Chaurand-Fraser, our VP of Business Development and General Counsel, offered our hacker teams “pitch workshops” to hone their skills. “We didn’t want great ideas to slip through the cracks based on the presentation alone — not everyone does this sort of thing for their job,” Eve explained. “I wanted to level the playing field.”
Hacking for the Prize
Thursday’s hacking went on behind closed doors and on the occasional cubicle island. Friday began with presentations from all ten teams. With lunch came the judging, and by 1:30 PM, we had our winner: Team OMGCLICK with an idea that involved a content indexing system and an in-house tool that would let Ask Editors assemble hilarious and/or fascinating content into easily shareable (dare we hope “viral?”) galleries and collections. The victors received iPods and Jamboxes — and trophies, of course. But everyone received experience — in pitching, in product creation and in thinking about social media. Believe us; you’ll see more of that from us in the future.
—Ken Grobe, Ask.com
Ask.com joined forces with Code for Oakland this past weekend to build the best ideas for apps to help support economic development in Oakland, improve civic engagement, and provide tools to attract and sustain local businesses. 12 teams hacked away and came up with a variety of ideas addressing the needs of Oakland’s diverse community. Would an app to test low income kids for kindergarten readiness make the cut? How about an app designed to help disabled members of the community look for jobs??
But alas, only one team could be crowned the winner and Hack the Budget: Oakland was the victor!
Hack the Budget: Oakland aims to turn Oakland’s budgeting documents into something citizens can easily read, understand and most important, act on in the polls! The team earned a $1,000 cash prize along with an amazing support package to help the team complete the app, develop a business plan, marketing strategy and to help prepare the product for a full launch!
The team will be working to finalize the application over the next few weeks. Congratulations to all the participants and the Hack the Budget: Oakland team!
What does the Ask team do on a rainy day? Play with floating sharks of course!
From where I’m sitting, this has been quite a memorable week. Same for you? We at Ask have the finger on the nation’s pulse, since everything that happens tends to show up as questions on our site. It’s really kind of cool to look at the world through questions.
Well, first we started the week off with the latest gay celebrity to come out, Zachary Quinto. We’re proud of him, and updated our official answer to the popular question:
Is Zachary Quinto gay? (by the way, did you notice how some other sites are still unsure?)
Then, of course the infamous Harold Camping made a new prediction for the end of the world. Which is today. Cross fingers! We did pay him a little tribute, with all due non-seriosity:
Yesterday, the Hayward Fault under Oakland, where Ask is headquartered, started shaking. Nobody was hurt, but we all asked ourselves: Can we predict earthquakes?
But the week (assuming the world isn’t actually ending today) otherwise finished on two high notes from the Middle East! Firstly, the 40 year dictatorship of Gadhafi finally comes to an inglorious end. But even more exciting, President Obama announced that he’s bringing our troops home from Iraq for the holidays.
And so here’s my personal favorite newly revised answer of the week:
Lastly, of course, we’re getting close to Halloween and, boy, do we get a lot of Halloween questions. Here are some of my favorites from the Q&A Community:
Actually, for that last one, I have a great answer from our wonderful celebrity Halloween expert Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. Check it out:
Robbie Waeschenfelder, Director, Marketing
Ask.com was honored to be one of the local businesses representing innovation at Oakland Mayor Jean Quan’s reception for the Women and Economy Summit at the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation Conference Friday night. Mayor Jean Quan and a committee of distinguished Oakland women leaders in exports, innovation, and education hosted more than 400 international delegates to the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation, as well as local representatives, at a City Hall reception on Friday, Sept. 16. The reception follows the three-day international APEC Summit for delegates of 21 Pacific Rim economies held in San Francisco.
Lisa Kavanaugh, Robbie Waeschenfelder and I managed a booth for Ask.com, handing out some awesome red baseball caps, touting Ask and networking with a few notables, including Pandora’s Jessica Steel, Executive Vice President of Business and Corporate Development. As we listened to Mayor Jean Quan, Governor Jerry Brown and others speak that night, we couldn’t help but feel very excited to be part of Oakland’s thriving community.
Angela Loeffler, SVP of People Operations
You know how some places have an image that everybody takes as a given, despite never really knowing why?
Well, when you look for notable quotes about Oakland, the one that comes first is the famous one from the even more famous Gertrude Stein: ”There is no there there.”
Whenever I mention that Ask.com’s Headquarter is in Oakland, I hear that phrase. Thanks for that, Gertrude. However, the funny thing is that Stein’s famous quote is actually very misattributed. See what happened was, the aging Stein came back on a lecture tour to Oakland in the 30’s and she looked for the house she grew up in. But when she got there, she couldn’t find the house. Her home was gone. Hence, there was no more there there. Look it up, it’s in her book “Everybody’s Autobiography”.
But whether she meant it or not, the phrase stuck. Nevertheless, even if she had meant it, it’s not true - here is why: Oakland has always been ‘busy’. First came the railroad, which required a port, which quickly became the largest on the West Coast and is still one of the busiest in the country. Shipping magnate Kaiser developed a worker medical system which turned into Kaiser Permanente, still headquartered here today. San Franciscoans fled to Oakland and never returned after the big earthquake in 1906 and worked in the massive Chrysler, Durant and Chevy factories. In fact, they called Oakland the “Detroit of the West” by the 1932.
Impressed? No? Here’s a different quote about Oakland for you: “The best restaurant in San Francisco is in Oakland”, wrote Herb Caen referring to Trader Vic’s which started here in 1932. Which is by the way where they invented the Mai Tai.
Oakland is a liberal and creative place, maybe that’s why artists like MC Hammer, Tupac Shakur and En Vogue, who all grew up here, went on to be huge successes. Need more? How about Clint Eastwood, Bruce Lee, Tom Hanks, Sidney Howard, Jack London and, of course, Gertrude Stein.
If that’s no “there”, then what is?
Robbie Waeschenfelder, Director, Brand Marketing