Hackathons are dead. Introducing Code in the Dark.

Hackathons are dead. Introducing Code in the Dark.

Code In the Dark

Let’s face it. Hackathons suck. I’ve been to about a dozen of them, as a developer, as a mentor, as a jury member, and as press. Here’s what I’ve noticed.

Developers just want to code, but they have to pitch a business at the end. Juries just want to meet developers, but they get stuck with some B-School student talking about viral engagement and the mobile revolution. And Sponsors – well, Sponsors, after a weekend of hocking your company, you get the stiff reward of knowing that the 3rd place winner and the runner up for best UX used your API. Congratulations.

I’d been waiting for quite some time for an event that I would feel proud to organize for developers when I met the guys at TicTail, a platform that allows anyone to build an eCommerce store in minutes. CTO Siavesh Ghorbani showed me the following video – it feels like a combination of that one scene from the Social Network & a night club party – and that’s exactly what I wanted.

The rules are simple

  1. Each round lasts 15 minutes, and is between 5 to 10 developers.
  2. All developers in each round are given the same screenshot of a website (e.g: Pinterest.com), and must recreate it to the best of their ability in HTML & CSS
  3. No code completion tools, no compiling your code before 15 minutes.
  4. All screens are mirrored so that the audience can watch and alert any rule-breaking.
  5. The winner will be chosen by audience applause (so bring your friends!)

Code in the Dark is an opportunity to put developer skills in the forefront of the event. Coders show off their coding skills & attendees get to be the jury. We’ll supply drinks all night long, as well as food. And the winners will receive epic prizes (to be announced in the coming weeks). We’ve got room enough for 300 people (we’ll be announcing the venue soon – you’re gonna love it!), and we’re looking to fill it up.

This is NOT a hackathon. You will not sit in a corner for two days. This is a social event. We will have music being played all night, and whether you’re participating or not, you’ll always have something to do, whether it be cheering your favorite coder or judging at the end of each round or face-down in a code sprint.


Startups: Send your Devs and show off the talent you’ve got underneath the hood.

Freelancers: Nothing brings in new clients like outcoding 100+ developers.

Students: Get the attention your skills deserve and you’ll have your choice of companies to work for.

We’ve lined up some great people to worth with on this event, none the least of which is Tictail. If you’d like to get involved with the event, email me directly at [email protected]

4 Responses

  1. Tom

    Reading your article, it seems that you’re saying coding == web design. I hope there is more to code than html and css… or maybe we should call this category differently: cs guys, algorithmitians, …. ?

    And you seems to see more fun and value in copying web-sites (90% of which are based on twitter bootstrap) than participating to hackathons where people try to create NEW products/applications and sometimes to address real-life problems.

    In the “social network” movie, Harvard students had to face-off on cs problems while drinking shots to get a spot in FB. This sounded much more fun. Why doesn’t someone organize that instead?

  2. Matt

    I was thinking the same – as if you may have missed the point of Hackathons, maybe you just attended the wrong ones? Take a look e.g. at PayPals Battle Hack, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQ6dYNG0OIA.

    Watching people recreating sites with HTML and CSS sounds pretty boring to me. Building a whole product in a very short time (where web design is just a little part of a much bigger picture), based on an original idea in the best case, is much more challenging and enviable IMHO.

    No offense, I’m sure there’s an audience for your gig, but it’s definitely nothing to declare Hackathons dead.

  3. Ce complot mondial des hackathons | I'm CTO bitch!

    […] ami Liam a récemment jeté un pavé dans la mare avec ce billet au sujet des hackathons et introduisant son nouveau concept de coding in the […]

  4. James

    HTML & CSS are markup languages, not programming languages. It’s not coding when dealing with markup.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.