Hacking Together For a Better Future
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Terra Mrkulic
By Terra Mrkulic,
Social Media & Content Marketing Director


FreeWheel recently invited all of our employees to participate in the first annual FreeWheel Global Hackathon. From China to the UK to the US, employees around the world came together to rethink processes, examine procedures and get creative about solutions, not just as they relate to our products, but for the entire FreeWheel experience.


Hackathons have been gaining popularity as a way to drive product innovation since the mid-2000’s. Perhaps most famously Facebook’s now iconic ‘Like button’ was conceived in an internal Facebook hackathon.

As teams are immersed in the day-to-day routine supporting a company’s strategies, a hackathon gives creative minds an opportunity to step outside the box and explore their artistic technical talent.  Many great inventions originate outside of a company’s roadmap which is why hosting hackathons has become a part of the culture for many tech companies, and one we plan to organize annually.


Waleed Nasir, Christina Taylor and Shenjie Li working on their hackathon idea


FreeWheelers showed their enthusiasm from the very beginning when sharing their ingenious ideas. An online community was organized for participants to demonstrate these ideas and attract colleagues with similar interests to join forces with them. Not surprisingly, teams naturally came together in just a few days, across our offices in Beijing, New York, Silicon Valley, and London. In total, 185 FreeWheelers formed 47 hack entries from every corner of the business.

“As a company expands, it may begin to feel disconnected. The hackathon was a powerful reminder that we are an international union of nerds aligned on the same thing: making FreeWheel and the premium video industry better.” – Ben Pelcyger, Senior Business Analytics Manager, NYC

You never know the true potential of your colleagues unless you give them the opportunity to deviate from the status-quo and reach for the impossible. Hacking teams found common ground by brainstorming, strategizing, and collaborating. While working in full swing, teams encountered various obstacles that required going the extra mile… and beyond.



“I’m stunned by the potential of our teams, just by witnessing the creative ideas each team extracted from our product, data and workflow, also how fast everyone worked together to make it happen.” – Free Du, Vice President, Engineering R&D, NYC

Many of the hacks presented required a variety of talents and areas of expertise to be successful—all the more reason our hackathon teams, in order to be successful, needed to include people from various functional groups across the company. These efforts brought together employees that would otherwise rarely collaborate—a true effort in connecting FreeWheelers both to the mission of the company, our product, and each other.


“With over 180 participants, including members from engineers, TA, service, PM, marketing, bizops, HR, VP, SVPs, the success of this event indeed lived up to the Hackathon theme “We All Hack!” – Vito Leung, Vice President, Production Operations, Beijing

audience- 1

FreeWheelers waiting for winners to be announced in the Beijing Office


Nate Hackathon

“I appreciated the opportunity to spend some time with our co-workers in Beijing: getting to know them outside the day-to-day work environment and building something cool as well!” – Nate Rothstein, Senior Analyst, Business Operations, NYC pictured above with his hackathon teammates: (left to right) Rongjian Song, Ning Zhang, Yue Yu, and Dandan Jia

A panel of judges awarded the top prize to a team that created a solution that will enable our staff to check the server status 24/7 from mobile including an alert sent to relevant team members whenever our service needs attention. This hack will result in providing even shorter response times and facilitate our engineers’ daily work. But the real prize is one of connection and collaboration. The relationships made during the hackathon will carry over in the day to day work of all employees who participated.

Yang Li

“It was a great experience to work with a group of geniuses and turn an idea into reality in crazy 24 hours, with all of your focus, energy and passion!” – Yang Li, Vice President Engineering, Beijing

See more images from the day:

Hackathon collage2





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