National Engineers Week: FreeWheel Hacks the Future
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Song (Free) Du
By Song (Free) Du,
VP, Engineering

There is perhaps no more important day in FreeWheel’s event calendar than our annual Hackathon. Every year, FreeWheelers unite from around the globe, transcending geographic and departmental barriers, to collaborate, ideate and innovate new solutions that will propel The New TV Ecosystem forward.

Hack the Future

Our third annual 24-hour Hackathon, dubbed “Hack the Future,” was our biggest to date: 160 hackers in the U.S., Europe, and China organized themselves into 55 teams tasked to tackle real challenges we face on a daily basis: system unification and the convergence of our digital and linear tech stacks; building new systems to leverage cloud-based solutions for scalable tech; and the continuous improvement of our products, including the integration of disparate systems enabling our clients to better monetize premium video content. For example, one team’s project was to link multiple monitoring tools together, giving us deeper production insights and the ability to identify and respond to production issues proactively and more quickly.

The Secret Sauce to Winning

On the surface, the purpose of a Hackathon is obvious: to spark the innovation that enables FreeWheel to lead the evolution of the advertising industry. But the deeper value behind our Hackathon is the positive impact on our culture, resulting from the collaboration between peers who start the day as strangers and end as friends. A successful technology operation isn’t about the speed of programming, it’s about how a team communicates. As Diane Yu, FreeWheel Co-Founder and CTO points out, “Nothing can be built from a single individual’s effort.” The best technology is driven by the team that can most effectively collaborate towards one goal—and those skills are honed in the Hackathon. After all, in just 24 hours, individuals must form cross-functional teams, get to know each other, agree on a project, understand the direction of the group as a whole as well as individually, test the project, and prepare it for demo. Only teams that can quickly and efficiently communicate with one another will succeed.

Women Leaders in Tech

“Women in tech are never considered a novelty within our organization,” shared Claire Lu, Senior Director, Engineering in our Beijing office. With approximately 40% women employees on our engineering and product teams, the Hackathon is a proof point that FreeWheel women possess a vital voice in both our leadership and the development of our product and innovation. This year’s Hackathon coincided with our Beijing office’s annual “Wear it Pink Day,” which raises awareness for breast cancer and women’s health issues. The teams decided to turn the entire Hackathon pink as a tribute to the strength of our female engineers.

What’s Ahead

We look forward to pushing the boundaries of innovation even further later this year during our 2018 Hackathon as we continue to power the technology, data enablement, and convergent marketplaces required to ensure buyers and sellers can transact across all screens, across all data types, and all sales channels. Watch this video for more insights from the day and predictions for what’s to come.


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