After giving the top, million dollar prize in a recent hackathon to a former employee and blatant cheater, Salesforce is apologizing the only way it knows how: with lots and lots of cash and stupidity.
Marc Benioff is going to strain something by trying to contort reality this far: history will be revised, a tie retroactively declared, and hush money doled out. But perhaps most importantly, the enormous software company isn't going to admit it fucked up with the self-proclaimed largest hackathon prize in history—clear favoritism and mismanagement will be smoothed over with a publicist smokescreen and a big dollar sign:
After completing an internal review of the competition, salesforce.com determined that the winning teams met eligibility requirements, but that final round judges may not have been provided with enough information to evaluate final round entrants' use of pre-existing code contained in their app entries. As a result, salesforce.com has awarded the top two developer teams with the grand prize of $1 million each.
Emphasis added, because the emphasized portion is a triumph in corporate PR distraction. What does it mean? What sort of information would they need? Why weren't they provided with the information? How does this not invalidate the results entirely?
No word on any of this—Salesforce declined to talk to me about its internal review process—or why a former, prominent employee was allowed to participate to begin with, or why his preexisting project was allowed in the competition in clear violation of the hackathon rules. We do now know, however, that the judges included current Salesforce employees (who presumably knew the winner personally), "trained" for only 90 minutes on evaluation standards.
But at least this way, everyone wins—everyone except every other participant in the contest, which wasted its time in a completely crooked competition. With a $30 billion market cap, why not just give every single team a million bucks? Or at least a free Salesforce polo.