Salesforce Adds $1M Prize in Disputed Hackathon

After review, company finds no flaw in contest

Cloud software platform Salesforce, following a review of its contest rules, awarded two top $1 million prizes in its hackathon, which had come under intense scrutiny after the original winner appeared to have violated guidelines.

Salesforce said today that it found no violations by the winning team Upshot’s app after the developers were accused of building their product well before the contest, allegedly in violation of the contest's rules. 

Still, the company said it would award another top prize, the new one going to an app

The healthcare app had been disputed as well—the developers were employed by a company in which Salesforce invested. The hackathon had been part of Salesforce's Dreamforce conference in San Francisco two weeks ago.

The pricey prize for the app contest was billed as the largest payout ever for a Silicon Valley hackathon. These events are typically held in a short window for the teams to create and build new products. The host companies, such as Salesforce, say that even the runners-up benefit from exposure and networking with industry heavyweights.

The developer of Upshot had shown off a similar app weeks before at an earlier Salesforce event, and other participants claimed it should be disqualified from the contest. One of the Upshot developers also worked for Salesforce in the past, leading to claims of favoritism.

After a public outcry against the competition, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff said there would be a review. The internal review, which was released today, said that neither Upshot or broke any rules. It was unclear if the results would satisfy the event’s detractors.

Salesforce also dismissed claims that some submissions to the contest weren’t even opened for proper judging. The company only said it should be more clear in its contest guidelines.