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eBay Hack Week: Inventors from Across the Globe Accelerate New Ideas

By: Kendall Fields, eBay News Team

Employees put their main job responsibilities on pause to focus on innovations that could disrupt ecommerce.

At the heart of eBay’s culture is a spirit of inventiveness and a desire to push boundaries. For more than two decades, this innovation has helped drive our success and is core to our strategy. Each year, eBay Innovation Programs holds Hack Week to cultivate fresh ideas. Employees around the world can take a pause from their regular jobs to focus exclusively on brainstorming concepts and building them out.

The annual program pairs inventors from across organizations and matches them with mentors and sponsors from around the company to give them real-time insights and feedback as they aim to disrupt ecommerce.

“Hack Week last year delivered 268 working prototypes in just four days, and is poised to deliver similar results this year,” said Sergio Gonzales, Head of Innovation Programs. “It’s one of my favorite times of the year on our campuses,” he added. “When you see so many of your colleagues smiling ear to ear, brimming with pride in the work we do, and standing taller because they feel empowered to create change for our customers, you can’t help but feel that same fire and passion for the work that you’re doing.”

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The program has expanded over the years with an increasing number of teams participating, Sergio noted, adding that there are more teams collaborating from various organizations and domains as well as locations. “When you bring cross-organization and cross-location collaboration together—inclusion and collaboration—we see more concepts that are sharply focused on creating value for our customers.”

About 1,600 inventors participated in Hack Week at 12 locations globally this year. They worked on brainstorming ideas with over 200 mentors, subject matter experts, volunteers and local innovation champions offering insight and feedback. The program has paved the way for numerous ideas and applications that are now live in our marketplace, including our AI-powered visual search tool, Image Search.

The inclusive format of the week fosters an atmosphere that sparks creative thinking

In describing the importance of Hack Week, Helen Kim, Vice President for Business Operations of Product & Technology, said that it allows employees “to come up with solutions in other areas of the business and in doing so, it promotes collaboration across the organizations.”

The inclusive format of the week fosters an atmosphere that sparks creative thinking.“Teams branch out of their comfort zones and explore areas that they might not otherwise have an opportunity to explore. We don’t give them any constraints so they have the ability to really extend their imagination and pursue their passions which is what makes Hack Week special,” Helen said.

For participants, it’s an important message that not only do we care about bright ideas, but prioritize them in a way that is meaningful for our employees. “It is a testament to our leadership’s willingness to invest in innovation,” Senior Software Engineer Ethan Rubinson said. His team won an Excellence in Innovation Award in 2015.

“Hack Week is unique in the sense that it provides our talented inventors an opportunity to explore new technologies and develop ideas they are passionate about while shaping eBay's future in the process,” he added.

Over the next few months, local innovation champions will have the chance to further develop their ideas leading up to our annual Innovation Expo in the fall.  

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