eBay Inc.’s Opportunity Hack: A Force for Good

eBay Inc. Staff

Encouraging employees to be a force for good is one of the core missions for eBay Inc.’s Social Innovation team, and the Opportunity Hack event is a great example of this. It is a hackathon for good, organized by a dedicated employee team who volunteered their time to bring it to fruition.

Over the past two weekends, more than 300 eBay Inc. employees, students and local professionals participated in teams for the hackathon.  The teams worked with local nonprofits, social enterprises and government entities to build solutions for real challenges that they encounter in their day-to-day operations. These solutions will enable the organizations to further their impact on the communities that they serve.

Opportunity Hack has grown from just one hackathon in San Jose, Calif. last year, to four hackathons now held in San Jose, Austin, Chennai and Bangalore.   More than 30 nonprofits have benefited so far, with even more to come at this year’s remaining event in Bangalore on November 8 and 9.

Winning projects from the three events already held ranged from creating an online donations portal for San Francisco Goodwill to creating an analytics dashboard to help the city of Chennai improve its educational system. The winning team in Austin worked on a solution to help increase awareness and raise funds to fight Ebola, which was very timely.

“It was amazing to see the employees, participants, and nonprofit leaders come together in a 36-hour timeframe and create some impressive solutions that will do things such as connect people with jobs, increase the number of children receiving a gift at the holidays, and further connect volunteers to the right events and projects where they are needed,” said Julie Vennewitz-Pierce, eBay Inc.’s Senior Manager, Philanthropy.

Putting Opportunity Hack together involved an impressive effort by a group of people from across eBay Inc., who took on the task outside their usual responsibilities. The core design team included employees from eBay, PayPal and the Social Innovation team, and an additional group of dedicated volunteers also chipped in to help pull off each of the events.

“It is inspiring to see how many people chose to spend a grueling 36 hours over a weekend away from school and work, going on minimal sleep, to help nonprofits.” said Prashanthi Ravanavarapu, who founded Opportunity Hack. “If the world is in the hands of such people who care about things beyond them, I know it will be a much better place. The same applies to everyone who helped put together the hackathons. They all did this in addition to having full time jobs, because they believe in the purpose of the work.”