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Ready, Set, Innovate! Hack Week Ushers in Imaginative Employee Projects

By: Sebastian Rupley and Adam Kohler, eBay News Team

Employees set aside their usual responsibilities to focus exclusively on innovative projects and concepts.

Throughout eBay’s nearly 22-year history, innovation has remained central to the company’s success, and its strategy. With innovation in mind, our third annual eBay Hack Week just wrapped, featuring employee teams from offices around the world.  The teams spent a week focusing exclusively on creating, inspiring, and showing their own projects to mentors and sponsors from around the company.

Hack Week is one of our signature events within the Innovation Programs at eBay. These programs have given birth to numerous applications and tools that are now important parts of our product portfolio.  As just one example, the idea for the eBay Mobile app was born at one of our internal innovation events.

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 “In just its third year, Hack Week has quickly become one of our most impactful opportunities to drive innovation,” said Sergio Gonzales, Head of Innovation Programs.  “During Hack Week, inventors across functions, locations, and lines of business put aside their planned work to pursue innovative ideas and emerging technologies that inspire them.  Last year, after just four days of hacking, our inventors produced 219 working prototypes.  This year, they delivered 263 of them.”

Jon Bach, Senior PM for Customer Contact Reduction, worked on two innovative projects at Hack Week. “The great thing about Hack Week is that all the way up the management team, leaders have said it’s okay to take time out and work together on ideas, without interruptions,” Bach said. “I love that we sanction that, and that many of the ideas here can improve life at eBay.”

In addition to developing their own projects, Hack Week participants were invited to participate in a coding challenge, featuring prizes for the top coders. And, leaders, including eBay CEO Devin Wenig, visited and addressed employees. “This is about freeing up people’s capacities and minds to innovate,” he said, “and it’s about creating a culture where that is a regular part of what we do.”

Notably, Hack Week is not just for technologists. “You might be surprised to hear that more than 20 percent of our inventors are in non-technical disciplines,” said Gonzales. “That’s because not all innovations require a software solution, and even those that do benefit greatly from cross-disciplinary expertise.”

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“Hack Week is at the center of our culture as a technology company,” said Chief Product Officer RJ Pittman. “We get a week here to stretch our minds and push some big ideas along. The quality of the projects we’re seeing at Hack Week just keep getting better and better, and the problems we’re trying to solve keep getting more meaningful.”

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