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Facebook hackathon seeks cutting-edge features

The social network's regular frenzy of programming encourages Facebook employees to take risks, developing such things as chat and the 'like' button.

October 05, 2012|By Jessica Guynn, Los Angeles Times

Throughout the night, Facebook staffers all over campus collaborated and coded, mostly on mobile features designed to give Facebook a boost in its effort to reach users who more and more are accessing the service on mobile devices, not personal computers. A few worked on an evacuation tool that would track who was on campus and might need help in the event of a disaster, some even carved pumpkins. They refueled at long white tables loaded with egg rolls and other Chinese food from Jing Jing, the same Palo Alto restaurant that has been feeding hackathons for years.

As the sun rose, staffers nodded off on couches as the batteries on their laptops slowly died. The hackathon officially ended at 6 a.m. The prize for participating: a hackathon T-shirt.

Keyani went in search of a shower and a clean shirt. "It's all positive except for the level of productivity the next day," he said.

Seven hours later, Zuckerberg, fresh off his return flight from Russia, stepped onto a podium to hoots and high fives. He celebrated hitting 1 billion users, and then reminded everyone to focus on the challenges ahead.

Product designer Blaise DiPersia said he still hasn't quite processed the realization that the features his colleagues spent all night developing might soon reach one out of seven people on the planet.

"I can't really comprehend it," he said, shaking his head. "It's overwhelming."

Then he did what all Facebook employees do after clocking a new milestone. He went back to work.

jessica.guynn@latimes.com

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