The tech scene in LA has traditionally been an afterthought, at least compared to Silicon Valley. Last month, however, HackTECH showed that LA (a.k.a. "Silicon Beach") is a threat to be reckoned with. Billed as "the largest hackathon on the West Coast" and "the hackathon on the beach," the event brought together over 1200 top student programmers for 36 hours of hacking at the swanky Santa Monica Place outdoor mall steps away from the beach.
What's that you say? What's a hackathon? Sorry -- I got ahead of myself. To put it simply, hackathons are weekend coding competitions. They bring together top student "hackers" from universities across the country for one of the most high-energy weekends of their lives. Over the course of the weekend, attendees meet like-minded people, ship tons of code, learn about new technologies, occasionally nap and build awesome things. Eat. Code. Sleep. Repeat. Literally.
Hackathons are pushing the all-inclusive mentality on the west coast. Anyone can enter through the doors and be a hacker, computer scientist, innovator, whatever and leave feeling accomplished. More people. More hacking. More learning. You can come as a newbie and leave knowing how to make an app. Consequently, hackathons are more than just a congregation of techies loving to create things -- they have become talent farms. Big tech companies cannot ignore the value and volume of talent that congregates at these types of events.
HackTECH gave incredible exposure to LA's booming tech scene. Howard Marks, Paige Craig and Sam Teller, all prominent figures in the LA tech scene, were all in attendance. Leaders in the entertainment industry, Donald Glover (Rapper, Comedian, Actor on NBC's Community, Writer on NBC's 30 Rock), Jermaine Dupri and Mahbod Moghadan (co-founder of RapGenius), attended to address how tech is changing the entertainment industry. Other notable surprise celebrity guests included Evan Spiegel (CEO/founder of Snapchat), Alexis Ohanian (co-founder of Reddit), Justin Mateen and Sean Rad (co-founders of Tinder) and Michael Heyward (CEO/co-founder of Whisper).
With LA Hacks around the corner in April 11-13, it's looking like Silicon Beach will steal the spotlight for A-grade talent from Silicon Valley. Within just three days of opening registrations, LA Hacks already shattered 1,500 signups and is poised to be the largest hackathon in history. This unprecedented excitement around LA Hacks is due to it being hosted on the UCLA campus with opening and closing ceremonies in the iconic Pauley Pavilion, and to them being the final hackathon of this year's Major League Hacking Season.