The ’flix Factor

$10k prizes up for grabs in Netflix cloud contest

Elliot Bentley

Video streaming giant challenges developers to “build something cool” in return for cash, AWS vouchers and conference tickets.

Netflix have launched a competition
to find the next big piece of software in the cloud space, with
$150,000 worth of prizes up for grabs.

The task is to “build something cool”, either a “standalone program
or a patch for one of our open source projects”, wrote Netflix
director of architecture Adrian Crockcroft.

“For example, perhaps you have a way to improve the Netflix
Graph with a
new data structure. Write a new Monkey in any language you want.
Rewrite the entire platform in Erlang. Pretty much any addition or
extension will be considered!”

Netflix are famed for both open-sourcing their bespoke cloud
, and for hosting it on Amazon Web Services, who
appear deeply involved in the contest: in addition to a $10,000
cash prize, each of the ten winners will receive $5,000 worth in
credits for AWS and a ticket to October’s Amazon re:Invent

Amazon CTO Werner Vogels will also serve on the judging panel
alongside Thoughtworks Chief Scientist Martin Fowler and Netflix
Cloud VP Yury Izrailevsky.

Entries will be judged as one of ten
, which include “Best Example Application Mash-Up”,
“Best Portability Enhancement” and the brilliantly-titled “Best New
Monkey”. Those interested in entering must fork the Cloud Prize repository
and fill out a MailChimp
, with the entry period open until September 15,

Cynics might describe the prize as a positive PR move designed to
counter the bad press generated by the recent decision to
effectively close the public Netflix API

However, it’s far from the first time Netflix have reached out for
collaboration support. In 2006, it offered $1,000,000 dollars to
anyone who could write a better movie recommendation algorithm,
which was
eventually claimed in 2009
by a team called BellKor’s Pragmatic

Photo by Michael

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