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 infrastructure, 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 conference.

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 categories, 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 form, with the entry period open until September 15, 2013.

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 Chaos.

Photo by Michael Jastremski.

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