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The 8th Annual Factual Hackathon

Each summer, Factual employees and interns are encouraged to spend 48 hours pushing the boundaries of creativity and code. Everyone — from engineers to account managers to marketing managers — is welcome to participate in the intense (but fun!) 2-day extravaganza that includes catered meals, snacks galore, and the occasional game of ping pong. 

“Hackathons give us another medium where folks from different disciplines can work together, think outside of the confines of the immediate roadmaps, and come up with ideas that we can then extend and turn into changes in our product offerings. As an engineer, I have always enjoyed taking part in Hackathons and Hack Days myself and I am very happy to see the high level of participation and the quality of the end results from our team.”

– Ulas Bardak, VP of Engineering

This year, the theme of our Hackathon was Consumer Connection: Solutions to help our customers understand, reach and engage consumers in new and better ways. Teams were judged on creativity, reality of the project, perceived impact, sophistication, and their final presentation. The competition was stiff, but the teams below stood out just a hair above the rest. Let’s hear directly from our 2019 winners!


Let’s start by defining what a “span” is: a span is a set of events that are clustered together due to closeness in time and geo-location. Spans are used to represent user activity and mimic that real-world activity usually “spans” a certain period of time.

Because of separate products and a split in data processing workflows, we’ve had to develop and deploy two different workflows, doubling the programming and maintaining efforts in addition to duplicating computation and storage. For our Hackathon project, we developed a new incremental clustering algorithm that — long story short — allows us to have just a single, unified workflow for span generation and measurement. This reduces duplication, allows for timely delivery of data to customers, and improves overall quality and accuracy.

– Tony, Rong, Hao

Factual Socket

Factual Socket started with the idea of creating a data pub-sub tool (a “socket” of sorts) to chain internal engineering services. We then wondered if we could use the same idea for Factual’s customers — can we wire their programmable software services (plugs) into Factual services (sockets)? The end product ultimately means that, in theory, a brand’s marketing team can log into a UI to create and configure an automation that connects a third party RTB ad service to the footfall signals that Factual detects. By providing more Factual sockets to more brands, we can help brands innovate more quickly to better reach and engage their customers. 

– Forrest, Lauren, Will

Think you have what it takes to compete in next year’s Hackathon? Take a look at our open positions and join the team!