Spotify – the Hack Week

Just like many other software companies before them, Spotify has implemented a so-called “free time” in which their employees can work on a project of their choosing, on which they would otherwise have no time to spend developing.

At Spotify, this free time used to be called “hack days” and most employees used to have a day and a half to work on their specific project to improve the company in anyway ( from improvements to the building, to the operations, new product add-ons, etc. ) at the beginning of their “three week sprints”. But this used to happen at a time when the company was still pretty small and with rather few employees. As the company got bigger, they noticed that it became harder and harder for employees to find the time to take the hack days. The employees were still the ones to find a solution: the started saving their hack days and organised a hack week together with other teams. Since the results were pretty amazing, it did not take long for someone to pitch the idea to the CTO and CPO and they were immediately on board.

As Joakim Sundén put it, “[a] work group with people who wanted to help was formed and we ended up with a good mix of people from engineering, product, design and other departments, with experience from running big hack day events at places like Netflix and Yahoo. We read up on how others have organized events like this, for example Atlassian’s ShipIt Days and Jurgen Appelo’s Exploration Days, shared our experiences and our ideas in a workshop and communicated the event in an e-mail to the rest of the company:

So what is hack week about? Well, hack week is a chance for you to explore new ideas and collaborate on things you feel passionate about. Remember all those great ideas you’ve had that you never have time for because you’re too busy with your normal work? Those are exactly the kinds of ideas that Hack Week is made for! It could be a new tool you want to explore, an awesome product feature, a process improvement, an ambitious marketing campaign, or anything else that will help improve Spotify. Think of an idea and seek out others who can help you with it, or join up with someone else’s project. Here are some possible project ideas…”

A lot of ideas have been brought up in this one week event. Some of them will be implemented, some won’t. But this Hack Week idea clearly shows why Spotify gets better and better all the time.

And to leave you with some insight from the event, here is the promotional clip that they have shown:


Until next time, I wish you a delicious day!



Source: Spotify Labs


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