October 2020


I’m proud to announce that even in the face of COVID-19, we held our annual global hackathon, known as Rocket.Build, last month. And it was awesome!

Rocket.Build is typically a physical event where participants (Rocketeers, customers, partners) from all over the world get together in one location to create, code, and hack.  Last year’s Rocket.Build was held at our corporate headquarters in Waltham, MA and was our biggest one to that point. We began planning for Rocket.Build 2020 the day that Rocket.Build 2019 ended, and of course, we had even bigger ambitions. But just like you and your business, COVID-19 has forced so many changes to so many of our 2020 plans.

If you’ve followed the story of Rocket.Build over the years, you know that cancelling this year’s event was not an option. Creating the time and space for innovation, creativity, connections, and collaboration is a part of our DNA. Rocket.Build is one of those key ingredients in making Rocket…well…Rocket.

Making this year’s event a virtual hackathon introduced a number of challenges, but in the end it produced results that were far better than anyone could have possibly anticipated. More than 450 Rocketeers signed up to be part of project teams—that’s over one-third of our entire company! And the teams included members from 14 different countries, which is a record for us. We also welcomed technology and business partners to be part of the event, making it even more of a “family” competition.

Some themes that emerged across multiple projects this year included automation, security, AI, hybrid cloud, open-source platforms, and unified and simplified user experiences. The breadth and scope of the projects were nothing short of staggering. Our judges agreed that all projects were winning projects. But in the end, we had to select the best of the best for our awards. I could spend hours talking about the projects, but in the interest of space and time, here are some of the award winners.

I’m always inspired by our Rocket.Build participants, but I was especially inspired this year to see this level of creativity, innovation, collaboration, and connectivity in the middle of a global crisis, during a time when most businesses are focused on day-to-day survival and not on long-term thinking.

Rocket.Build 2020 was one more example of how incredibly resilient Rocketeers are. The cross-geography and cross-functional connections that we developed will serve us well, and ultimately serve you well, in the days, weeks, months and years to come.

Onward and upward.

Every month I like to share songs that are on my mind. Usually, at the conclusion of one of our annual Rocket.Build events I am inspired by songs about victory (it is a contest, after all). But we usually finish Rocket.Build with a closing ceremony/party featuring The Rocket Band. We’re not doing that this year, but I want to share four of my favorite songs from our many TRB set lists. I’ve played guitar on three of these and keyboards on one.

Funk 49 - James Gang
One of Joe Walsh’s most recognizable songs, the idea of being up all night and sleeping all day is one that many of this year’s Rocket.Build participants can identify with.

I Wanna Be Sedated - The Ramones
When they wrote it in 1977, the godfathers of punk would have never anticipated that the editors at NPR would include this song in their list of the 100 most important American musical works of the 20th century.

Roam - B-52s
This single from the B-52s’ breakthrough record Cosmic Thing is all about wanderlust, something that many of us have been experiencing over the past seven months.

Let It Be - The Beatles
This Paul McCartney ballad is one of my favorite songs to play on piano, and has served as the final encore at several Rocket Band shows. No matter the audience, it’s a song that everyone can sing along to.