Kickstarter Wrote a Computer Program For Its 'Lunch Roulette.' And Now It's Sharing the Code.
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You see, Kickstarter’s staff is especially diverse -- former funeral directors, radio hosts and hardware hackers are all part of the team. To bring this eclectic group together, the Brooklyn-based crowdfunding platform started organizing different, random groups of employees to break bread together.
While middle school may have been a long time ago, we still need a bit of encouragement sometimes to leave our comfort zone. In order to be sure that the hardware hackers weren’t exclusively having lunch with other hardware hackers, the office manager at Kickstarter, Shannon Ferguson would work tirelessly to come up with continually random groups for these lunch outings. But as Kickstarter grew, so did the challenge of this task.
When the staff of Kickstarter reached about 50 employees, Fred Benenson, the data lead at Kickstarter, stepped in and offered Ferguson a hand.
“One of the biggest issues with keeping groups interesting was moving a person from one group to another meant a cascade of changes which were tedious, and sometimes impossible to reconcile by hand,” explained Benenson, in a blog post describing the project. “After spending an entire weekend churning out 6 possible sets of a dozen groups of 4 people each, Shannon took me up on my offer to help build a formal algorithm to help automate what we had been calling Lunch Roulette.”
Benenson got a hand from Brandon Williams, a particularly mathematically inclined employee at Kickstarter, and wrote a computer program that made the lunch pairings perfectly random. The code required that each lunch pairing would never include three people who have ever had lunch together, no more than one executive and nobody in the lunch pairing can be on the same sub-specialty within Kickstarter.
Lunch Roulette is working for Kickstarter, which now has 89 employees. And now they want to make it available to everyone. A particular favorite Brooklyn eatery where Kickstarter employees go for their team-building, bread-breaking adventures is Brooklyn Label, a cafe in the Greenpoint neighborhood of Brooklyn.