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Last Friday, we kicked off our first ever Whitepages Hackathon. It was a fantastic event with huge participation, great ideas and lots of fun. The idea behind it was a long time in the making. Every day at work I hear questions or suggestions on how to best leverage our data. Whether it’s an engineer, member of the marketing team, or one of the folks from HR—Whitepagers are constantly dreaming up new ideas to enhance our business. I finally decided it was time to round up all the Whitepagers to spend an afternoon brainstorming ideas and focusing on the ones that would best serve our customers. We kicked off the Hackathon at noon on September 12, 2014. Here was the format for the day

  • Pitch your idea in 1 minute
  • Form teams around the best 6 ideas
  • Spend 6 hours on execution
  • Present your idea in 5 minutes
  • Crown the winner

The level of participation blew my mind. Nearly a third of the company pitched a total of 28 ideas. Participants included members from Whitepages PRO, marketing, HR, engineering, ad sales and the interns. Pitches were one minute long and had to focus on a business problem with a way to solve it. The ideas pitched represented different business units and customer personas. We had something for Whitepages PRO developers to help them play around with our APIs, some great features for Whitepages, and we had ideas on how to leverage our Identity Graph data to solve the business community’s pain points.

Voting for the best ideas. More chaos = more fun

Voting for the best ideas. More chaos = more fun

 

Next, each participant voted to select the six best ideas. Over 60 people voted—that’s more than half of the office. That’s a great testament to the culture here at Whitepages, where everyone is working hard to make the customer’s experience the best it can be.   Once the voting was complete, the teams formed around their six chosen ideas. They were instructed to fine-tune their idea, think about user experience, and then create mockups, prototypes, or something more fleshed out so that the judges could better understand the problem, solution and user experience.   The next six hours were spent on execution. It was intense. There were heated debates, challenging questions and last minute coding to come up with something cool.   Then came the time to present. The judges were asked to focus on:

  • Relevance of the solution for Whitepages
  • The customer’s experience
  • Execution
  • Quality of the presentation
The interns presenting their mockups followed by a real demo

The interns presenting their mockups followed by a real demo

The teams ensured that the judges had their work cut out for them. If the top six ideas were all good, then the execution went above and beyond. For example, one team created two mobile apps (Android and iOS) from scratch complete with design and coding. Another did an entire demo all from the command line. And the next team created cool visualizations that would enhance our data’s value in the realm of business. All of this was done in just six hours! In the end, it was a single point that separated the winner from the runner-up.

 

For the grand prize, each of the winning team members received: (1) bragging rights as the winner of the first ever Whitepages Hackathon; (2) the potential opportunity for their idea to be productized; (3) dinner at the Space Needle.   For me, the best part of the Hackathon is what comes next. I am already in conversations with one of the teams to open source their project. The idea would improve the developer’s onboarding experience for our Graph APIs. Additionally, one of the product teams is keen to see if they can prioritize another idea for early 2015. We are also trying to figure out if we can create a sample app from one of the pitches. In short, the Hackathon was a real win, and of course, lots of fun. It made all the planning and effort behind organizing this experience totally worth it.   What do you think? Let me know (kshah [at] whitepages [dot] com) if you have interesting ideas for our data. And if you now find yourself wishing to take part in some competition, then enter Whitepages PRO API Mashup Challenge. We’re taking submissions until October 31st.

In meantime, I’ll be planning the next Whitepages Hackathon.

My name is Ashkaan Khatakhotan and I was a web development intern on Whitepages core site team this past summer.

Ashkaan

 

Over the course of my internship I built the UI of a V1 rails web app for collection and distribution of contact information. During this time I had to deal with issues of attracting and onboarding new users. Because of these experiences I decided to make the topic of my intern presentation “Best Practices for Increasing User Conversion”.

User conversion can basically be defined as the percentage of users who take a desired action – such as signing up for a service. New user conversion is obviously a hugely important aspect for any company, and is one of the strongest ROI arguments for better user experience. To create this presentation I scoured UX blogs and over a hundred different websites to gather information on what user conversion practices work and what practices to avoid.

Please direct any questions you have to my email, akhotan10@gmail.com.

Yes, Virginia, Florence, and Victoria: Most Popular Names Shared With Places

In honor of summer travel, we took a look at the most popular names in the country that are shared with travel destinations. While there are plenty of places named after people, like Lincoln, Nebraska, and Washington, D.C., we found that Virginia tops the list with 577,805 people sharing the name – most of them living in West Virginia.

Florence (Italy, and cities in AL, OR, and SC) and Victoria (TX, Canada) tied for second place with 404,327 people sharing the name, most common in Hawaii and New Mexico, respectively. Brittany (as in France, 350,775 people) and Charlotte (as in NC, VT, 254,489 people), round out the Top 5.

There are lots of people named after exciting travel destinations like Paris, Asia, and India, which makes you wonder if their parents are world travelers, or better yet, if these people were conceived in these destinations. However, we loved seeing national pride reflected in the amount of people named America here in the United States (2,852 people).

Our list breaks down the states where the people with these most common names are living. Interestingly enough, California (121 people) and Bronx (21 people), are most common in their respective states.

Don’t worry about packing a bag or filling up the gas tank – take a tour of the most popular names shared with travel destinations below:

  1. Virginia577,805; W. Virginia has the most
  2. Florence (Italy, Alabama, Oregon & South Carolina): 404,327; Hawaii has the most
Victoria Beckham

Victoria Beckham

3. Victoria (TX, Canada)404,327; New Mexico has the most

Britney Spears

Britney Spears

4. Brittany (France): 350,775; Kentucky has the most

5. Charlotte (North Carolina, Vermont)254,489 girls; W. Virginia has the most

Chelsea Clinton

Chelsea Clinton

6. Chelsea (London, New York City)133,470; Utah has the most

7. Georgia113,695; Mississippi has the most

8. Carolina (North & South)57,164; California has the most

9. Madison (WI, NJ): 28,882; Utah has the most

10. Sydney: 43,133; Utah has the most

Like mother, like daughter: Savannah Guthrie just named her daughter Vale, also a place.

Like mother, like daughter: Savannah Guthrie just named her daughter Vale, also a place.

 

11. Savannah (Georgia)28,082; Kentucky has the most

12. Madeleine (Islands, Quebec, Canada): 17,551; New Hampshire has the most

13. Asia: 15,088; Washington, DC has the most

Paris Hilton

Paris Hilton

14. Paris14,931; Washington, DC has the most

Thinking of getting Amazon’s new Fire phone? We’ve custom built our award-winning apps for optimum performance with the Fire phone’s unique capabilities.

The new Fire phone makes it easier than ever for users to communicate using the suite of WhitePages apps for everything from rich contact and caller ID data to the ability to block unwanted calls and texts. All of our apps now provide one touch access to frequently used features, from the people and businesses you call most to the calls and texts that you’ve recently blocked.

Amazon Fire phone has WhitePages CurrentID

 Features of the apps for Amazon’s Fire phone include:

  • WhitePages - With the WhitePages app you can take advantage of Amazon’s Firefly feature to call or send a text to a phone number and conduct a WhitePages search to identify rich contact data, which can be added to your address book with one touch. In addition, you can search for contact information for people and businesses, view menus or store hours, and get maps and driving directions.
  • WhitePages Current - WhitePages Current provides rich call and text ID with real-time streaming social status updates from Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter as well as local information pertinent to the caller. The app incorporates a smart address book that updates in real-time with names, addresses and more information about all of a user’s contacts, including newly identified calls and texts. In addition, you can block unwanted calls and texts with alerts that warn against potential scams.
  • Mr. Number The popular call blocking and spam identification app lets users easily block or report unwanted calls and texts, including those from telemarketers and spammers. The associated widget allows you to see your most recent blocked calls and texts with one touch.
We think you’re going to love the experience. You can find all of the apps in the Amazon Appstore.

Take a group of twenty WhitePages interns, their mentors, and managers to a mini golf course then tell them there are prizes. Odds are you’ll come out of the round thinking mini golf was an Olympic sport.

Did your team putt the best overall score? Congratulations, bronze medals and prizes for all!

Did you putt a hole-in-one? Even if it was a fluke, silver medal for you! Here is a gift card.

Did you whitepages golf[1]putt the lowest score out of everyone? Congratulations, you are a gold medalist on the top of the podium. Here is another gift card.

On the first social intern event of the summer, the team went to Interbay Golf Course to play a round and enjoy our time out of the office. We managed to dodge the rain, played through some soggy greens, and even managed to hit a few holes-in-one. Shout outs to Jeff, Katherine, Byron, and Graeme for sinking those putts with one stroke!

When the rounds were over, we headed inside for dinner and awards. Although the competition was fierce, there was a team who stood above the rest. Congratulations Team Number One! As it so happens, they also had our overall best golfer with a round total of 48; that’s only 8 over par.

We’ve enjoyed having our summer interns and it was a great way to interact outside the office. Up next on the intern social calendar is our afternoon playing Whirlyball in August. We can’t wait!