Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Rings In IPO, With A Hackers’ Touch

By Julie D. Andrews 

With a soldering iron; a couple of capacitors, resistors, and relays from RadioShack; and quite a bit of dissembling and tinkering, a handful of Facebook software engineers (and friends) hacked the Nasdaq bell (see video below), earning themselves a full-fledged badge of geekiness.

Watch live streaming video from nasdaq at livestream.com

In just three days, the small team of five engineers figured out how to hack the Nasdaq bell so that the exact second Facebook Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg pressed the button, the following message would appear on his timeline to open the day’s trading on the stock exchange:

Mark Zuckerberg has listed a company on NASDAQ — FB

Prior to ringing the bell, Zuckerberg was presented with a commemorative hoodie by Nasdaq Chief Executive Officer Bob Greifeld, and he gave a short speech (video below from Bloomberg TV below), in which he said:

I just want to say a few things, and then we’ll ring this bell, and then we’ll get back to work. Right now, this all seems like a big deal. Going public is an important milestone in our history. But here’s the thing: Our mission isn’t to be a public company. Our mission is to make the world more open and connected. In the past eight years, all of you out there have built the largest community in the history of the world. You’ve done amazing things that we never would have dreamed of, and I can’t wait to see what you’re all going to do going forward.

So on this special day, on behalf of everyone at Facebook, I just want to say to all the people out there who use Facebook and our products: Thank you. So let’s do this! [Rings bell] This is an awesome moment. But remember, stay focused and keep shipping.

As for the Nasdaq bell hack, the idea cropped up during lunch Monday, while awaiting the arrival of Nasdaq folks to campus Wednesday, TechCrunch reported.

“It would be epic if you pulled that off,” Zuckerberg said when he heard the mastermind plans, Senior Software Engineer David Garcia posted on TechCrunch.

So the hacker bees got to work. When additional engineers got to the campus and heard of the challenge to hack the button, a few joined in.

The mix-match team of five engineers was given permission to dismantle the button in order to figure out how it worked. For parts, they trekked to RadioShack. They ran volumeter experiments, tested circuits, and tinkered away.

Then, success: They figured out how to connect the button to a mobile phone logged into Facebook to generate an open graph action. They tested it, and it worked.

Precisely as planned, the hack occurred exactly when Zuckerberg pushed the button to switch on a light and remotely ring the bell that opened today’s trading. An attached wire hooked the hack to a mobile headset jack. Garcia posted on TechCrunch:

When the button was pressed, it sent a signal through the hack, and the phone got the signal that triggered the custom action through our open graph application-programming interface, posting a story onto Mark’s timeline.

Additionally, to keep its engineers on target leading up to today’s initial public offering, Facebook hosted an all-night hackathon, beginning at 7 p.m. PT Thursday and lasting until Zuckerberg rang the Nasdaq bell this morning to commemorate the IPO, allowing clusters of engineers to collaborate and innovate on new product development.

Many of the proud hackers stood by at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., watching as Zuckerberg rang the bell.

Readers: Are you as relieved as we are that the Facebook IPO is finally underway, after all of the hype leading up to it?