Publishing behemoths such as Hearst have been notable in their slowness to adapt to the technological advances of the tablet and smartphone age. This is set to change with the company seizing the digital bull by its pixelated horns on February 9th, when it will hold its first fashion hackathon at its midtown HQ, Hearst Tower.
Hearst is seeking to crowdsource ideas from the fashion and tech communities to develop innovative solutions for magazine brands, which have fallen behind with the growth of digital publishing in recent years.
Hearst Magazines President and hack judge David Carey sees the event as a chance for the publisher to insert itself into the digital market.
Fashion and technology are ever-changing, evolving at lightning speed. It is a priority for us to continually provide new, first-to-market online and mobile experiences.
In a 24 hour time period designers and developers will come together to create fashion-focused applications and programs. Hearst executives will then judge the prototypes, giving special consideration to apps that ‘inventively connect readers and editors in real time.’ The grand prize is $10, 000 and the possibility of the app being developed and financed by Hearst.
Partnering with AngelHack, Google, Microsoft and others, the technology-driven event will allow developers to use programming instructions from Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, Cosmopolitan and Marie Claire (all Hearst-owned magazines) to build creative and innovative fashion-forward programs.
Phil Wiser, Hearst Chief Technological Officer (and judge) told WWD that the hackathon is an indication of the company’s new technological focus:
It’s really a very technology and entrepreneurial driven effort that represents the direction Hearst is headed in terms of inventing new digital products — and also doing that in concert with the tech community.
This is not the first step the publisher has taken to enhance its digital presence. Last week, Apple quietly announced that Hearst would be releasing iPad editions of its magazines days before copies hit newsstands or other digital providers.
The deal with Apple, the first of its kind, means that 22 Hearst-owned magazines will be available in the iOS Newsstand prior to anywhere else. Digital editions of magazines are already proving to boost publishers’ bottom-line, so Hearst will capitalize on the market using Apple’s ‘Read it Here First’ section in the App Store.
While other magazine publishers may soon follow suit, Hearst has made a clear statement about the important and growing role that technology has within the fashion publishing industry.