Earlier today I co-hosted an Ask Me Anything (AMA) stream with Fiona Whittington about the recent acquisition of TechTogether by Major League Hacking (MLH). Thank you once again to everyone who participated and asked such thoughtful questions!
In case you missed the stream, below are the answers to the questions we’ve been hearing from the community for your reference.
Q: What is TechTogether (TT)?
TechTogether is an organization working to increase the gender diversity of the hackathon community. Each year, we support over 10,000 hackers. TechTogether is credited in part with increasing the representation of people of marginalized genders in the United States hackathon community to 47% from 18% in 2017.
TechTogether serves people of marginalized genders, this includes transgender women, cisgender women, transgender men, non-binary individuals, and all gender identities which have been systematically oppressed by those in power throughout history.
Q: What is Major League Hacking (MLH)?
Major League Hacking (MLH) is an organization empowering our next generation of technologists. Through thousands of hands-on educational programs like hackathons, fellowships, and workshops, MLH has helped more than 500,000 software developers launch their careers since 2013.
MLH is widely known among student developers for the 200+ weekend-long invention contests called hackathons we power on university campuses around the world each year. During these events in 2021 alone, more than 135,000 developers were able to gain hands-on experience creating websites, apps, robots, and more using the very technologies they’ll use in their careers.
Q: How do I start a TT chapter? How do I attend a TT event?
TechTogether hackathons are organized by chapters of local community leaders in cities like New York, Boston, and Atlanta. If you’re interested in starting or joining a TechTogether chapter in your city, please email us at email@example.com. We will publish a list of the chapters we’ve committed to supporting in the year ahead and will open applications for additional organizers to join each city’s team. If you want to be notified when hacker registrations and organizer applications go live, subscribe to our newsletter here.
Q: Why did Fiona think this was a good opportunity for TechTogether? And reverse?
Like TechTogether, MLH cares deeply about making hackathons inclusive and diverse. MLH also has deep experience supporting the growth of a community from the early days to more than 500,000 members. By joining forces with MLH, TechTogether will have access to resources and expertise that will help us empower hackers at an even greater scale and further our mission of increasing the gender diversity of the hackathon community. MLH helped TechTogether launch our business back in 2017 as a student organization, now they are helping us transform our nonprofit into a global operation. By acquiring TechTogether, MLH can better serve a community of underrepresented hackers and introduce new programs that make tech and hackathons more accessible.
Q: What does this mean for the future TechTogether?
We will leverage MLH’s investment in TechTogether to expand the Chapter Program and launch new programs, which means more opportunities for you to attend hackathons and other cool career development programs like the MLH Fellowship. MLH will also play a big role in helping TechTogether transition its programs back to in-person for the 2021-2022 hackathon season. MLH has always supported TechTogether, so we’re excited to deepen and explore new collaboration opportunities with their team.
Q: How is TechTogether changing as a result of the acquisition?
The TechTogether you know and love isn’t going anywhere – we’ll continue to operate TechTogether hackathons and more, but now as part of the MLH family! So for those of you worried that our mascot is leaving us – don’t worry, Byte is here to stay! Our mission and gender-inclusivity policy will not be changed, and of course, we will continue to supply face masks at every in-person TechTogether hackathon.
Q: How have MLH and TT worked together in the past?
TechTogether’s hackathons were MLH Member Events from 2017-2021. MLH provided TechTogether with the training and support to host some of our first hackathons. For the past two years, MLH and TechTogether have worked together on DE&I research and initiatives.
Q: What is Fiona’s new role within MLH?
Fiona will oversee integrating TechTogether into MLH for the first 6-12 months, so you can still expect to see her face at TechTogether hackathons as usual. Afterward, Fiona will be joining the Major League Hacking team as the Director of Strategic Initiatives. In this role, she will be cultivating the community of organizers and leaders that plan thousands of MLH events each year and in-turn empower hundreds of thousands of hackers.
Q: What’s happening to TechTogether’s nonprofit entity? Can you acquire a nonprofit?
The acquisition was structured as an asset purchase where MLH bought the rights and resources to operate TechTogether’s programs from our non-profit entity. To make sure the non-profit entity went to good use afterward, we donated it to a mission-aligned organization.
Q: How much did MLH acquire TechTogether for?
TechTogether was acquired for an undisclosed price. Unlike the acquisition of a for-profit company, a non-profit’s goal during an acquisition like this is to maximize impact toward the mission, not the purchase price. TechTogether felt like the scale and support we could achieve as part of MLH would help us significantly accelerate progress toward our mission.
Q: What is happening to the rest of the TT team?
We’ll be immediately expanding our team to support our plans for growth. The first role we’ll be hiring for is a full-time program manager who will oversee the day-to-day operations of TechTogether. We’ll also be able to work with the existing team at MLH and will be exploring ways to keep the existing TechTogether team and volunteers involved as well.
Q: Is TechTogether keeping its branding?
Yes, our name, logo, and mascot Byte isn’t going anywhere. Major League Hacking respects the brand TechTogether has created and intends only to add to the brand in ways that align with TechTogether’s core values.
Q: How can people continue to support TT’s mission?
We would love to have folks volunteer at our upcoming hackathons as mentors, judges, or workshop hosts. There is a page on our website where you can sign up to get notified when volunteer opportunities become available in your city.
Q: Physical versus digital?
Both MLH and TechTogether are committed to bringing back in-person events for our community as quickly as possible. To ensure that the events are safe, we’ll be utilizing best practices recommended by national, state, and local health authorities. We are also committed to continuing to offer virtual events in the future, enabling anyone to join the TechTogether community, regardless of where they’re located!
Q: How is MLH going to keep TechTogether’s safe/empowering space?
TechTogether will continue to evolve our policies and best practices to keep TechTogether the safe and empowering space that our hackers know and love. Hacker safety is a top priority that both MLH and TechTogether share.
Q: Is TechTogether’s gender inclusivity policy changing?
No, TechTogether’s gender inclusivity policy will not change. Our hackathons will still be restricted to people of marginalized genders.
Q: How can cis-men participate in TechTogether?
Cis-gender men play a critical role in TechTogether’s impact by helping us provide mentorship, workshops, and support to organizers during our hackathons. Cis-gender men often make up the majority of our hackathon volunteer staff.
Q: Who is TechTogether’s current community and how is that going to change? Does this mean TT will be expanding internationally?
TechTogether’s community is constantly evolving, as we work to make our community more diverse and inclusive. We hope to continue to run programs that increase the representation of underrepresented groups in our community, and the broader hackathon community. In addition, TechTogether hopes to create more pathways to serve our growing international community.