Meet the Irish Facebook engineer who was part of clever NASDAQ bell hack

19 May 2012

Pictured: Just your average bunch of Facebook engineers, and Zuckerberg. Colm Doyle is on the left of Zuckerberg. Vikas Gupta and David Garcia are on the right

Irish Facebook engineer Colm Doyle was one of the team of Facebook engineers who devised the clever hack that saw Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s Timeline automatically update the instant he rang the NASDAQ bell yesterday signalling the start of the social network’s IPO.

Yesterday at 9.30am San Francisco time Mark Zuckerberg pressed a NASDAQ button to kickstart trading of Facebook shares.

That button was rigged to automatically post “Mark Zuckerberg listed a company on NASDAQ – with Chris Cox and 4 others.”

It turns out that the idea occurred to a team of Facebook engineers in the final few days before the IPO yesterday.

According to TechCrunch the team connected the NASDAQ button to a mobile phone logged into Facebook to generate an open graph action. This turned out to be trickier than you’d think and involved senior software engineer David Garcia hacking a pair of headphones, doing a bit of soldering, grabbing capacitors and resistors from a nearby Radio Shack and after a bit of testing the solution worked.

facebook NASDAQ hack

It had to be capable of running the instant Zuckerberg pressed the NASDAQ button in front of cheering Facebook employees yesterday. Once the button was pressed a signal was sent through the hacked hardware and triggered a custom action onto Facebook’s Open Graph API. And history was made.

According to sources Colm Doyle was part of the ingenious band of engineers who pulled the hack off.

Before joining Facebook in February 2010 Doyle worked in IT support at advertising agency McConnells in Dublin.

After becoming interested in digital he began fooling around with Facebook applications and created apps for prominent brands like Innocent Smoothies.

After attending a Facebook dev garage in Dublin he clearly impressed local Facebook staff and was offered work with the social network’s international headquarters in Dublin where some 200 people are employed..

A few weeks ago, after getting married, he was offered a 12 month contract to work in Facebook HQ in Silicon Valley.

And clearly he is making his mark. Well done Colm.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years