Microsoft's awesome developer evangelist Reza Alizadeh won the Facebook-Heroku hackathon a couple of weeks ago. This was a big deal. Reza went on to TechCrunch last weekend and participated in that hackathon with a team of about four other evangelist. That story is here, and here.
We were waiting to see if a Facebook blog post came out about this, but since I haven't seen one, here is the story. He created an app called Gut. You can follow him on Twitter @ralizadeh.
Here's what Reza tells us:
I teamed up with Chanse Arrington (@chansearrington) from Nokia to build a service that enables app discovery through social channels and a Pandora-like recommendation engine. It allows users to rate the apps that they have downloaded to create a personalized taste profile and compares that to profiles of other users to determine recommendations. In addition to the automated recommendations, it also uses Facebook to follow what apps your friends are using and allows users to make recommendations to their friends.
What inspired the idea was simply the sheer difficulty in finding great apps in such a crowded Marketplace. We recognized that recommendations from friends are one of the primary reasons that users download apps and wanted to enable users to do this more easily by leveraging social channels. We also wanted to supplement these recommendations by layering on automated recommendations tailored for each user – the more you rate the apps you download, the better and more accurate the recommendations. The Facebook/Heroku hackathon provided a great opportunity to build this out, given our use of the Facebook Open Graph and also Heroku to deploy our app.
The backend recommendation engine was built with Ruby on Rails on Heroku and we built a Windows Phone application to surface the app recommendations and allow users to rate their apps.