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Technology companies, from the tiniest startups to those such as Facebook and online game maker Zynga, take the hacker ethic to heart. They host regular “hackathons,” where engineers pull caffeine-fueled all-nighters writing computer code, usually working together on projects that are not part of their day-to-day jobs. Some of Facebook’s biggest features, including chat, video and the new Timeline, came out of these hackathons, as Zuckerberg explained in the filing.

“Hackers believe that the best idea and implementation should always win _ not the person who is best at lobbying for an idea or the person who manages the most people,” he writes.

This is the ethic that can lift fresh-faced college grads (or dropouts) to the highest echelons of the technology elite, or at least to a good job.

Cadir Lee, the chief technology officer at Zynga, the company behind the biggest games on Facebook, says he “absolutely” refers to himself as a hacker. Lee says, at Zynga the hacker way means being agile. It’s not the end of the world, say, if a game isn’t perfect when players first see it, or if it has a bug that needs to be fixed. Think of it as live TV, Lee suggests.

“The charm of `Saturday Night Live’ is that every once in a while you see a boom mic, or they forget their lines or crack up,” says Lee. “But it’s better to get something out there and entertain than to not have any show.”