The Opening Ceremonies of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London take place Friday. But numerous Bay Area businesses, primarily in the tech arena, have been busy preparing for the Games for months.
From building apps and websites to providing 24-hour online coverage and commentary to holding their own intra-office games, companies like Yahoo, Bleacher Report and Cisco will be celebrating and supporting the Olympics for the next fortnight or so.
Here's a quick look at what the companies are up to:
Twitter employees in Boulder, Colo., and San Francisco are working with NBC Sports to gather the best Olympics-related tweets in one place at twitter.com/#olympics. The team's leader is alongside NBC staff in London to ensure a constant flow of tweets.
Fans more interested in hearing only what athletes have to say should divert their eyes to hub.olympic.org, where social media updates from past and present Olympians are aggregated. There also will be live question-and-answer sessions with athletes.
In addition to some cool photos and trivia, the U.S.-centric facebook.com/nbcolympics will offer nightly polls off the Games.
Follow the Games
Yahoo's coverage is based out of Santa Monica, Calif., but the Sunnyvale company has 30 credentialed journalists working in London. Yahoo's Fourth-Place Medal blog is worth following for offbeat stories.
San Francisco's Bleacher Report, the nation's third-most-visited sports website, increased its server capacity by 25 percent in expectation of extra visitors during the Olympics.
Vice President of Engineering Sam Parnell said the website could experience more shocks than usual throughout the day because with live streams online at nbcolympics.com and prime-time coverage on television, the same story might break three times in a day as different audiences tune in.
With 2,000 contributors to its network across the globe, the website plans to bring its signature slideshows and fan's-perspective articles to every story from the Games.
Get off the sidelines
Care to compete with Facebook friends in predicting match and event winners? You can do that at hub.olympic.org.
Yahoo has its own version, called London Pick'em.
For either game, the best spot to get help with predictions might be Yahoo's Tomorrow Makers video series, which will preview the key things to know about the next day's events.
The International Olympic Committee is putting up photographs from Getty Images on olympicmoments.tumblr.com. Those more into the fashions of the Games can turn to olympicfashion.tumblr.com. The images could be of higher quality, but it's a great way to find some pictures that don't make mainstream media.
Instagram won't have an Olympics page either, but visit blog.instagram.com for a list of whom to follow. The IOC's account, facesofolympians, showcases some photos of athletes in quirky gear.
People more interested in Google-plus than those websites can find cool images on "The Olympic Games" Google-plus page. A recent photo of all sorts of bananas noted that athletes get to choose how ripe of a banana they want to eat.
IntoNow from Yahoo was named best of the year by Time in 2011 and will be synchronized with the Olympics on television. People without access to the Olympics on television are probably better off with Sportacular, a different Yahoo app.
Australian company PlayUp, which has five employees in Burlingame, has Android and iOS apps that let fans enter private or public chat rooms with fans of the same event. The app also pulls in news and stats. Dennis Lee, PlayUp's U.S. CEO, said the app has amassed 2 million users in nine months.
Cable subscribers who get CNBC and MSNBC will have access to live streaming of all events and should download NBC Olympics Live Extra. Everyone else has the choice of BBC Olympics or NBC Olympics, which both work with iOS and the most widely used Androids.
The catered breakfast and lunches StumbleUpon's 120 employees in San Francisco receive each day will be jazzed up into a healthy "Breakfast for Champions," and lunch fare each day will be themed around a different country.
That will get workers fueled up to compete for specially designed medals in office tournaments in ping-pong, pool, foosball, chess, rock-paper-scissors and a "Super Complex Highly Calculated Java Based MapReduced Open Sourced Hbased By No Means Random Event (a coding challenge)."
Yahoo employees in Sunnyvale met with former U.S. gold medal-winning decathlete and Yahoo Olympics track and field analyst Dan O'Brien. Ken Fuchs, vice president of global media, did an interview with O'Brien last week that was broadcast across all Yahoo offices.
San Jose's Harmonic is serving up fish and chips alongside Guinness to employees when they watch the Opening Ceremony together Friday. The company is powering media storage and video processing for a dozen broadcasters across the globe, from NBC in America to Foxtel in Australia.
Cisco, which is providing the communications backbone for the London Games, has awarded one lucky employee (winner of a video contest) Olympics tickets. It's also planning to serve treats in office cafes during the Games.
On Wednesday, as many as 20,000 employees across the world will go online to join a party at the Cisco House overlooking the Olympic Village.
And Cisco is also doing its own Olympic challenge: More than 3,000 employees in at least 51 countries are collectively walking "around the world" while keeping track through pedometers and mobile apps. The goal is to walk 10,000 or more steps per day (two to three times the normal daily average) for 40 days, tracing a path from London through previous Olympic sites.
A word about security
San Jose tech security firm ThreatMetrix warns people using any device to be extra careful because of hackers taking advantage of the Olympics. Already, there's a malicious file named "london-2012-olympic-games-day-by-day-schedule.pdf."
"The Olympic audience needs to be vigilant when browsing the Internet and researching the games," Andreas Baumhof, the company's chief technology officer, said in a statement. "Whether you are searching for Michael Phelps or real-time medal count updates, make sure you are using sites that can be trusted."
(Contact Paresh Dave at email@example.com.)
(Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, www.scrippsnews.com.)