AdGrok co-founder Antonio Garcia-Martinez penned a masterfully incendiary blog post in which he blasted the "backwater" tech scene in New York. It was only the company's third post on its blog, but it was a doozy. Go read it.On Tuesday,
Now imagine, for a moment, what happened to a brand new startup with a brand new blog when thousands of people on Tuesday did just that: on someone's recommendation, they clicked through to read to the post. The post was voted to the top of Hacker News. Robert Scoble tweeted a link. The post hit Techmeme. By one o'clock in the afternoon, AdGrok's blog was "totally wedged and we all start panicking. We can't even SSH into the box."
On Wednesday, AdGrok followed up with "a blog post about a blog post," in which the startup discussed its experiences and "lessons learned" from having an unexpectedly successful blog post and from having an unexpectedly slammed server. The post notes the importance of Twitter as a distribution channel, the usefulness of browser-based Olark for real-time chat and customer support, the recommendation for the WP-Cache plugin for better WordPress performance, the accuracy of Google Analytics.
Not given as part of the bulleted list of observations was Garcia-Martinez's "incantation of Amazon EC2 demons." Although it's not clear how much of AdGrok keeping their systems running on Tuesday was the incantation, how much was the demon, and how much was the cloud, it's recognition that responsive scalability should be a key consideration when planning your startup infrastructure. Your blog getting a sudden influx of traffic, your website getting swamped on launch day - these are good things, and you want to be prepared to respond. You don't want to get some great buzz, then have your server combust.
AdGrok has successfully generated some buzz with original blog content. It managed to keep the blog up when under fire. The next task, of course, is sustaining and extending that momentum.
Photo credit: Flickr user Wonderlane