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It took all of us by surprise, and happened at a time when we have made real strides in the (r)evolution of our backend architecture. AWS was really impressed with what we were doing with Amazon Lambda and in the midst of conducting a case study on our work, unfortunately that’ll no longer see the light of day.
Our engagement numbers were much better than other similar social networks at the same age, and the VCs loved our numbers, we just didn’t have enough of it to prove our long-term trajectory. Every VC we spoke to wanted to see 12 months worth of data before they are willing to get involved, and in the end we simply run out of time to raise the necessary funding and our major shareholder Peter Simon put us into administration.
Looking back, there were lessons to be learnt from this unfortunate event:
- perhaps we should have involved VCs at an earlier stage
- perhaps we should have seen the danger signs when we were so reliant on one investor
- perhaps Peter Simon wasn’t the right investor for us given our business is so different from retail and real estate
- perhaps having so much investment up front meant we missed the bootstrap mentality and spent lavishly on tools and niceties that we didn’t need
Sadly, those who have turned the company around in the last 10 months – our current CEO Gareth Evans and CTO Brett Johansen – weren’t involved in the preceding 18 months when much of the damage had already been done. Under the previous regime millions of investment had been wasted on expensive contractors and 3rd party vendors with no product to show for it.
Despite the unhappy end, it has been an exciting 7 months for me personally, and I’m really proud of the work my team accomplished in such a short time. We have learnt many valuable lessons and gained a deep understanding of the benefits and challenges of the new Function-as-a-Service (FAAS) paradigm. I guess one silver lining is that I now have plenty of time to blog and share those experiences with you over the coming weeks as I look for my next move.
Throughout these difficult last few days, our CEO Gareth Evans continued to fight for that glimmer of hope to keep the company going, and for the right of employees to be paid the wages they’re owed (despite losing out the millions he has invested into the company himself).
My biggest regret is that the wonderful server team we assembled has been disbanded. Everyone knows how difficult it is to form an effective team, you need the right chemistry amongst the team members and we had that in abundance.
In typical Yubl fashion, I’ll end with a cat picture for all Yublers reading this.
I specialise in rapidly transitioning teams to serverless and building production-ready services on AWS.
Are you struggling with serverless or need guidance on best practices? Do you want someone to review your architecture and help you avoid costly mistakes down the line? Whatever the case, I’m here to help.
Check out my new podcast Real-World Serverless where I talk with engineers who are building amazing things with serverless technologies and discuss the real-world use cases and challenges they face. If you’re interested in what people are actually doing with serverless and what it’s really like to be working with serverless day-to-day, then this is the podcast for you.
Check out my new course, Learn you some Lambda best practice for great good! In this course, you will learn best practices for working with AWS Lambda in terms of performance, cost, security, scalability, resilience and observability. We will also cover latest features from re:Invent 2019 such as Provisioned Concurrency and Lambda Destinations. Enrol now and start learning!
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Are you working with Serverless and looking for expert training to level-up your skills? Or are you looking for a solid foundation to start from? Look no further, register for my Production-Ready Serverless workshop to learn how to build production-grade Serverless applications!
Here is a complete list of all my posts on serverless and AWS Lambda. In the meantime, here are a few of my most popular blog posts.
- Lambda optimization tip – enable HTTP keep-alive
- You are wrong about serverless and vendor lock-in
- You are thinking about serverless costs all wrong
- Just how expensive is the full AWS SDK?
- Many faced threats to Serverless security
- We can do better than percentile latencies
- Yubl’s road to Serverless
- AWS Lambda – should you have few monolithic functions or many single-purposed functions?
- AWS Lambda – compare coldstart time with different languages, memory and code sizes
- Guys, we’re doing pagination wrong
- Top 10 Serverless framework best practices