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.
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I’m an AWS Serverless Hero and the author of Production-Ready Serverless. I have run production workload at scale in AWS for nearly 10 years and I have been an architect or principal engineer with a variety of industries ranging from banking, e-commerce, sports streaming to mobile gaming. I currently work as an independent consultant focused on AWS and serverless.
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