Archive for November, 2008

Yieldex wins Amazon AWS Start-up Challenge!

Friday, November 21st, 2008

We won! Out of nearly 1000 startups who applied, we won!

This is a great validation of our fantastic technical team. We have been chosen as one of the most innovative users of Amazon’s cloud computing technology. We could not have done this without your hard work. Thank you!

This was a great experience for us. The Amazon team was very professional throughout, the event was well-managed, and they even made a cool video featuring our development team. The press release went out tonight, and there was even a blog post that beat mine.

Here’s the blow-by-blow, for those who want all the details:

We pitched the panel of judges, all senior execs of Amazon, at 1pm. They had 50min presentations from each of the seven finalists, and had been going since 7am. We did our standard pitch, and did a great job talking about how important AWS is to us. They seemed to appreciate the presentation, but were somewhat poker faced, so while we felt we did a good job, it was hard to tell their reaction.

Later in the afternoon, we had a “VC speed-dating” event, where we had 10 minutes with each of 5 VCs. The firms were all first-rate (BlueRun, Hummer Winblad, Madrona, Greylock, and CMEA). Our product is pretty complex, so it’s hard to get across in 10 minutes, but we did our best, and each of the VCs seemed to get it quickly enough. All were interested in following up, but again, hard to tell how we ranked.

Then there was a reception while the judges and the VCs deliberated. They had invited 200 other startup people to come hear how the seven finalists were using AWS. My guess is closer to a hundred people were in the room, and we had to do another 10 minute presentation on AWS, with slides, to this group. We managed to do it in only 5-6 minutes and get our message across. Finally, around 9pm, it was time to announce the winner. We were jubilant when they picked us – I let out a shout of joy and a fist pump, to the delight of the audience.

Andy Jassy, the SVP of AWS said some nice words and gave us the traditional golden hammer. We were then invited to take a whack at an old rackmount server they had, to symbolize the destruction of our own servers. John and I both hammered it pretty hard, but we barely dented it – those steel frames are tough.

Then everyone came up to congratulate us, and we shook hands with big grins on our faces. We took a couple of pictures, approved the quote in the press release, and talked with the Amazon folks some more. All great stuff.

Finally, we headed out for a celebratory dinner. Once again, thanks to everyone in the company for your hard work – we did the talking, but we could not have done this without all of you.


Thomas Babbington Macaulay on Copyright

Tuesday, November 18th, 2008

These days, I don’t usually re-post links to things I read online, although I used to. This one, however, is worth the exception. This is the single finest exposition of copyright I have ever read (Lessig included, which is saying something, since I’m a huge Lessig fan). And it’s a speech delivered in 1841!

The easiest form of parochialism to fall into is to assume that we are smarter than the past generations, that our thinking is necessarily more sophisticated. This may be true in science and technology, but not necessarily so in wisdom.

Be forewarned: this speech is long, and far more intellectually challenging than most modern political speech. But the mind behind it is lively and incisive, and you may be surprised by how little the fundamental issues have changed, and how some of the disingenuous arguments put forth today echo those of the far past. Judge for yourself whether the politicians to day are wiser than those of a hundred and sixty years ago.

Macaulay on Copyright

Yieldex is a Finalist in AWS Startup Challenge

Friday, November 7th, 2008

We were delighted to learn yesterday that Yieldex was selected as a finalist in the Amazon AWS Startup Challenge. Seven companies were selected out of probably 100’s that applied (apparently 900 applied last year, don’t know how many applied this year). We even got a TechCrunch mention – can’t wait to see what that does to our web site traffic. For the record, our web site is intentionally vague – we didn’t want to really launch the company until we had a few customers up and running – and we’re getting close.

We view this as a great validation of our sophisticated technology for solving the complex and difficult problem of maximizing the value of premium inventory for large web sites. By using cutting-edge software that takes advantage of the unique capabilities of the cloud, coupled with our patented engine, we are able to tackle these challenges that have resisted commercial solutions for a decade or more. Congratulations to our development team – they deserve this!