Way back in 2008 some investors wanted to build a business video platform in New York City. The idea was to host videos that could be embedded in other websites, then sell a “wrapper” for branding around the content. Think, a commercial YouTube. Edgy content like MTV, Jack Ass and College Humor. The major buiness problem was the cost of streaming a live video. Sure, YouTube did it, but it must’ve costed a fortune. A small website with 5 million MAUs was spending hundreds of thousands a month with Akamai streaming video. We needed real advertising revenue just to break even!
I took on a project as “CTO” to move from on-premise serving with Akamai to this new fangled thing being built by Amazon. Everyone I talked to thought it was a stupid side project for me, with illustrious CEOs laughing at “Simple Storage Service” from Amazon. One famous Wall Street analyst called it a distraction, calling for the company to ditch these silly side projects. Server consolidation was all the rage. Cloud was nonsense.
Well, I took a shot at it. We moved the entire site to the cloud in 2007, when nobody else was paying attention. I had just come from Photobucket where we hosted 50 million users across 3000 machines and 3 datacenters. That was a nightmare, with my pager going off constantly, almost always on a late Friday evening as the week ran down.
Andy Jassy invited me to give a talk as he flew from city to city, chatting about this new cloud business he dreamed up as Bezos’ TA. I did a blog post (long since gone) but have found the slides. We moved videos to storage and migrated to cloud. That’s more normal now. Back then, there were perhaps 20-30 people in the audience for the AWS event in New York City.
A few more people are paying attention now.