Facebook Fever: Break Out the Servers

October 18, 2007, 5:37 PM UTC

Looking for a graphic example of why entrepreneurs are racing to build out their businesses on Facebook? Ali Partovi, CEO of music-discovery site iLike, says that when his company launched on Facebook this summer just before Memorial Day weekend, it had laid in 40 spare servers “just in case.” Partovi, speaking at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco this morning, said that iLike had consciously launched the service on a weekend when young people—the presumed users of iLike, which recommends music based on what one’s friends like—would likely be partying and away from their computers. Likewise, it was the first day that Facebook itself had opened its platform to third-party developers. No one knew what to expect.

Within the first 12 hours, however, 10,000 people signed up, he said. Another 10,000 signed up in the next three hours. And another 10,000 two hours later. “We realized that the servers wouldn’t last at this rate until Monday. So we actually rented a 40-foot truck and drove around the Bay Area and literally filled it floor to ceiling with servers.” That, it turned out, was a shrewd move. ILike now has over 10 million users.

Partovi also said that he and his CTO, Nat Brown—a chief architect at Microsoft of the Windows operating system and the Xbox project—had looked at Facebook’s platform before it was opened to developers, and “came away with the conclusion that this could be the biggest paradigm shift since the creation of the Internet itself. “