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Founder Stories Volume 01: Slicehost (37signals.com)
150 points by davidedicillo on July 15, 2011 | hide | past | favorite | 35 comments

I can't think of slicehost without thinking of Pickled Onion. This guy's tutorials were the reason I used slicehost. I remember being really thrilled when they added him to the team. Does anyone know where he is now? As a customer and stakeholder in slicehost, I felt let down by the sale to Rackspace.

I'm guessing without watching that these interviews reinforce the 37s mantra that building businesses you want to do for the rest of your life rather than building for the liquidity event is the "right" way to go. I can't help but agree in this case.

Another Pickled Onion fan. I still have his tutorials saved just in case http://www.usefuljaja.com/ every went away.

Now with Heroku, CloudFoundry, et al it's difficult to remember how hard Rails hosting was back then. The combination of Slicehost, Litespeed, and Pickled Onion's tutorials were a godsend for me. I could finally just build stuff and not worry about infrastructure.

Pickled Onion, aka Paul Tomes is still working at Rackspace, however not directly with slicehost.

I'll second that. Those tutorials were so fantastic it made me a Slicehost/Rackspace customer for sure. Rackspace's documentation was so laughably bad they might as well have not existed.

I'm still with Slicehost because of Pickled Onion. Only because I know that if I need to do anything with my servers, the articles will definitely help me. Worked every time. And even though there are better and cheaper solutions now, I haven't even thought about moving.

The articles, for the most part, apply to Linux and associated programs regardless of host.

The proper permalink for this is actually http://37signals.com/founderstories/slicehost. Can someone update the title?

HN should do a HTTP HEAD on submitted URLs and change them according to redirects.

Edit: Doing an HTTP HEAD on the submitted URL—37signals.com/founderstories/—gave me an HTTP 302 "Found" (with Location 37signals.com/founderstories/slicehost). According to the HTTP spec, with an HTTP 302 you're indicating that "the client SHOULD continue to use the Request-URI for future requests"—strictly, shouldn't this be an HTTP 303 "See Other"—"the new URI is not a substitute reference for the originally requested resource"[1]?

[1] http://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc2616#section-10.3.4

Hey all Matt here, if you have any questions/comments my email is matt@devstructure.com.

are you guys looking for help in any way @devstructure?

it's opensource so anyone can help, if you're talking full time send an email and such to support@devstructure.com

Slicehost was great back then. I remember jumping on the early waiting list to get my first server and how much cheaper it was than anything else at the time. The service was top-notch - I'd jump on IRC if something bad happened and there would always be someone there handing out info.

I'm still on Slicehost for a few servers and it's still good, but it feels like it's frozen in time (which it is AFAICT). Can't blame them for cashing out and they didn't really leave us hanging - things are still running fine.

Me too, but I don't really mind that it's frozen in time as it "just works". I use Dreamhost too and haven't seen much change there either in that time. Maybe a few more options, but it didn't make much difference to me.

The downside will be if Rackspace proceeds with their plan to move SH accounts over.

Excellent work but a bit risky using Vimeo? They seem to be quite boot-happy for even vaguely commercially-related usage: http://boagworld.com/reviews/vimeo/

I'm the other founder of DevStructure. True story: I met Matt in the Slicehost IRC in 2007.

Andrew Warner will be spewing. I don't think he's ever gotten an admission to someone crying in an interview!

In the Kevin O'Connor interview he even came right out and asked to hear about the times he was crying in the shower! [1]

Call it beginner's luck I guess?

[1] http://mixergy.com/kevin-o%E2%80%99connor-doubleclick-interv...

What's that other tech interview series by the same name? Oh yeah, VC-backed-swing-for-the-fences TC Founder Stories - http://techcrunch.com/tag/founder-stories/

Total coincidence, I'm sure :-P

I agree with you, though it seems like there was some decent money and time put into this (the video production seems professional), I can't figure out what 37sigs motivation for this is though. Eventual DVD sales?

We want to tell stories that we don't feel like are being told. The conflicts of building businesses to last versus sitting with all the risk.

This actually started as an email conversation with the Slicehost guys about some of these dilemmas. About living mojito island and so forth. And I really like the debate and thought that others would too.

Thanks! I found it really well done and interesting.

Love the production quality you guys put into these videos. Nice work!

37signals chief strength has been in building a following around their dogmas. Remember that their customers are small businesses; they've positioned themselves as an expert among their peers and interviews like this solidify that. That audience is what allows them to sell (generally mediocre) products into very crowded markets with a reasonable premium.

I understand their "pro-bootstrap/anti-VC funding" agenda, but I'm not quite sure why they are so anti-acquisition?

They's not so much anti-acquisition as they are warning that the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow may not be all that you seek or wish it to be.

I think it's largely out of a genuine love for the space.

Oh yeah, the interview quality is excellent. I don't think 37s are looking to sell any of this directly. This is just audience building.

I really enjoyed this. It was very informative and interesting. The production quality was excellent.

It seemed like the guys in the interview tried to talk over each other at times which was annoying, but overall the interview was great.

I'll own up to that. Talking over people is probably one of my worst tendencies, but I think it was a little exaggerated by the editing. It was necessarily to do a bit of chronological editing to get the tangents we covered into a better flow.

I was not familiar with Slicehost before watching these videos, but I can say their story and philosophy has really changed my outlook on things. Most importantly, the discussion about not being content with sitting around all day post-exit. I love to hear that the drive still exists, even if you've already made it (I'm sure this doesn't apply to everyone but is hopefully common).

This was a very powerful story and I'm glad you guys decided to share. It was certainly fun and I enjoyed working with you both. Time to build the next big thing with a lot of lessons learned :)


The thing I don't quite understand about all these stories 37 signals loves to blag about. What's in it for them? It doesn't seem like a revenue generator for them. Is it just ego? Are they setting up to enter a different market? Sales tactics for rails?

The production quality is excellent however.

"Sales tactics for Rails" :)? You do know that Rails is free, right?

We want to get stories out there that we don't think are covered well elsewhere. We've been sharing our own story, technique, and tools for more than a decade. This is just a continuation of that.

Build an audience.

> We want to get stories out there that we don't think are covered well elsewhere.

Keep doing it, please. It's a heck of a breath of fresh air for those of us that are right now building the brands and businesses that we want to own for the rest of our lives.

Is it a revenue generator for Red Bull when they run a flugtag day or sponsor extreme sports? Or for Nike or Adidas to sponsor basketball players? Not directly, but it builds the right image and draws the right audience to the brand. 37signals has enough resources to do this in a different space but on a relatively similar scale.

Growing their following.

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