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Heroku’s early history: 4 home pages that made $212 million (flourish.org)
96 points by frabcus on May 5, 2012 | hide | past | favorite | 21 comments

Do several things well. Double down on the ones people like.

Got to say: I think that was one of the best summaries I've seen yet of the path to success. Excellent writeup.

This is all fantastic and crucial, but please don't assume that Heroku's success was solely due to these technological ideas. (It's the typical assumption us hackers make).

Being a YC company Heroku had immediate access to a bunch of startups (potential customers, AND early feedback givers), and I wonder how much biz dev such as talks at conferences, blogging, social-mediaing, etc, they did in parallel to these tech advances.


Most people don't get the 'schlep' as pg wrote about recently. Startup success stories aren't all about One Amazing Idea and the code that goes with it. It's about the whole ride.

Absolutely! Ironically I was investigating Heroku in order to think more about markets, and why its market worked. But I can see that my writeup ends up focussing more on the apparently technical side.

It's really about the market aspects of the technical side though. Why people didn't like the online code editor, but did like the straightforward solving of the Rails hosting and scaling problem. Why that particular product was a successful route to a PaaS business at that time, when often other apparently similar ones have failed.

Would love to learn more about Heroku's biz dev stuff that you talk about!

See also the (great) video by Adam of Heroku at the 2011 Startup Lessons Learned conference

"The Epic Pivot - Heroku's Story" (20mins): http://www.justin.tv/startuplessonslearned/b/286516447

Article seemed to have some amount of credibility until the part about Mac OSX making shell code "hip" around 2009 that until then would have scared Windows users... (wtf)

Even developers on Windows almost universally use IDE's. It's only the Unix platforms that have a real shell culture anymore.

Yeah, sorry - that part was a bit brief, and is only a hunch. I genuinely think though that the command line is more popular now than, say, 10 years ago.

I agree with you, to be honest.

Also, nice article. Well written and interesting.

I think it's simply related to the fact that the Mac OS has become more popular, not necessarily the command line.

Only a correlation. Regular users generally don't use the command line.

Normal users, sure. But I wonder what fraction of developers use regularly/have ever used commandline tools?

I can certainly see some environments in which you might never be exposed, in things like Visual Studio, XCode, or Eclipse.

My recollection is that Windows has never really had a good native shell, but I've not used win7 for any length of time, and I'm not sure if Powershell ever became a thing. There's also cygwin, but I'm pretty sure that'll be more remote still.

I have a suspicion that the reason Github appears so mac-dominated is because of the pain of dealing with git under windows, especially when tortoise-git wasn't around/stable. Then again, there always seemed to be a heavy rails/OSX connection, but I don't know exactly where that comes from.

DHH and 37signals are vocal Mac users, and that's where Rails came from.

Powershell never really took off except for admins doing stuff with exchange and what not. I'm an iOS developer sitting amongst 20 odd .NET devs and I'm the only one I ever see using a shell.

Part of the issue with Windows is that the out-of-the-box scripting capability just wasn't there. Compare writing a batch script with a shell or perl script.

Add to that inconsistencies in how commands handled spaces in names and issues with having to escape the '\'s in generated command lines. I know I would have avoided all of it if I wasn't being paid (well) to do it.

I agree that Windows lacks a good shell. But Git is easy under Windows7 and Powershell. It's the one of the few tools that was easily installed and usable under Windows. (Though Rails and Node have joined the ranks recently).

Lots of power users have switched to Macs in recent years as well.

If you are using Rails you are going to be using the commandline at some point.

I enjoyed the article.

That part just kinda seemed like you were letting your personal bias through a bit too overtly for it to be left uncommented on.

No I definitely think it is.

But I would attribute that more to the rise of cloud computing. A lot more people have access to remote UNIX servers than they normally would in the past.

Very nice post. I would love to see more of these!

Nice post/concept/analysis. Keep it up :)

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