With Tarsnap, I can simply run a cron that creates a backup with the date in the name and I'm done. I never have to eliminate old versions since they all take the storage space of an incremental. I never have to worry about where we're storing the tapes (a crappy basement a block from our main building shudder). I never have to worry about people getting past the little security in the building. Most importantly, I don't need to do anything. The cron does it. I don't have to monitor tape capacity, constantly test whether the tapes are any good, deal with incrementals vs. full backups, etc.
There's no longer any excuse for having poor backups. Tarsnap allows you to do full backups as often as you want while only using the space of incremental. It's paranoid secure and replicated on S3.
Congratulations! You deserve for this service to become the premier backup solution for many IT departments.
To be honest, I wouldn't have posted this at all, except for one important thing -- the fact that tarsnap is self-supporting (as I mention in the post) means that people have a much stronger reason to trust that it will continue to exist in the future.
"Now, this is only under the most limited definition of profitable: In February, tarsnap had more income than expenses; but it isn't paying me a salary yet. Tarsnap isn't making enough profit to pay for my living expenses (Paul Graham uses the wonderful phrase "ramen profitable" to describe this), never mind matching what I could earn by working elsewhere; and it hasn't made enough profit to cover its accrued losses (either those in the three months between moving into public beta and becoming profitable, or the expenses during the lengthy unpaid private beta testing period), never mind matching what I could have earned over the past two years if I had decided not to work on tarsnap."
He is not "ramen profitable" by that definition.
Profitability, heck, revenues is a freaking achievement, and we should be congratulating him -- not arguing over semantics.
The reason I and others get a bit knee-jerk-y with the "profitable" line is that it's said often here on HN of businesses that aren't.
To me that's a fundamental understanding of business and is worrying.
After that, it's all a question of scale. PG's definition of ramen profitable is useful because it gets rid of all the accidental revenue. Sure, if my aunt bought my software once, it shows somehone is willing to buy my product. But not really. By setting a bar just a tad higher than just "1 sale is good enough", it becomes a useful metric.
Similarly, FictionAlley pulled in several thousand in donations a year, but nowhere near enough to support its 200+ person staff had they not all been volunteers.
I still contend that being able to support founder living expenses is a much, much higher bar than just being able to support the operational costs of your product. It's not too hard to do $100/month or so in AdSense alone.
Right, but there isn't enough information to determine if this is not what he means by profitable. I am also a hacker, I know how much money it costs to run something like this. It could mean that 1 person paid $50 and the AWS bill and web hosting was only $49.
Anyway, I don't find this conversation interesting anymore so congrats on the profitability.
I read the article. If you disappear, the business dies. It does not keep on running and making a profit. Employees are the most important part in a startup. Especially in a one person startup. A definition of profitability that does not include employee salaries is bogus.
Is what I think is happening here, is all.
1. Tarsnap is profitable. Its revenue exceeds the cost of keeping it running.
2. I am not profitable. My revenue does not exceed the cost of keeping me running. (Well, living. I've never been very good at running.)
3. I could get a job, move to the middle of Africa, and get hit by a bus, and tarsnap would keep on running. Tarsnap doesn't need me on a day-to-day basis; while it is true that I'm still writing code for tarsnap, that is appropriately accounted for as a capital cost, not as an operating cost.
* You still have to invoice/bill customers and do the books.
* You still have to keep up to date with Amazon web services, which could change out from under you.
* You still have to be responsive to bugs in your software, which will inevitably occur.
I take your point though; you've architected the business so that it depends very minimally on your own infrastructure and labor, and so its operational costs are very low.
Actually, no. That's all done automatically.
You're right about the rest -- but so far "bugs in my code" is very correlated to "new features in my code", so if I get hit by a bus it's unlikely that many new bugs will be found.
Most business folk wouldn't even consider "ramen profitable" really profitable. Until the business is operating at a sustainable level, it's not profitable. Just because nobody switches the server off doesn't mean that a business is alive.
What if I pay myself hourly for the time I spend keeping tarsnap running?
You're arguing for "authentic profitability," or some such. You make fair points, but since TFA was quite clear, this really is just semantical masturbation.
"What guarantee can I provide that the tarsnap service will continue to operate?" - lots of upstarts get this question, and rightfully so. I've been wondering, would it be possible to set up some kind of foundation that would take over the data if a company goes out of business? This way users can get to their data, and port it to somewhere else, even if the company goes bankrupt. If it is possible this would give a lot of potential customers one less worry.
- $0.30 / GB of bandwidth
- $0.30 / GB / month of storage
From what I see, you could host this on AWS and be "profitable" with just one customer, right? I mean, if your definition of profitability includes only your variable non-staff costs, which seems to be how you're defining it...
If EC2 instances were free, sure. :-)
It's a pretty big thing to be able to say that your service will stick around.
Perhaps we can call it "beer profitable", as in, you can't actually live off your profits but you can buy the occasional beer with them.
I mean profitable: Income (which does not include unearned revenue) greater than expenses.
Didn't really mean to wade in here. Congrats on getting some liftoff with tarsnap.
Tarsnap business has money coming in from paying users, and that is enough to cover the non-human costs of servicing those users.
It's not a claim of amazing success or resiliency or world-beating awesomeness, it's a statement of progress, a milestone, a reassurance that things are moving in the right direction, that tarsnap isn't wallowing in "I have users but still no income" land.
Stop reading too much into it and then arguing about how much of a misleading dirty stinking lie it is.
You're spoiling a positive progress report with a meaningless argument and at the same time implying cperviva is misleading/lying, and stupid/incompetent. In short, you're trolling.