Love the serendipity moral; loved surviving the vicissitudes. The story reads well.
There's a lacuna between Codentical and Parallel X: 1. people willing to pay for it; 2. a spark went off; 3. "validate before you build"
You say you did have paying users, so why did you stop? What was the spark? I'm guessing that there weren't enough paying users - but that's not stated. This makes an inexplicable gap as you race down the homestretch of the story. It's not a huge problem, but since the rest of the story is so great, it's a shame to mar it.
Also, the story would be absolutely compelling if you mentioned the specific CPU, GPU and task that gave the incredible speedups. Your reader wonders, "Why aren't they mentioned?"
(not parent) Yes, since highend GPUs have 1,000's of cores, it makes sense (though I wouldn't expect one GPU core to be faster than one CPU core.)
Please, could you quote the CPU and GPU for which you got that 350x speedup? Also, for the 1000x speedup.
(also, it would be interesting to know the CPU/GPU that gave the original 1 hour to 0.2 sec (18,000x speedup) - I'm guessing other factors like network latency, low-end CPU + high-end CPU, optimized code etc were part of it.)
Search engines have zero switching costs, so mainstream PR is a key competitive advantage for Google (not engineer PR). Their massive capital investment in server farms (esp. for google suggest) is another.
20% time was a long-term strategy to lead new technologies instead of being disrupted by them. Google+ is a short-term strategy to avoid being disrupted by facebook.
Long-term self-interest is often close to "good" (so close it may be why it's good).
oblig snark: Instead of turning evil, Google be like Sun - die, and be reanimated by evil piecemeal.
1. reasoning from first principles is a really cool, powerful and awfully difficult. Most importantly, it forces you to consider what the question actually is (see Douglas Adams).
2. the BOM cost is an interesting perspective, but is a terrible example of the above, because it doesn't go back to what the problem really is (energy), and also excludes every solution except batteries made of the same materials, and therefore likely based on the same principles.
3. the analogy to BOM for software is information (what do we know? what do we want?). While this is closer to true first principles than BOM, it assumes the problem statement, and thus precludes reconceptualization - changing the specification, changing the requirements, changing the context.
BTW describing a startup as the "x of y" is a way to communicate it succinctly, and not necessarily what it really is. It's ad copy.
Not sure if this salacious writeup, image and title are really helping them, but publicity is publicity I guess. At least the site doesn't present itself as a hook-up/prostitution service.
Sharing a room is pretty standard for backpackers/hostels, also for overnight train and ship travel.
Actually, this service would be convenient for Why Cruise Ships are My Favorite Remote Work Location (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6697416), where he's sharing the cabin with a friend.
I don't think there are any laptops comparable to the Acer C720 performance (Haswell) at a comparable price. It benchmarks at about half a 2013 Macbook Air (also Haswell).
That said, I'd whack ubuntu on it, and love it as a netbook.
But I do doubt chromebooks will be big hit, they're neither fish nor foul, since tablets stole netbooks' market.