Why We Do This

October 16, 2007

Occasionally, we receive feedback from you that really reminds us why we’re doing this.

I recently received an e-mail describing the impact of a letter that arrived the day before a dear family friend passed away. I paused for a few minutes after reading the description of him smiling as he read and re-read the letter and looked at the included pictures.

Making just one moment like that possible justifies what we’ve put into this. And this is just one of the stories we’ve received from all of you.

Each time, I’m left with the sense that we’re actually doing something good. It’s easy to get caught up in the details of programming, support, marketing, and sales. It really helps to be reminded of the lives connected.

In any case, I wanted to share some sense of what this means to us. And I wanted to publicly thank all of you who have shared your stories with us.

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Some of the team was up at the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco this week.

We discovered a few companies there that look mighty interesting. MAPLight is putting together a database and visualization tool to see the relationship between campaign contributions and votes. Swivel, a place to share your data, launched officially at the show. We’re excited by the possibilities. In the same way that online photo sharing makes it easy for bloggers to add photography to their posts, Swivel makes it easy to add data. The web just got smarter. Do I hear MAPLight/Swivel mashup? Yes I do!

Also caught a great presentation from ThinkFree, which unveiled APIs for embedding document viewers and editors in your own web applications. This could become the killer tool for Office 2.0. Suddenly applications that could only be imagined before become easy and practical. We can’t wait to give them a test-drive ourselves.

And there’s also this firm from Washington. They say they’ve got an OS. What was it called? Doors? Hinges? I forget.

For all of our users whom we met at the show, it was great saying hello and seeing you in person!

Cupcake
Well, Postful Private Beta is now officially one week old. I just wanted to say, on behalf of the Postful team: it’s been incredible.

First, I’d like to thank each and every one of you for your comments and your feedback. Positive or negative, criticism or compliments, please keep them coming. It’s been exhilarating and insightful. Talking to you guys after a long, hard slog of development has really reminded us of why we love this business.

Now, there have been lots of feature requests, and we’ve got plenty of wonderful things on our development docket. For the next couple of months, expect a major new feature from us once every couple of weeks. And, of course, stay tuned to this blog, where we’ll be making all our announcements.

Postful in the News

April 10, 2007

Shameless, I know, but I thought I’d put up some links to early discussions of the Postful beta. This is a very exciting phase for any startup, as you begin to get broad feedback from early users and reviewers. Suddenly, the hypotheticals about what’s important and how people will respond are replaced by very direct feedback.

In any case, I’d love to put up links to all the sites that have pointed to us, but I’ll content myself with giving you a few samples:

So, in grand slashdot tradition, “first post” was claimed on Postful. Yes, we’ve sent other test messages through, but this one was the first after we launched the beta (so, by that logic, you’ll have another try when we have our public launch).

Pretty much every startup out there owes a huge debt to friends and family who faithfully test, provide feedback, and just put up with the hours we put in. My brother, Matthew, has been part of our testing from the beginning and he claimed the honor of sending the first letter yesterday (which he shared with me and kindly gave permission to share with all of you):

First Post

Happy Accidents

March 22, 2007

We had our first two users signup today! Now, don’t start rushing in yet, this doesn’t mean we’ve launched. I’d just temporarily left our signup page publicly accessible and they got there at the right time.

What’s fantastic is that we’ve already received great feedback and suggestions from the two of them. It leaves me eager to let everyone else in and find out the uses that Postful is going to be put to. But, I suppose patience is a virtue…

So, for now, I’ll leave it with a hearty welcome to users one and two (not their real names). It’s great to have you on board (and thanks for all the help you’ve already provided).

We recently decided to switch our hosting to TextDrive (part of Joyent). Why would we switch our entire system over to a new architecture about a week prior to launch (and, in the process, probably delay our launch at least a few weeks)? Mostly it came down to recognizing what we do best and where we needed help.

The fact is that we aren’t experts in deployment (shocking, I know). Given that we’ve already given up things like sleep, time with friends and family, etc, it wasn’t clear where the time to gain this expertise was going to come from.

We had deployed and prepared our system to launch on a system of fairly heavy-duty linux-based servers. But part of the reason the system needed to be heavy duty is that we had no confidence in being able to scale out quickly. It’s a bad thing when you recognize that you may have troubles if you succeed.

Around this time, I read this blog post (joyeur had been on my feedreader for awhile). 4000 req/s sounded pretty good and having long heard of TextDrive as the premier Rails hosting company, I thought I’d at least put in a request for more information.

After talking to Jason Hoffman, I was ready to go. I had a list of dream features that I wanted to build into our deployment at some point. Jason, in the course of telling me about their accelerator setup (now with more options), basically mentioned everything on my list and told me how it was already built-in to their basic offering. This… pleased me.

I’ll be posting a full review of our experience with Joyent soon. For now, let me just say that it has relieved a huge amount of stress in terms of our future scalability and ability to handle growth. The choice was a couple of weeks of extra work at this point (transition time to the new system) versus having a system unable to grow when we need it. A pretty easy call.