A couple of weekends ago, on a whim to teach myself Java I had written up software for hosting chat rooms.
The server was the decrepit little Pentium 200 sitting under my desk.
The problem was that the server was crashing under the load of all the people using it.
It was AM and I was still sitting in ‘The Cave’ — the name we affectionately gave to the cubicles in the bowels of Wean Hall at Carnegie Mellon.
It was called ‘The Cave’ because it’s all under ground, with no natural light portals whatsoever.
The cave was kinda like Vegas — once you enter you lose track of time.
Day or night it looked the same, and smelled the same (and not too pleasant at times! I was in the cave late that night because I was firefighting.
In hindsight, I should have used Moore’s Law to solve the scalability issue.
But I was a student and buying machines in 1996 was still expensive.
I was chatting with one of the frequent and loyal users of my site that night and explaining to him how I didn’t have enough resources to keep up with the growth of the service.
Running thousands of concurrent users was pushing the limits of what the Java VM could handle on the P200.
That’s when he suggested, maybe I should start a company — and start charging for the chat rooms.
The bit flipped — I went from being a hacker, to being an entrepreneur.
There is nothing like your users telling you to charge for your service, because they want it and need it.