Tue Oct 30, 2012, 10:19 PM
Omaha Steve (35,825 posts)
New York's Silicon Alley makes do after Sandy
By BARBARA ORTUTAY
NEW YORK (AP) - New York City's fast-paced technology scene, known as Silicon Alley, tried not to lose a step after Hurricane Sandy knocked out power lines, devastated the public transit system and left portions of the city flooded.
On Tuesday, companies from small startups to major players such as Google and Facebook, scrambled to balance employee safety with attempts to conduct business as usual. With laptops, smartphones and a dash of ingenuity tech companies powered through the adverse conditions- or at least tried to.
Silicon Alley is a booming part of New York City's economy. It is both a location - many technology startups are housed in the lower part of Manhattan- and a state of mind, since many companies have now sprouted across the East River in Brooklyn and elsewhere.
Like many New Yorkers, scads of technology workers toiled from home or hunkered down with coworkers who still had electricity. That was certainly the case among employees of trendy e-commerce site Fab.com on Tuesday. Fab's headquarters is located in the West Village, which was flooded and without power. At 6 a.m. on Tuesday, the company's 225 or so New York-based employees received an email titled "team together." The message asked whether people with electric power might open their homes to co-workers who were without power. In a few hours, 114 people responded.
FULL story at link.
Read more: http://apnews.excite.com/article/20121030/DA286ECG0.html
6 replies, 988 views
New York's Silicon Alley makes do after Sandy (Original post)
|Omaha Steve||Oct 2012||OP|
Response to leveymg (Reply #1)
Wed Oct 31, 2012, 04:55 PM
Xithras (13,485 posts)
2. Fairly standard startup mentality
Startups have a certain glamour, but they're brutal places to work. 60-80 hours a week, no overtime, spotty days off...there's a good reason that most startups don't want employees with families.
The big issue for many is simply reliability. Technology companies have a global reach, and New England is a fairly tiny part of the world. If a customer in Australia or Japan has a problem with your product and needs help, they're not going to care that your street outside is flooded. They're just going to get mad if nobody answers the phone. If you're racing to get a new feature on your site before anyone else can, your competitors in Bangalore or the Silicon Valley aren't going to slow down just because you're having power problems and can't keep up. They're going to finish it first and cut your company out of the market.
Employees at startups are generally highly competetive people who thrive in that type of environment, and who aren't going to complain if they're asked to host a few co-workers around their kitchen table.
Response to Xithras (Reply #2)
Wed Oct 31, 2012, 05:25 PM
leveymg (26,323 posts)
4. There's a line by Zicjerberg in "The Social Network" about that: "If those servers are down for even
a day, our entire reputation is irreversibly destroyed!"
The whole mentality is unbalanced 24/7 winner-take-all narcissism. It's destroying what remains of humanity in business.
Response to leveymg (Reply #4)
Wed Oct 31, 2012, 07:00 PM
Posteritatis (17,277 posts)
5. To give you an idea of how far that goes...
A day actually is a catastrophe for pretty much anything in the IT world, and that's still about 99.6% uptime. The benchmark a lot of major companies shoot for is 99.999% uptime, which tranalates to about five minutes a year of combined downtime between unexpected outages and "we're rebooting the server, back in a sec" sorts of things.
On the other hand, a friend of mine runs a small email/webhosting business on the side - couple hundred regular customers over several years, that sort of thing - that grew out of a hobby of his when he was younger. It's still an on-the-side thing as he has a fulltime regular job in a different field. He has, oh, five hours or so of downtime annually and doesn't push himself hard to keep it that way, so it's absolutely doable. (Of course, his server's in Brooklyn so he's rather over his annual quota, but is also fully aware that nobody in their right mind's going to hold that against him.)
In practice, reliability higher than that is getting into bragging-rights territory more than anything. There's a few businesses and industries that need that kind of wacky reliability, but not many.
A major site like Facebook or Google or Steam being knocked offline for days is the sort of IT disaster that would require enough preceding things going wrong first that it actually probably would justifiably damage the reputation of whoever it happened to, since it'd be a sign of a pretty significant organizational failure rather than just a single machine going down for awhile. That's why even minor outages with companies that big tend to hit the news.
For some context, DU shoots for around 97% downtime from what I can tell, with most of that 3% being the nightly downtime for backups and the like. That's just fine for a site like this, of course!
Response to Posteritatis (Reply #5)
Wed Oct 31, 2012, 09:19 PM
leveymg (26,323 posts)
6. A day down could be very expensive, given the punatives that are written into a lot of SLAs
Last edited Wed Oct 31, 2012, 09:22 PM USA/ET - Edit history (1)
In lieu of real tangible returns, a lot of e-commerce business models substitute promises of nearly perfect service that require people to be full-time slaves to keep their sites on-line (and the equity holders above water). The lack of a revenue stream also requires a lot of people to work for practically no cash on the hope the company makes a killing when (if) it goes public.
Something premodern, on the edge of starvation, and damned exploitative about a lot of this post-industrial cottage business.