October 24, 2014

SpyLOG Was sold the other day, time to look back

Friends are pointing me to the article saying SpyLOG, the startup which I co-founded back in 1999 was sold the other day to the MasterHost. The amount is not disclosed but it is estimated to be $3M – amount not worth mentioning for USA market but quite decent one for Russian Internet Market.

So I guess after all this project with not easy destiny can be called successful.

It is especially Interesting another month we announced our own startup project ClickAider which operates in related market. This deal reassures us there are money to be earned in the area.

In general looking back to my years spent with SpyLOG (1999-2002) I find them to be stressful but very rewarding in terms of knowledge and experience. We had great Development team with our team members later going to play important roles in projects like Begun.RU, Mamba.RU being leaders in the Russian market in respected area. Konstantin Osipov who worked for SpyLOG for number of years is now Dev Lead for MySQL, Dmitry Lenev who was CTO after my departure is also Engineer for MySQL.

It is with SpyLOG I learned a great deal about MySQL, LAMP and building scalable architectures in general. We were one of the first users to start using Innodb and instantly at TB scale. We found massive amount of MySQL and Innodb bugs and at that time Monty were reading bugs lists himself so we had those fixed quickly.

Looking back at SpyLOG architecture I would not have done many things the same way again. True now LAMP technologies are much better developed and hardware is much faster but some things were just done the way they were done due to lack of experience. I favored too complex solutions a lot, partially due to my formal Computer Science education which demanded 100% correct results while were were good enough alternatives. I also probably micromanaged too much and tried to get going too many projects at the same time. A lot of these projects never saw the sun light or were closed after beta testing (sometimes for political rather than technical reasons)

I also was too hard on people many times, fired few guys I should not have been and dealt with few others in a ways I’m not proud right now. I also should have shared more company details with our employees. Though that was consistent with Russian traditions of that time and it was a great contrast for me to end up at MySQL with Tom Basil as my boss. It was great experience to be in employee skin and to see how you can be treated and how you would like to be treated.

The other interesting discovery for me was to find out how much you can do just by sales and marketing. 5 years after my departure SpyLOG did not have any significant changes in the architecture and only few simple functionality extensions designed (some thing were in works when I left) but still by Sales, Marketing and Partnerships SpyLOG was able to get more revenue than any other company does on the same market.

It also changed my opinion on software survival. Even though we did not have the best docs ever and all original software authors and original admins are long gone it could still be kept more or less operational all this time. So software authors are not as irreplaceable as it may sound. It costs to replace them but it can be done.

What also interests me is why MasterHost would buy SpyLOG. Perhaps I should ask. The official explanation to provide extra service for hosting customers for differentiation purposes does not sounds enough for me. I would expect it is massive SpyLOG coverage what they are after which allows to get a lot of intelligence on the sites and market areas out where. This information can be used for many things including global visitor tracking and selling targeted advertisements based on users visitor profile.

About Peter Zaitsev

Peter managed the High Performance Group within MySQL until 2006, when he founded Percona. Peter has a Master's Degree in Computer Science and is an expert in database kernels, computer hardware, and application scaling.

Comments

  1. Seun Osewa says:

    What does spylog do? The article you linked to is a Russian one!

  2. peter says:

    Yes. SpyLOG worked on Russian marked this is why article is in Russian :)
    SpyLOG does stuff some kind of similar to Google Analytics or HitBox.

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