Twitter-storm: Blaine leaves, blame flies

by Mathew on April 23, 2008 · 32 comments

Update 2:

More turmoil at Twitter: Lee Mighdoll, the engineering VP that Twitter just hired in January (!) has left the company as well.

Update:

My friend Mike McDerment of FreshBooks interviewed Blaine during his road-trip to the Future of Web Apps conference, and the video is here. And if it’s video you’re interested in, Mike Arrington defends his post in a video comment that he posted on TechCrunch using the new Seesmic video-comment feature. He says Blaine “owns” the failure as chief architect, and should have owned up to it instead of getting his friends to attack TechCrunch and other critics.

Original post:

If you need any proof that Twitter is the hot topic in the blogosphere at the moment, all you have to do is look at the volume of blog posts about the service — and related services such as Tweetscan and Twist (Twitter trends) — on sites like TechCrunch. The latest brushfire has to do with the departure of Blaine Cook as the outage-plagued service’s chief architect. Mike Arrington says that it’s obvious that he failed to scale the service properly, and therefore it’s a good thing he’s gone (and has apparently been replaced by a couple of new hires).

As support for this argument, Mike uses a presentation that Blaine made at a conference last year, in which he claimed that scaling applications that use Ruby on Rails is “easy” and suggested that Twitter’s problems were mostly behind it. As anyone who has been using the service much over the past year knows, that statement was… well, overly optimistic. Is that Blaine Cook’s fault or is it that Rails doesn’t scale? There’s no question that Twitter usage has skyrocketed over the past six months or so. For his part, Blaine says the departure was amicable and that it was just time for him to move on.

There are plenty of comments from supporters (ironically, using Twitter) who say that the former Twitter architect is a class act and a great software engineer, including Tom Coates and from Tara Hunt. Others seem to support Mike’s case that if you make a public claim that your software is easy to scale and then you fail to do that consistently, then you deserve to be held to account for that. In any case, it’s more than a little ironic that while this blogstorm is swirling, Blaine is presenting at the Web 2.0 conference about how to scale a Web application.

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