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WWDC and Operation Gray Mode

I’m back in San Francisco this week which isn’t a strange thing.

After living here for ten years, I get back for work about once or twice a month. I’ve been keeping this routine (ritual?) for about 7 years now and while it can be taxing on the body at times, I thoroughly enjoy it too. 

I love this city, it’s people and it’s beauty. Lauren and I fell in love in this city. This place means a lot to me and always will. 

This particular week in SF is the week of Apple’s annual Wordwide Developers Conference. Millions of users and developers pay close attention to Apple’s announcements. One popular way to keep track of all news from WWDC is to follow #WWDC on Twitter. I was doing that much of the day on Monday like many of you. 

The most memorable WWDC for me has to be the year 2008. I had just joined Twitter’s board after our investment. We were in USV’s old conference room in NYC with @Fredwilson, Twitter team and the Summize team. The two companies were working together and in that meeting we were in final discussions that led to the Summize acquisition. 

The meeting was just a few weeks before WWDC and everyone was concerned about how to keep the site up during Steve Jobs keynote in particular. I don’t remember the anticipated TPS (tweets per second) but it was non trivial by any means. The team came up with Operation Gray Mode which @biz later wrote about in a blog post Sunday, June 8th 2008:

In the event that our estimates and preparations fail, we have designed a way to keep Twitter updates moving quickly through the system to their respective recipients. We have isolated and created on/off switches for many Twitter features. Should it become necessary to shed incoming load quickly, we can turn off features such as stats, pagination, and several others to preserve the reliability and timeliness of your Twitter timeline.

Both team working like crazy to pull it off. The acquisition also ended up being successful as well. 

Those days seem a long time ago. Fast forward to today where the service is extremely robust, following #WWDC was solid as rock and Operation Gray Mode is a thing of the past. The team has grown from around 15 employees to many hundreds. And today I’m excited to check out their new nest

This company has done incredible work over the years. Sometimes it takes a walk down memory lane to appreciate it all.