Facebook VP Heiliger to advise Clustrix

Ronny Kerr · October 11, 2010 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/128c

Jonathan Heiliger, technical operations VP, brings extra experience to Clustrix advisory board

ClustrixClustrix, developer of clustered database systems (CDS) for large-scale Internet applications, announced Monday that it has added former Cisco Systems EVP Don Listwin and technical operations VP Jonathan Heiliger to its advisory board.

“Clustrix has built a truly impressive Clustered Database System from which Internet-scale businesses can benefit,” said Heiliger in a statement.

He should know.

Heiliger currently oversees Facebook’s global infrastructure and IT systems, a position he once held as head of engineering at Walmart.com, which is why he will make an ideal Clustrix adviser. In the past, he advised “several early-stage companies in connection with Index Ventures and Sequoia Capital,” according to his Facebook bio.

CEO Paul Mikesell, who previously co-founded successful CDS company Isilon Systems, says Clustrix builds infrastructure for those companies handling a serious amount of data, like those involved in “big travel, e-commerce, and social websites.”

Having a stable and scalable infrastructure is absolutely fundamental to building a successful online service in the long-term. That sounds more obvious than it might actually be. Twitter, for example, is now infamous for suffering severe outages in mid-2009, when the microblogging site’s rocketing popularity reached a fever pitch. A year later, the site has mostly resolved its stability issues and luckily didn’t seem to lose many users in the process.

Clustrix is a San Francisco-based graduate of Silicon Valley incubator Y Combinator's 2006 class.

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What is Twitter?

Twitter is an online information network that allows anyone with an account to post 140 character messages, called tweets. It is free to sign up. Users then follow other accounts which they are interested in, and view the tweets of everyone they follow in their "timeline." Most Twitter accounts are public, where one does not need to approve a request to follow, or need to follow back. This makes Twitter a powerful "one to many" broadcast platform where individuals, companies or organizations can reach millions of followers with a single message. Twitter is accessible from Twitter.com, our mobile website, SMS, our mobile apps for iPhone, Android, Blackberry, our iPad application, or 3rd party clients built by outside developers using our API. Twitter accounts can also be private, where the owner must approve follower requests. 

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Twitter started as an internal project within the podcasting company Odeo. Jack Dorsey, and engineer, had long been interested in status updates. Jack developed the idea, along with Biz Stone, and the first prototype was built in two weeks in March 2006 and launched publicly in August of 2006. The service grew popular very quickly and it soon made sense for Twitter to move outside of Odea. In May 2007, Twitter Inc was founded.

How is Twitter built?

Our engineering team works with a web application framework called Ruby on Rails. We all work on Apple computers except for testing purposes. 

We built Twitter using Ruby on Rails because it allows us to work quickly and easily--our team likes to deploy features and changes multiple times per day. Rails provides skeleton code frameworks so we don't have to re-invent the wheel every time we want to add something simple like a sign in form or a picture upload feature.

How do you make money from Twitter?

There are a few ways that Twitter makes money. We have licensing deals in place with Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft's Bing to give them access to the "firehose" - a stream of tweets so that they can more easily incorporate those tweets into their search results.

In Summer 2010, we launched our Promoted Tweets product. Promoted Tweets are a special kind of tweet which appear at the top of search results within Twitter.com, if a company has bid on that keyword. Unlike search results in search engines, Promoted Tweets are normal tweets from a business, so they are as interactive as any other tweet - you can @reply, favorite or retweet a Promoted Tweet. 

At the same time, we launched Promoted Trends, where companies can place a trend (clearly marked Promoted) within Twitter's Trending Topics. These are especially effective for upcoming launches, like a movie or album release.

Lastly, we started a Twitter account called @earlybird where we partner with other companies to provide users with a special, short-term deal. For example, we partnered with Virgin America for a special day of fares on Virginamerica.com that were only accessible through the link in the @earlybird tweet.


What's next for Twitter?

We continue to focus on building a product that provides value for users. 

We're building Twitter, Inc into a successful, revenue-generating company that attracts world-class talent with an inspiring culture and attitude towards doing business.