HootSuite Raises $165M In Series B Funding

Social media management startup HootSuite recently announced the finalization of a whopping $165 million in Series B funding in a round led by Insight Venture Partners with additional participation from Accel Partners and OMERS Ventures. HootSuite is one of the five vendors initially selected by Twitter as Ads API Partners to enable customers to manage advertising campaigns from within the HootSuite platform instead of logging into Twitter. Additionally, HootSuite uses its dashboards and analytics to enable brand management across other social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Foursquare. The company recently announced revenue growth of 300% for Q2 of 2013 in comparison with Q2 of 2012, over 7 million users worldwide and integration with 56 applications.

As a result of the investment, Jeff Lieberman, Managing Director of Insight Venture Partners, Ryan Sweeney, Managing Partner at Accel and John Ruffolo, CEO of OMERS, will join HootSuite’s board of directors. HootSuite’s finalization of Series B funding builds upon previous funding rounds of $1.9M and $20M that brings the total funding raised by HootSuite to $187M. The funding will be used for global expansion that includes hiring resources in Latin America and Europe. The investment may also be used to finance strategic acquisitions in the social media management, dashboards and analytics space. In an interview with TechCrunch, HootSuite CEO Ryan Holmes noted that the funding round takes the pressure off the company to prematurely evolve into an IPO or an acquisition.

HootSuite is currently “cash flow neutral” and, according to Ad Age, charges “enterprise clients anywhere from five figures annually up to the high six figures.” A recent article in Business Insider by Jim Edwards estimated that HootSuite’s revenue is anywhere between $50 million and $200 million based on some back of the envelope calculations that include the data point that the company has 246 Fortune 500 customers as noted by CEO Holmes in an interview with Bloomberg. Since HootSuite’s revenue is a fraction of Twitter’s advertising revenue, Edwards intuited that it would not be unreasonable to conclude that Twitter’s advertising revenue is on the order of $1 billion. As rumors of Twitter’s IPO proliferate and Facebook’s share price passes its initial IPO price, the industry should expect HootSuite to consolidate its early traction in the Twitter and Facebook advertising space. The company’s roster of customers includes PepsiCo, Fox, Sony Music, the National Hockey League (NHL) and Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc.


Twitter Aims For 100% Uptime Based On Movement From Ruby To Java

Twitter is well on its way toward its goal of remaining fully accessible 24/7 all over the world. In a blog post the day after the 2012 presidential election, Mazen Rawashdeh, VP of Infrastructure Operations Engineering, remarked that the election not only shattered Twitter’s records for election-related tweeting, but also illustrated the capacity of Twitter’s infrastructure to withstand sustained stresses in traffic over several hours. Election night on Tuesday, November 6 featured the following Tweeting data points and statistics:

•Over 31 million election-related Tweets were transmitted on November 6
•Twitter users averaged 9,965 Tweets per second (TPS) from 8:11pm to 9:11pm PDT
•Twitter experienced a spike in TPS at 8:20pm PDT of 15,107 TPS
•The one minute peak was 874,560 Tweets per minute (TPM)

While these numbers well surpassed notable Twitter high points such as 6,939 TPS for 2011 New Year’s Eve, or the 7,196 TPS that followed Japan’s stunning victory over the United States in the 2011 Women’s World Cup soccer final, they also pointed to Twitter’s ability to support sustained increases in traffic such as the near 10,000 TPS for a full hour that ensued as the world gradually learned of the projections of President Obama’s re-election.

Rawashdeh attributes the robustness of Twitter’s infrastructure to its optimization of Ruby runtime and gradual movement away from Ruby to Java. In March 2011, Twitter revealed the results of their optimization of Ruby runtime related to reducing CPU usage required for the garbage collector on Twitter.com. CPU usage fell from 18.5% to 14% as a result of creating two garbage heaps as opposed to one. Separately, Twitter directed mobile-related traffic to a Java Virtual Machine stack that avoided the Ruby stack entirely as part of the larger project of migrating from Ruby to Java altogether.

Twitter began moving away from Ruby to Java as early as 2008, “when the company’s Ruby-based message queuing system “hit a wall,” according to former developer Alex Payne. Because Ruby lacked in performance with respect to “long running processes” that were additionally “memory intensive,” the company opted for a Java-based path as reported in The Register as follows:

Twitter’s solution was to migrate some of its Ruby code to a new server stack running on the JVM. Initially, the company’s development team avoided stock Java in favor of Scala, an alternative JVM language that combines aspects of object-oriented and functional programming. Today, Twitter’s software is built from a mix of Scala and ordinary Java code.

Fans of Ruby are likely to take issue with Twitter’s gradual but highly purposeful migration toward Java. Nevertheless, the larger issue highlighted by Twitter’s impressive performance on election day is the need for cloud-based platforms to remain up and running 100% of the time, in all geographies, even in the wake of sustained and event-driven traffic. Outages such those recently experienced by Amazon Web Services will be gradually considered unacceptable by the industry, meaning that cloud-based platforms will increasingly need to channel more of their talent and resources into the development of failsafe infrastructures that are capable of withstanding pressures imposed by natural disasters and dramatic spikes in traffic. 100% uptime as opposed to 99.5% or even 99.9% is likely to become the norm and expectation and anything short of that will be viewed as unacceptable.