The time Tumblr founder David Karp almost crapped his skinny jeans

04.26.11 8 years ago

The new issue of the New Yorker Observer features a lengthy profile of painfully skinny Tumblr founder and CEO David Karp, the Ichabod Crane of the tech world who once remarked, “I feel bad for people who have to work out to look like (me).” Look, he’s young y’all (22 or something). One of these days he’ll learn not to show his ass in public, hopefully.

In the piece, the Observer’s Adrianne Jeffries recounts the panic that set in at the company’s New York City offices a few months ago when the entire blogging platform crashed — not exactly an uncommon occurrence — for days, just after it had secured a multi-million dollar venture capital funding deal through Roelof Botha, a partner at Sequoia Capital.

Tumblr signed a term sheet for $20 million with Sequoia Capital on a Friday; on Sunday, a database cluster crashed and the site went dark. “The day Tumblr broke the internet,” President John Maloney recalled, not fondly. The grueling task of getting the site’s 16 million blogs back up fell to lead engineer Matt Hackett and systems director Andrew Terng, who spent the next 40 hours coding and caffeinating. “Don’t read Twitter,” Mr. Karp warned them, as histrionic users were swearing at Tumblr and threatening to shoot themselves.

“Dear Sequoia Capital,” one commenter mocked over on the bilious Tumblr watchdog blog Get Off My Internets. “Please fund me with $25 million U.S. dollars. I will stick some photos of people cats into a scrapbook, with a couple of quotes from Joan Didion and David Foster Wallace and this will have the same effect on the world as Tumblr and also same profits.”

“It was pretty awkward for me,” investor Mr. Botha admitted. “The, excuse my language, ‘oh shit’ board meeting. ‘Oh my goodness, what have I gotten myself into.’

(Photo via Flickr)

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