The Etsy Saga: From Silos to Happy to Billions of Pageviews a Month
Monday, January 9, 2012 at 9:10AM
Todd Hoff in Example

Seldom do we get to hear stories of the bumps and bruses earned by a popular website during its formative years. Ross Snyder, a Sr. Software Engineer at Etsy, changes that with an engaging talk he gave at Surge 2011: Scaling Etsy: What Went Wrong, What Went Right.

Ross gives a detailed and honest account of how Etsy went from a raw startup in 2005, to a startup struggling with their success in 2007, to the mean, handmade, super scaling, ops driven machine they’ve become in 2011.

There’s lots to learn from this illuminating story of transformation:

Origin Story

2007 - The Architecture Then

2008 - The Failed Sprouter Experiment

2008 - The Great Etsy Culture Shift

Spring 2009 - The Way Forward: Part 1

Continuous Deployment - The Way Forward: Part 2

Spring 2009 - The Death of Sprouter - The Way Forward: Part 3

The Coming of the Shard - The Way Forward: Part 4

Spring 2011 - Sprouter Turned Off

2011 - The Etsy Architecture Now

Lessons Learned


While Etsy didn't quite live up to their NIH pledge, as they built most everything themselves, the culture/team observation, about how the team structure dictates software structure, is a deep one. As above so below, the ancients held. To see it so clearly drawn out in practice is remarkable. Interestingly, the transformation we see across the board in web development teams--agility, insurgency, small groups, independent action, loose coordination, goal driven-- are paralleled in the battle strategy and tactics of 4th Generation Warfare. We see centralization give way to a distributed core. It appears complex ever moving landscapes trigger a parallel evolution.

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