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Blue Gecko is an 11 Year Old Remote Database Administration Startup (Video)

Roblimo posted more than 2 years ago | from the you-no-longer-need-to-be-in-silicon-valley-to-start-a-tech-company dept.

Businesses 63

A company that has been going since 2001 is not exactly a startup, but Blue Gecko co-founder Sarah Novotny says that maintaining a startup mindset has helped her company keep going this long, with no end in sight. If you are thinking about starting an IT business (either now or in the future), especially one you hope will have remote clients and possibly a far-flung workforce, you should listen carefully to what Sarah has to say.

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Label the adverts. (5, Insightful)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#39558829)

Might want to disable comments too, or sponsors will get annoyed at all the people insulting them.

Re:Label the adverts. (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#39558883)

Off topic, but what happened to the big + and - buttons next to stories? Being able to mark a story as notthebest, slownewsday or dupe made Slashdot a lot better.

Re:Label the adverts. (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39558887)

Slashdot trolls are the worst!

Re:Label the adverts. (4, Insightful)

crazyjj (2598719) | more than 2 years ago | (#39558983)

Try posting an ad over at 4chan sometime. At least /. will just make fun of you.

Re:Label the adverts. (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 2 years ago | (#39569959)


Oblig (3, Funny)

rossdee (243626) | more than 2 years ago | (#39558893)

Do you save 15% on your car insurance

Re:Oblig (-1, Flamebait)

GmExtremacy (2579091) | more than 2 years ago | (#39558901)

Obligatory: But do they use Gamemaker?

Get Used To This? (5, Insightful)

TheNinjaroach (878876) | more than 2 years ago | (#39558911)

So should I get used to seeing ads like this as an everyday occurrence on Slashdot? Taco must have known something was up.

Re:Get Used To This? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39559041)

Agreed, what is wrong with this site.
Have been a member for 10 years or at least as long as I can remember. For the past year I haven't even bothered to log in or making any meaningful discussion.

Next time I see an infomercial like this, I'm spamming my own company site on at least 20 post. Just for the fun of it.

Re:Get Used To This? (5, Insightful)

water-and-sewer (612923) | more than 2 years ago | (#39559073)

Ya. I've been reading Slashdot for about 12 years now, but it's increasingly clear this site is headed the route of "PCWorld" with articles that provide nothing but adspace. Increasingly, these "ask Slashdot" things are looking like corporate research too.

Not sure how much they sold us out for, but I hope it was worth it. This place is starting to smell funky.

Re:Get Used To This? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39559147)

If they throw in a fe wtop 10 lists they can be the next Tech Republic too.

Re:Get Used To This? (0)

GmExtremacy (2579091) | more than 2 years ago | (#39559187)

You need to switch to Gamemaker.

Re:Get Used To This? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39559709)

I've been with Slashdot since before it was Slashdot and it has just taken a fucking nose-dive since Taco left. I don't want video content and I certainly don't want this pathetic "a guy at a strip mall copyright lawyer's office paid us to do an ad for him on here" bullshit. Slashdot has sunk even below Gizmodo, GDGT, Engadget, The Verge and other similar bullshit spammy craptastic link-baiting sites.

Re:Get Used To This? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39559275)

Taco probably knew this day was coming. What a crappy post. I hate videos and ad-verts.

Re:Get Used To This? (2)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 2 years ago | (#39565141)


I was also disappointed by the distinct lack of April Fools stories this past Sunday too.


That was the one day a year, that it was ok for crappy, sometimes even funny stories to run....I'll miss those.

Re:Get Used To This? (2)

bobaferret (513897) | more than 2 years ago | (#39559727)

I thought you all weren't giving it a chance, So I decided to actually watch it.... Although something can probably be learned by listening between the lines. I have to agree that this is the most obvious ad I've ever seen on /. And I've been here a long long long time, but like many people didn't get an account until they started advertising on the site, and you needed an account to disable the ads. Maybe they'll add a feature to the site that let's you take some additional step that filters out shit like this.

On the other hand (5, Interesting)

SirGarlon (845873) | more than 2 years ago | (#39558913)

On the other hand, if her company is still stuck in "startup mode" after 11 years, maybe she is not the person to listen to.

Re:On the other hand (4, Funny)

crazyjj (2598719) | more than 2 years ago | (#39558951)

Nonsense, my cousin has been in startup mode for longer than that. My other relatives call it "unemployed and living in his parents' basement" but I think they're just being Negative Nancies.

Re:On the other hand (-1)

ckaminski (82854) | more than 2 years ago | (#39559039)

Some people don't want to be an IBM or a Microsoft.
Basically anyone who's not a narcissist.

Re:On the other hand (1)

tibit (1762298) | more than 2 years ago | (#39560119)

I agree with the first sentence, but you just botched it horribly in the second one. Growing to be a big company doesn't make you a narcissist, sorry.

Re:On the other hand (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39561481)

That's a neet [] idea.

Re:On the other hand (3, Insightful)

Tharsman (1364603) | more than 2 years ago | (#39559661)

I was thinking: does anyone knows what "startup mode" means? Because on every place I gone, it means "we force people to work insane hours, and work like slaves and for little money in exchange of worthless stock options that may never be worth anything but they think may make them rich if we manage to sell the company out."

In other words "startup mode" after eleven years, extremely bad thing!!!

Re:On the other hand (0)

datavirtue (1104259) | more than 2 years ago | (#39561717)

Wake-up call, you are not entitled to anything you little douche. Building companies takes a lot of dedication and risk. From your attitude it seems you are not cut out for it. Go back to your sure thing--wage slave.

Re:On the other hand (2)

Tharsman (1364603) | more than 2 years ago | (#39562079)

This little "douche" has two self-owned businesses, so I'm rather familiar with how to work hard AND smart to start up something.

Now go back to your daddy's basement and enjoy your 12 hour job at some company that keeps promising you will someday afford your rent or house if you keep overworking for stock options. Go ahead and keep pressing snooze on YOUR wake-up calls.

Re:On the other hand (1)

aweol (2128298) | more than 2 years ago | (#39563405)

As a former employee of a start-up, who had no "stake" in the business start-up mode is awful for moral and for the health of the employees. Often demanding 70+hr work weeks minimum, as a salaried employee. I was actually verbally told the 70hr number once was their expectation. Family life, personal health take a huge toll and on-top of this it was a IT start-up, so often times I was unable to sleep more than 3-hours straight without a call. That basically a recipe for quick burn-out which as the employee is more than just "losing some talent" now its a mental health, physical health and very personal issue that you and your family will have to deal with. Start-up mode is just a way to victimize employee's, unfortunately a vast majority of them personally learn why those environments are so toxic.

Re:On the other hand (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39568415)

Such a wuss. I routinely work 60-70 hours a week, and I don't work for a start-up. That's the norm for many consulting companies, especially here in Japan. I've been working these hours for more than 4 years, and I don't have any mental health issues a little alcohol can't solve.

Re:On the other hand (1)

datavirtue (1104259) | more than 2 years ago | (#39561681)

Overnight successes never happen overnight. The media loves to peg them as instantaneous Cinderella stories though. Start up mode is most likely from five to ten years at the least--depending on the business. Entrepreneurship can be a harsh mistress. Anyone know if she is cute? I can't see through the crappy overlay. I swear I see boobies there but.....

Pathetic (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39558915)

These videos are pathetic. Slashdot is a pathetic stagnant turd.

Not experienced with high load systems, it seems.. (4, Funny)

OliWarner (1529079) | more than 2 years ago | (#39558917)

You'd think database experts would know how to keep their site up, wouldn't you?

Sorry that's unfair. The site is still up but I can make and eat a sandwich between pageloads.

Re:Not experienced with high load systems, it seem (3, Funny)

crazyjj (2598719) | more than 2 years ago | (#39558971)

Jeez, give them another 11 years and they'll get to it. Everyone is in such a rush these days.

Re:Not experienced with high load systems, it seem (1)

isorox (205688) | more than 2 years ago | (#39562083)

You'd think database experts would know how to keep their site up, wouldn't you?

Sorry that's unfair. The site is still up but I can make and eat a sandwich between pageloads.

What kind of sandwich? I'm hungry but I'm out of bread :(

Ambiguous Writing! (4, Funny)

AnotherAnonymousUser (972204) | more than 2 years ago | (#39558921)

I legitimately thought from the headline that it was a startup founded by an 11 year old. Which would have been really awesome.

Re:Ambiguous Writing! (4, Informative)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#39558995)

Database design and admin has a steep learning curve. A dedicated 11 year old couldn't do much worse than the average DB schemas I see every day. Starting up in a field where the bar is extremely low is probably a good strategy. My first thought is its probably a good field for a 11 year old kid to enter.

Re:Ambiguous Writing! (4, Funny)

Mitchell314 (1576581) | more than 2 years ago | (#39559235)

ppfttt, database design is easy. All you need is a table holding two text fields: your data and a description of what it is.

Re:Ambiguous Writing! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39559287)

Make that three fields, just in case that you want to make an update to a row. You could call it ID or something:)

Re:Ambiguous Writing! (2)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 2 years ago | (#39559457)

If the ID is just going to be sequential, then why bother? Just count lines.

If you want to delete data, just put 3 Ds in front of the line.

If your data starts with a D, escape it with E.

If your data starts with an E, escape it with two EEs.


Re:Ambiguous Writing! (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 2 years ago | (#39559049)

I read it as: "Blue Gecko is an 11 year old remote database administrator".

Which looked like the plotline for a really awesome movie about a IT DBadmin gecko. A geecko!

zomg (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39559021)

An ad plays before the ad plays....

Re:zomg (4, Funny)

adavies42 (746183) | more than 2 years ago | (#39559177)

yo dawg....

Re:zomg (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39559481)

You made my day

Re:zomg (1)

adavies42 (746183) | more than 2 years ago | (#39578949)


(coincidentally, the fortune at the moment is "'From there to here, from here to there, funny things are everywhere.' -- Dr. Seuss"

when (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39559179)

did the front page become paid ad space?

between the ads attempting to be disguised as stories and all the news that is several days behind the evening news, /. just isn't much worth reading anymore

I watched it. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39559307)

I got burned, I saw a chick with a decent rack that stood out between the text overlays. I hit the play button to check it out but once the text overlay went away and the face was shown, I instintively looked away. I tried to concentrate on just her rack and ignore the rest but I couldn't. Oh well.

Re:I watched it. (1)

Barny (103770) | more than 2 years ago | (#39559523)


Wow (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39559401)

She must have some patient investors and gold-plated accountants to get all kinds of R&D tax incentives.

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39560067)

To the idiot who modded me -1: I used to work for a permanent startup. Where does the money come from?

Well (0)

Barny (103770) | more than 2 years ago | (#39559497)

The talking doesn't make this quite so easy to masturbate to, but I have a thing for red-heads, so...

Challenge, Accepted!

Just kidding though, but seriously, this is advertising of the worst kind. At least be open about it.

Transcript (4, Informative)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | more than 2 years ago | (#39559555)

Title: Blue Gecko is an 11 Year Old Remote Database Administration Startup
Description: Keeping the startup mentality is essential for success, says co-founder Sarah Novotny

[00:00] <TITLE>
"Making Money Doing Remote Database Administration" fades in superimposed over a view of Sarah Novotny sitting on a leater softa in a casual-looking room. The SlashdotTV logo bar in the bottom reads "Blue Gecko co-founder Sarah Novotny".

[00:02] Sarah>
We're here today at my company, Blue Gecko.
I founded this company 11, almost 12, years ago now with two business partners that I met at Amazon.
The whole idea that we took here, away from operational work from Amazon, was big company operations are important and broad, and all of the different processes that are involved in that can be applied to smaller to medium sized businesses, or businesses that have specific technology units that really aren't related to their core business.
So we wanted to be able to help them come to good, solid, robust technology practices that we knew from big web and Amazon years and years past.
My business partners here are Chuck Edwards and JJ Ecker, and we've been working with each other for almost 12 years now.

[00:53] Sarah>
Remote database administration which is our core business, means that we really can administer servers and services anywhere in the world, and at the moment we have customers in Asia-Pacific, so we've got some customers in Japan, we've got customers in New Zealand, we have customers in Europe, in Denmark, and in Switzerland, and then we have customers all over the U.S, and I think we may even have a couple of Canadian customers at this point.

[01:23] <TITLE>
SlashdotTV logo bar fades in and out, reading "How do you get new clients?"

[01:23] Sarah>
We actually have found that customers come to us for referrals - we don't do a lot of outreach.
Most of the customers that we have received and brought in on board, have been because they've had relationships with other people, and this is one of the great parts of community.
Both Open Source community in general, but generally the tech community is that we all have favorites, and we all have people and services that we trust and then those can then give sort of this second level of trust to share.
So you get sort of an associated trust that passes on: "Oh yeah, you should work with Blue Gecko - they're great!"

[02:03] Sarah>
Yeah, 10 years has been a really big mark to have passed that, especially with a business that is a really strange blend of Open Source support as well as proprietary support.
Part of our business is Oracle and Oracle E-Business Suite support, SQL Server support, and then part of our business is very open databases-focused, so PostgreS and MySQL, and Drizzle as well.
I would say we still have the start-up mentality.
We always had a really strange blend though of start-up and scrappy and getting it done, and very process-driven enterprise.
Because we have customers that are both; we have total start-up "Oh God I just got my VC and it's burning a hole in my pocket!", and then we have the very large companies, Fortune 100 companies, that have us working on a particular stack, and they are much more process-driven.
So we've always had kind of that blend.
But, because this is operational support, we work all the time.
Someone here is always awake, someone that works for Blue Gecko is always awake, someone is always looking at the queues and answering phones, answering pagers, making sure that our monitoring is watching things appropriately.
So as long as someone is covering something, you can pretty much work whenever you want - it's just a matter of saying "I will be available from this time to this time", and making sure that there's coverage for the different business areas, business units.

[03:23] Sarah>
The big pitch to people who might be a small start-up, or worried about being able to control the employee, the thing that I always say is "We don't go on vacation. We as a company don't go on vacation. You will always have support, you'll always have someone that's there, available to you. You can always let us go if you need to - our contracts presently are for the most part a month to month at this point."
So it's not that you lack control, it's that you lack someone sitting next to you.
Which is, in fact, a big deal for a lot of people and in a lot of cases.
The CEO that wants to be able to go tap on somebody's shoulder and interrupt them a hundred times a day - we're not the right fit.
Unless you're used as I am, in which case we fit fine. *laughs*

[04:06] Sarah>
Because I've been so active in the Open Source community for many years now, I do have lots and lots of connections and more often than not what I will use those for is "Hey, is this really a problem?".
Not so much that I would actually every go and ask them to fix something for me on-the-fly or call into 'm in the morning, but sort of have our staff do the stop-gap measure and then follow up with the company or the developer that is working on a particular project.
You mentioned Brian Aker, of course - he's a great example having been at MySQL and now at HP, and with Drizzle of course - let's not forget that.
He's a great example, he's not someone that I call at 2am, but I have on occasion said "Okay, dude, so really what's up with this? 'Cos this just doesn't do what .. oh, you know that? Okay, fine, I'll stop ranting now."
But for the most part I don't actually ping these people and these connections for "Oh God, I need a fix!"
But it has been helpful any number of times, and I can be fairly mercenary in how I choose meeting and distracting people for those reasons.

[05:15] Sarah>
For me, stylistically is the biggest difference between smaller Open Source projects and bigger companies being able to handle problems for you, because it's - and I find this, even within our company we see this sort of divide between the guys that have worked in big enterprise and the people who have only worked in start-ups.
In the case of Oracle.. Oracle does a really good job of handling service requests when you need them, and manages that, as far as...
We've had far more experience with that on the Oracle side of the house, the Oracle database side and the E-Business Suite side, than we have on the MySQL side, because most of our customers on MySQL are on the community edition.
My work in the IOUG as MySQL council has lead me to have lots of contacts in Oracle about MySQL, and they're working really hard to make a better product for us and to make a really responsive... the same level of responsiveness from their support staff around MySQL as they have had around the Oracle database project and their associated products.

[06:20] Sarah>
On top of our customers being globally distributed, we have our staff globally distributed.
Our Director of IT for us internally is, I think, currently in South America - he was in Eastern Europe for a while.
We had a network engineer that was working out of Eastern Europe.
Both of them happened to be Americans, but they really wanted to be somewhere else.
You can choose your work hours as long as there's coverage.
So if you wanted to go work day time in Denmark - we have another office in Denmark that we're partnered with,
So we send people over to work out of Denmark sometimes, and sometimes people say "No, no.. I need to go spend 6 months in South America" or "I need to ...", sometimes I can't keep track of where anyone is these days.
We all meet on IM, we all meet in chat rooms - that's how we do the business; it's mostly through e-mail, through instant messenger and, when absolutely necessary, I'll pick up a phone.
Customers like the phone.
But most of the time, internally, it's IM or e-mail.

[07:33] Sarah>
Our headquarters is actually in Seattle, and we have about 20 staff total that work for us.
This distribution, this broad distribution, of staff across different continents and different countries, different timezones.. we have people across the U.S. as well.
But the fact that we can be so geographically distributed very much plays directly out of, sort of, the 'eating your own dog food' over remote database administration.
If we say to a customer "We only need to have a network connection to your database", then why would I ever force a staff member to come into the office?
'Cos we don't need that anymore - the network and the connectivity to the servers is there and so we don't need to be physically proximate.
So I don't come into the office every day.
For a long time I worked out of the office only 2 days/week - worked out of home, or conferences or wherever I was at the time for the rest of the time.

[08:28] Sarah>
The headquarters in Seattle is in part because we all came out of Amazon, so we all were living - the three of us that founded it - were living here originally.
Seattle actually has a vital start-up scene at this point - and vibrant.
We are working... we, those in the community of the start-ups - because I actually do a fair bit of work in the start-up community here as well - we're trying to make it more clear that Seattle has its own start-up culture.
It's not just the other end of a Virgin America commuter flight from San Francisco, which I think a lot of VCs both here and in the Bay think.
So they seem to see us as just this, you know, "Oh, it's the extra-long commute."
And it is, you can do that *laughs* I've done it on occasion, but that's not what it is.
We have our own culture here, and we have an event - we have many events every week - we have an event calendar that GeekWire manages.
I actually produce an event here called Seattle Beta, which happens once a quarter, and brings together 10 or 15 start-ups locally that want to demo their new product, their new exciting 'thing'.
We had about 300 people register, 350 people register, for the one that happened this past week - actually, it was only on Tuesday(!)
We had a great time, we have great sponsors, we have great demo'ers, and.. who can go wrong with a bar full of geeks?

[09:53] <TITLE>
"Making Money Doing Remote Database Administration" fades in superimposed over the view along with the SlashdotTV logo bar reading "Blue Gecko co-founder Sarah Novotny".

too ugly to prostitute (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39559597)

so lets do a db crap startup.

Captcha: deeply

seriously adobe flash ? 11 years is pathetic... (4, Insightful)

johnjones (14274) | more than 2 years ago | (#39559599)

how about oh I don't know starting of with HTML5 and then failing back to flash...

the article was interesting to find out how they even think they are a startup...

but nope adobe flash required...

get someone with a clue about video or offload it to vimeo/youtube/brightcove


Re:seriously adobe flash ? 11 years is pathetic... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39560551)

After allowing all javascript I got a flash box that stayed black. no video.

Professionalism? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39560705)

Her choice of clothing says all I need to know about why they're still a "startup" after 11 years.

News... huh? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39561111)

WOW that was boring!

Very sad day (5, Insightful)

nakedman (37561) | more than 2 years ago | (#39561129)

I've been reading Slashdot on a daily basis since 1999, and so this is a very sad day for me as it's become clear that Slashot is no longer worth being a part of my regular browsing cycle.

These types of "stories" are so blatant that it's an insult to the "nerds" that have made Slashdot what it is today. Maybe they will be successful in generating a little extra revenue in the short-term, but it's being done at a cost that will eventually ruin the site.

Re:Very sad day (2)

rgbrenner (317308) | more than 2 years ago | (#39563285)

I have to agree. This is just too blatant. I meant the "story" doesn't even have an angle. If they were to put just the tiniest bit of thought into it, they could have made it interesting. I'm sure a database admin company could tell us how to deal with scaling up.. or design tips.. or if mysql is better than pgsql.

Instead it's literally: "hey! here's some company and what they sell."

Thanks for this! I have not given /. TV any real (1)

PotatoHead (12771) | more than 2 years ago | (#39563779)


Post up more of these, and I'll gladly change that.

i didn't watch the video (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39564887)

i don't watch content that forces me to watch an advertisement first.

Tits or GTFO? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39565843)

Where's the part where she unzips her jacket and takes off her shirt?

Who set up the camera? (1)

Call Me Black Cloud (616282) | more than 2 years ago | (#39565867)

I'm sure that's a comfy couch but it doesn't need to fill the frame. How about zooming in on the speaker?

Unwatchable (1)

aggressivepedestrian (149887) | more than 2 years ago | (#39568973)

Keller? Sounders? This is unwatchable. #rctid
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