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John Allspaw Joins the Etsy Team

Nov 19, 2009

by Chad Dickerson

One day in early 2005, I got a call from a friend and former colleague asking for career advice. My friend was considering a role running site operations at a fledgling Internet company that was creating a whole new way of connecting people on the Internet. They were a small but inspired operation running in a data center in Vancouver and the site was starting to really ramp up. The company needed his unique blend of good humor, playfulness, creative spark, world-class technical chops, and unmatched ability to get things done. I was already an early adopter and major fan of the company he was considering and told him it seemed like a solid bet. The company was Flickr, and the friend was John Allspaw.

Fast forward to the present, and after five very successful years at Flickr, John and I talked recently about another career move, but this time it was a little closer to home: John will be joining the engineering team at Etsy as VP of Technical Operations, responsible for the site operations, database, and quality assurance teams. I think his reasoning for making the move from Flickr to Etsy illustrates just what a great fit John is for Etsy:

“The reason I stayed here for five years wasn’t for the vesting or the accolades. It was because I worked with people who *care* about building something that people *care* about. This also happens to be the same reason why I chose my next step: Etsy. They care, and it shows.“

I couldn’t be more excited for someone with John’s incredible experience to be joining Etsy. Before Flickr, John and I worked together at and IDG/InfoWorld. He then went on to Friendster, one of the earliest social networking sites. Once he got to Flickr, John built site operations from 20 servers in a small Vancouver data center into a cultural phenomenon spread across six data centers around the world, with 40,000 photos being served per second and four billion photos being managed. Over four years, traffic to the site grew 40x while the number of users grew tenfold. All the while, John and the excellent team he built were the ones turning the knobs and pulling the levers to make it all work along with the developers at Flickr.  

John recorded his hard-earned knowledge in a well-regarded book about capacity planning for web sites (The Art of Capacity Planning) and became a favorite speaker at technical conferences – when you’re successful, everyone wants to know the formula. With all of that happening, he also found time to play guitar in an itinerant bluegrass band, filing in the gaps between the washboard and the banjo. And have two kids!

John will joining us officially in late January, bringing his know-how to help us make Etsy better. I can’t wait to work with John again. Without further ado, please join me in welcoming John to Etsy!


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