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PyCon 2011 - Announcing "Startup Stories"

Monday, February 07, 2011

Each year, PyCon has a focus that arises fairly naturally from the activities of the Python community. Whether it is Python moving from niche to mainstream (as in PyCon 2008), new implementations of Python (as in PyCon 2009), or shipping quality software (PyCon 2010), PyCon has reflected the tech space in general and Python's place within it.

By now, you all know about our focus on the startup ecosystem for PyCon 2011. Startups - especially successful ones - can provide us with unique perspectives, insights and most of all inspiration to go out and perform the impossible.

In evaluating the available speakers - everyone from VCs, Angels - and many more, we were taken by a suggestion provided by Y Combinator's Paul Graham and Union Square Venture's Fred Wilson: Why not shine a light on some startups that had "made it" or are going to shortly -- all on top of Python?

Thus, we want to announce a set of plenary talks for PyCon 2011: Startup stories. These are the stories of companies that have built and shipped (or, in the case of Threadless - about to ship) Python systems at scale. Or, in the case of Open Stack - it is the story of the next generation "Open Cloud" platform for Python at scale.

When we approached these companies (to their surprise!) we asked them to stand back from their own products and instead speak directly to the good, the bad, and the ugly of making Python scale all the way to success. We're excited about having some people who have made it in the trenches show us how Python made them successful - warts and all.

You can see all of the talks and details on the keynotes page

How Dropbox Did It and How Python Helped

  • Rian Hunter, Engineer - Dropbox

Dropbox is a startup company located in San Francisco that has probably one of the most popular file synchronization and sharing tools in the world, shipping Python on the desktop and supporting millions of users and growing every day. Dropbox uses Python on the client-side and server side as well. This talk will give an overview of the first two years of Dropbox, the team formation, our early guiding principles and philosophies, what worked for us and what we learned while building the company and engineering infrastructure. It will also cover why Python was essential to the success of the project and the rough edges we had to overcome to make it our long term programming environment and runtime. Finally it will give some insight into the future of Dropbox and where the project is going.

Disqus: Serving 400 million people with Python

  • David Cramer, Engineer - Disqus
  • Jason Yan, CTO and Co-Founder of Disqus

Disqus, one of the largest Python applications on the web, will explain how they deal with scaling complexities in a growing startup. Founded in 2007, Disqus maintains a small engineering team reaching over 400 million users a month. Being powered by Python has allowed quick iteration of the application, without sacrificing code quality and performance. The talk will cover key parts of the architecture and development process at Disqus, including hardware, databases, and common bottlenecks.

Going Full Python - Threadless

  • Chris McAvoy, VP of Technology - Threadless

Threadless is a 10 year old community based design company with an overpowering love of witty t-shirts and a mission to 'inspire awesomeness.' After 10 years of working primarily with PHP, Threadless decided to switch its development stack to use Python as the base development language. As described by Chris McAvoy, VP of Technology at Threadless (and the founder of the Chicago Python Users Group), the decision was in large part driven by the ethos of the Python community. Chris will share a bit about the company's history, the role of technology in supporting the community at the core of the business, and why Python and Threadless are going to be totally BFF's.

An Open success for the cloud: OpenStack

  • Andy Smith, Core Developer - Openstack

Cloud computing brings radical flexibility to companies and is an enabler for all kinds of different types of startups. That is why it was a big deal when Rackspace, NASA, and a consortium of other companies announced OpenStack - an all-open-source, all-Python infrastructure for building public and private clouds. OpenStack is currently developing two interrelated projects: OpenStack Compute and OpenStack Object Storage. OpenStack Compute is software to provision and manage large groups of virtual private servers, and OpenStack Object Storage is software for creating redundant, scalable object storage using clusters of commodity servers to store terabytes or even petabytes of data.

This talk will go into details about the success of OpenStack with Python, limitations and how overall, Python was the right technology choice.

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