I quit my job as general manager of a software development firm in 2010. At the time I had exactly $0 in my savings, and I had a budding family to support. Time after time, I remember hearing people tell me that I was crazy, stupid, irresponsible, and plenty of other adjectives. Who knows, I probably was all of those things.
MCF and MCW were taking off, doubling in traffic every week. Minecraft was starting to look like it was about to blow up with the ferocity and energy of a 25 megaton nuclear device, but NOBODY could be sure. There was never a guarantee.
Since those days, I’ve had people ask, “How did you do it? What made you so confident that you would succeed? How can I do the same thing?”.
There was never a single day where I said, “Yep, NOW I can do this.” The doubt was terrifying, the uncertainty draining. Yet, at some point I decided to take what most people call the “Leap of faith”.
This first of many leaps was by far the scariest one. What if I failed? What if I ended up homeless? What if I couldn’t support my family?
These are all questions I remember putting on repeat in my head for weeks. These questions would taunt me. Sometimes I would be mentally crippled and unable to work, simply because I was so worried about them.
Then the answer finally came to me.
Then you would fail.
Failure is not bad. Failure should be celebrated. Failures are an enlightening part of life. Almost every major event where I’ve failed in my life is also an event where I can quantify the lessons I’ve learned. You will grow more from your failures than from your successes.
Learn to embrace failure. Learn to pick up the pieces, and identify which of them was the cause for failure. Failures are as much a part of who you are as your successes. Without failure, success would be common place.
So how did I do it? How can you do the same thing? I failed, and I failed often. You should too. Try EVERY idea, build every app, make every mistake. Take the leap of faith.
It looks like there is no lack of controversy in the world of Gaming. PlugPayPlay, a gaming service provider that has been promoting heavily within the CubeWorld community recently is in some hot water.
I find it interesting that a company could think in this day and age, that they can get away with trying to hide their shady tactics. Especially a company that resolves around such a vocal social group like those in the video game community.
Here’s some advice to anyone who’s dealing with an irate/upset customer.
BE FUCKING HONEST
How hard is it to just say, “Oh shit, we’re sorry your server isn’t running right. We’re doing our best, but the alpha nature of the CubeWorld server software is proving to be tricky. If you’d like, we can refund you and we’ll let you know when the servers are a bit more stable.”
Why, does it seem that every few months, we see a company think that taking the (negative) offensive against upset customers is the better approach?
People don’t sign up for your services because they WANT to have a shitty time. They are putting their hard earned dollars in your hands, in exchange for the service you say your going to provide. If you don’t, then you’re automatically wrong.
Start finding a way to make that person happy. Telling them that they’re wrong isn’t going to do that. You might get a few people to break under your “mean guy” attitude, but eventually you’ll get that person who’s willing to fight you based solely on the principal.
Once it goes public, there’s nothing you can do to prevent the fallout. Making sure that you’ve been polite and professional the entire time (and not claiming that the other party is a liar), will help keep the conversation about the facts.
I wanted to post some information regarding the $15k estimate that I gave in my previous post. I said we had put that into CWF, just into hosting costs. I really struggled with releasing these. I feel that if you don’t believe my previous post, posting this proof probably isn’t going to do it either. However, an old friend convinced me otherwise, so here I am.
Remember, we had no idea when/if Cube World would release. Because we were unable to know when Cube World was going to launch, we decided to start building the cluster that I had designed running Minecraft Forums. There was several months that our hosting costs were significant because of this. If I could travel back in time and tell myself that we wouldn’t need that cluster for another year, then I would!
The next notable point is that the Amazon EC2 bills overlap the SingleHop bills for several months. This was due to us migrating to a cheaper host while we waited out Wollay. We were ready within 2 weeks, but it took the CWF team several months to get in contact with us to migrate the DNS. All of those costs were still absorbed by us, on good faith that our contract would be signed.
It’s also important to note that we never intended to ask CWF to pay that back, it was money that we fully expected to spend in the course of developing our business.
Here’s the actual proof. I apologize for the format, but some of these accounts have been long since deleted, so we only have the invoice emails from Amazon. We managed to find the actual invoices from Softlayer, and I have screenshots of our invoices page on SingleHop.
Softlayer is where we initially hosted. When we first started, we went with the name LevelUp. We later had to change this, because of another company named LevelUp.
- Softlayer Invoices
This is a ZIP file containing XLS spreadsheets of our invoices directly from Softlayer. I’ve pulled my address from them because I already have enough kinky sex toys.
Sorry about this format, like I said, these were a long time ago, and I never expected to have to do this. Each email shows a date for the month in advance of what’s shown here. THat’s the date we got the bill, for the previous month.
I just took screenshots of our LEAP3 panel’s invoices as CubeWorld was the only server ran on this account:
Regarding the contract negotiations. Here’s as recent as July 3rd where Matt was talking with me about the contract, and suggesting that he would be talking with the other admins about it:
Skype Screenshot 1 of 2
Skype Screenshot 2 of 2
It’s with great sadness that I am no longer involved with CubeworldForum.org. I started hosting CWF just about a year ago. Barely anyone had heard of CubeWorld back then, and they were a small community.
I had just come off a rather upsetting ordeal with Curse. We had our differences on the Minecraft Forums, so we split ways. I decided that what the industry really needed was a company that looked for small time communities and helped them grow by providing services for free that they’d normally have to worry about paying for. I gathered a few people that I trusted and we started Seed Community Development.
Seed was built on this simple idea. We provide the infrastructure (webservers, email, etc, etc) for hosting your site, give you guidance on issue’s that we’ve seen before. I wanted to be all the good things about Curse (and there’s tons!), without the corporate mindset, with the bottom line being the ultimate ruler.
It took us several months on how to exactly implement this. What we came up with is as follows:
- You never pay a cent, until you make a cent.
- The site content and data will belong to you. We’ll host it, but it’ll be yours.
- We’ll provide development services, within reason, for free to assist in creating one-of-a-kind features that make the site stand out.
When/if you do decide to monetize, we have a pretty awesome payout plan as well.
- We will bill for $0.25/GB of Bandwidth into and out of the site. This is the all inclusive cost. This includes everything that we do, not just the hosting!
- When they get paid from the monetization sources, they pay us back for 100% of their bill, UP TO 12.5% of the total income. This means, at most they’d pay us 12.5% of their income. There’d never be a situation where we’d take it all! This was extremely important to me, because it meant people would never have to worry about paying the bills.
- We also ask that after they’ve paid all their bills, that w/e is left (the profit), we’d get 5% of. This is what we’d then take and use to pay for the servers for other sites that were still “seedlings”.
This was our great plan. We worked the numbers and it was tight, but manageable. We had tons of faith in Matt and the team and we believed in the game! So we went and found investors to cover the obvious cost of hosting them, until the game launched.
Now, 6 months after we’ve started hosting CWF, I hand him our finalized contract and ask him to review it. He does and he has some obvious questions. We start the process of hammering out the details. This is probably where I went wrong the most. I should have ensured it was signed long ago. However, I trusted Matt. When he told me that he had no problems with the contract and was going to sign it (less than a week ago!), I believed him.
So, fast forward to July 2013. CubeWorld had been ramping up the weeks before and a botched public alpha launch at the beginning of the month, caused MASSIVE amounts of traffic to come through. We’re talking going from < 1k uniques per day, to 100k per day.
Bandwidth on the site jumped from ~1Mbps, to 40Mbps constant on July 11th.
During that time, there was only 20 minutes of downtime. What was it caused by? One of the administrators, Gary, had his password hacked through his GMail account. By doing that, the culprit was able to get into the admin panel and modify a single file on the server. Luckily, this guy was pretty nice and didn’t harm anything else.
So the amount of traffic is significant, they were starting to make money and we’d taken good care of them for over a year. Matt told me, several times, that we’d been great and that they were just clarifying things between themselves.
So I asked Matt, “What’s taking so long? Is there something that I can do to clarify something?”. He’d answer, “Nope! I understand!”. Still, I was getting concerned. Matt had had the contract in his possession for nearly 6 months and it still wasn’t signed. I was trying to be as accommodating as possible, after all our entire mission was to make it EASY for these guys, not pressure them with a contract.
After being questioned by my investors as to why we still didn’t have a signed contract for CWF, I decided I needed to be more blunt. I came to Matt and told him that I needed a definitive answer on the contract by Friday (this was a Sunday), or I would have to pull the site off-line. So 6 days to do what Matt had been telling us since the beginning he was going to do.
I let Matt have as much time to think about it as he needed, I tried not to pester him during the time so he could figure things out. He had mentioned that he was concerned because he felt the 8 or so people he had befriended through the forums all deserved some money, however, he wanted to take 50% and he didn’t know how he was supposed to go about it. He was also concerned that his news guy who had been having some personal trouble and he wanted to make sure that he was taken care of.
I took this as him just being confused and frustrated with the sudden amount of responsibility and I tried to offer advice. It’s really hard when you start doing something for fun and it becomes a business overnight. Looking back, I’m not sure how much of that was a ruse just to drag us on a bit longer.
So that brings me to last night. Matt finally got a hold of me and apologized for the hassle with the contract and promised me that he’d have a decision for me in the morning. I apologized for the harshness I had had regarding the Friday deadline and clarified that I really just needed to know that he was working on it. So I could tell my investors that, “Yes, he’s getting it done, there’s just a ton on his plate right now.” We also talked at length about a lot of personal issues he was having regarding the forums, things that were bothering him, things that were bothering others. I tried to offer as sound as advice as I could and try to give him advice from someone who’s been in his shoes before.
Little did I know, that Matt had already made his deal with Zam, to completely remove the sites from our servers and thus cut Seed out completely, early the next morning.
I don’t really know what went wrong, what we did wrong, or if there even was anything we could have done about it. It sure does feel like this was planned for quite some time, in one way or another. Looking back I remember the admin team acting like I was intruding by making their website worry free, regarding hosting.
I woke up this morning to a message from Matt at 4AM, a mere 4 hours after I had finished talking with him, telling me that he had made his decision and that “somehow” between midnight and 4AM he was able to be contacted by Zam, agree to a contract with them and login to our servers, remove the site and put it on their servers. Also, somehow, this wasn’t what he wanted, yet it happened anyways.
It’s painfully clear what happened here. We had been used and abused. We had tried to help a community grow, without concern for technical issues and they turned around and slapped us right across the face. I won’t lie, I feel embarrassed. I know I should have had them sign the contract months ago, however, I kept coming back to the entire reason we’re doing this. We don’t want it to be about the money. Yes, we need SOME money to keep our business going, but we’re able to do that without risking the community’s health. Curse and Zam, the ones who make the decisions are the upper management, who really only care about the 0’s they see after the $.
I’m not sure what’s next for Seed. This has dealt a significant blow, as we had been planning for a year, that Matt would be a man of his word. We’d taken a hit at first, hosting the site, but that was supposed to be okay, because the site was going to be popular, we all knew it. We all believed it and it was. We’re still trying to calculate everything up, but we’ve put close to $15,000.00 into CubeWorldForum.org, that’s just in hosting costs. I have a family to feed and I’m pretty sure my investors won’t be investing any more.
I’ve learned to make sure the legal details are figured out before anything. While I think I was trying to be nice, obviously Matt and his friends decided to take advantage of that.
There was probably dozens of signs I missed. I think the biggest one that I look back on now was just a few short weeks ago. Matt was asking me if I could do something about cubeworldwiki.net. It’s a site run by another fan that I also know personally. When I asked what was wrong with it, he said he said, “I want to kill all the competition”.
It seems to me now, that he meant me.
Here’s to the future, what ever that may hold,
Miles ‘wedtm’ Smith.
I’ve posted an update to this post, detailing our expenditures, here Clarification Post
I’ve had my blog hosted on Tumblr for a couple years now, and for the most part I’ve enjoyed the service. However, there always seemed to be just too much involved in getting the thoughts from my head to the web. Well, I’ve finally done something about it.
The blog you’re reading now is a completely 100% static site hosted on Amazon S3 with CloudFront. It’s generated using a tool called Octopress.
There isn’t a single thing in this universe that grinds my gears more than
seeing a company “market” how bad their competitor is.
Now I’m sure the guys at streak.com are great, they might even have a decent
product. But you wouldn’t know by this post
[Link is now dead]) which happens to be titled “Help take down Salesforce -
join the team at Streak.com (YC S11)”. All that says is, “We dislike our
opponents, you should too.”
When you decide that your best marketing strategy is to focus on your
competitors faults, instead of on your strengths, you’re doing it wrong.
I promised that I would explain what happened with Curse, and why I no longer
contract for them on the Minecraft Forums and Minecraft Wiki.
I enjoyed my time working there, and I learned a ton. I do regret selling the
sites to Curse, mostly because I believe that the community would be a much
better place without them.
There were a bunch of great things that Curse did, however, they were
overshadowed by most of the things that were not motivated by making the
community better, but in lining the pockets of Curse just a little bit more.
This should go without saying, but I feel I need to anyways.
These are, my own personal feelings, and others may have had an amazing
experience. That being said, take the following with a grain of salt.
On the first of February, I received an email from Lesley Abernathy at Curse,
who at the time, was my direct supervisor. The email simply stated that they
thanked me for my time, but I was no longer needed.
Lesley is an amazing person, and if you ever have the chance to work with her,
I’m sure you’ll agree.
I wasn’t surprised. Over several weeks prior to this email, I had been told
repeatedly by Donovan Duncan from Curse, that I was not performing my job as I
had been requested.
Donovan Duncan is the main person at Curse when it comes to communities. He
was my direct report for several months before he was promoted and Lesley took
over that job.
Donovan was the person who first approached us about selling MC Forums, and
was our main contact through the entire selling process.
When we founded MC Fourms we always said we wanted to make sure that the
community was happy with what we were doing. My thought being, if the users
are happy, then they’ll naturally frequent the site more, thus bringing in
more advertising revenue.
Basically, do our jobs right, and everything else will work itself out!
When we sold the sites to Curse, that all went out the window. It was strictly
profits in the eyes of Curse. Don’t believe me? Here’s some raw numbers for
In August of 2010, we were making nearly $12,000/month from having a single
AdSense banner ad at the bottom of each page. It was extremely non-intrusive,
and most users didn’t even notice! It was enough to pay our server bills, and
then split the remaining 3 ways and provide a decent income.
Our main reason for selling to Curse was the fact that the sites had started
taking more than just weekends away, and we needed to either quit our day
jobs, or find someone to manage the servers. That’s exactly what Curse
It’s now painfully obvious that they did everything BUT take care of the
servers. I’m sure anyone who’s ever visited the Minecraft Forums is very
familiar with a 503 error.
They did, however, proceed to spam the entire site with advertisements, and
general money whoring techniques.
Our contracts basically gave Curse complete control of the sites, while
retaining us as contractors who maintained the sites for the period of a year
(it was supposed to be 2, however due to “UK law” they were forced to limit it
to 1. I still have my doubts about that “law”).
The trouble came when we started doing the news. As the news became more
popular, I created a segment called “Digital Diamonds”. DD’s were my creation,
and I had planned on having them be a way to spotlight the awesome things that
the community did. Donovan, however, had more perverse ideas.
I was instructed around December 2011 that any videos posted to the MC Forums
news portion, would be required to be on the CurseNetwork youtube account.
In other words, any videos that I wanted to post, I would have to take the
Contact the content creator, and ask for the raw video footage.
Post this footage to the CurseNetwork youtube account.
Post the video on the MCF News site.
This is wrong. Plain and simple. This is stealing. Not to mention that I was
instructed to only feature videos that were already popular.
So not only was I being told to cheat people out of subscriptions and ad
revenue, Donovan actually thought that the people who get millions of views
would be stupid enough to give me the raw footage from their money making
Why? So CURSE could reap the rewards from others hard work.
I refused to do this, and, this is the reason why I was fired. I don’t want to
blame the entirety of Curse; most of the employee’s there are amazing people
that I was overjoyed to work with. Even the owner, Hubert, is an awesome guy.
I’d like to say that while Curse happens to own several game communities, they
people who manage those communities are usually the people who started them.
These are the same people who have been there from the beginning, and love the
game just as much as you do.
If you own a gaming community, and are having a difficult time figuring out
how to manage growth, or need some technical help, I urge you to look for some
temporary help, or some consultation. Don’t sell your community to a large
company like Curse simply because they flash dollar signs at you. The money
may seem great, but you’ll usually make more by keeping the site, than you
would if you sold it.
You can always find someone who you can pay as a contractor to manage your
servers, and monetizing a popular site is not rocket science!
I hope this has cleared up any questions there may be regarding my departure
If you have any questions, feel free to email me at miles at vimae dot com.
Twitters Real-Time URL Fetcher Using Cassandra and
Twitter’s real-time URL fetcher, code named SpiderDuck, is an excellent
example of how NoSQL databases fit in the architecture of today’s systems:
Metadata Store: This is a Cassandra-based distributed hash table that
stores page metadata and resolution information keyed by URL, as well as fetch
status for every URL recently encountered by the system. This store serves
clients across Twitter that need real-time access to URL metadata.
SpiderDuck is also using memcached:
Memcached: This is a distributed cache used by the fetchers to
temporarily store robots.txt files.
Original title and link: Twitter’s Real-Time URL Fetcher Using Cassandra
and Memcached (NoSQL
First and foremost, I know both parties involved, and think they are wonderful
people. That being said, we all make mistakes, and it shouldn’t ever mean we
should stop supporting or boycott a brand/person because of it. We’re all
The issue here lies in the fact that NOBODY has ever done what’s being done
here. Very few games ever try the release cycle and transparency that Markus &
Co. have. Even fewer (if any?) succeed.
Yogscast are spoiled diva’s. Duh. They should be, they are amazing! Have you
ever seen their shit? It’s awesome! That’s what the fans make them, YOU love
the fact that Simon and Lewis are ass hats. I do too.
So you mix a very tired Mojang crew, with the weight of high expectations for
an event that is really just an over-glorified game launch that had to be
stretched out over 2 days, and never doing ANYTHING like this ever, and some
spoiled divas (even if they are justified) and obviously ego’s are going to be
I think this points to an even bigger problem. A while back, Yogscast made a
comment about us allowing adf.ly links for mods. We never issued a response
because, after all, they have every right to be pissed about that. Regardless
of the fact that I personally thought it was silly, we never made an official
The people to blame are the people who take it too far. The people who take a
single off hand comment, and twist it and turn it around so many times, that
the original meaning is lost and all that’s left is a twisted web of lies.
I urge you, the fans, to take to heart what you really love about these
people, and realize that they are just normal guys. They drink, they like to
play video games, they laugh and cry, they get pissed and say things they
don’t mean. After all they’ve done for us, do they really deserve us taking an
off-the-cuff comment and make it a huge deal? I mean FFS, Minecraft was just
released! I’ve been personally working and waiting for this moment for two
years. That is what we should be focusing on.
As for me, I love everyone. In fact, this was my view from the Nether part at
So I was checking through some analytics and found this youtube video popping
up. I decided to see what it was, and much to my surprise, someone has made a
video on how to post a server on MCServerlist.net. I guess I should rework
some things if it requires a tutorial!