Overnight Success Rapportive Grows 1000x in Days

"If we had been on a cheap virtual private server, our app—and most likely any chance of funding—would have crumbled to pieces."

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  • 85 Dynos
  • Zilla Database
  • RabbitMQ, NewRelic, SendGrid

Requirements

  • Rapid, Instant Scaling
  • Extensive Add-on Selection
  • Agile Environment


When Rapportive accidentally launched, it needed immediate, massive scalability. With Heroku, Rapportive handled a thousand-fold increase in traffic in one day and an additional sixty-fold increase since then. Rapportive now processes 65 million sidebar lookups and billions of background messages per month, all running on Heroku.

Everything About Your Contacts—Right Inside Your Inbox

Rapportive shows you everything about your contacts from within your Gmail inbox. When Rapportive founder Rahul Vohra started coding it at the start of 2010, he chose Ruby on Rails for its proven effectiveness. “Our only goal was to meet the application deadline for Y Combinator,” he says. “Our business model called for a big scale-out, but we didn’t design for it at first.”

“Ready or not, we had just accidentally launched.”

Rapportive chose Heroku’s cloud platform, deploying its first code with a simple git push heroku master and spending the next six weeks polishing the app before applying to Y Combinator. Rapportive was in no way prepared for what happened next. “Somehow the press had found us,” says Vohra. “Ready or not, we had just accidentally launched.”

Within 24 hours, the number of users had increased from 10 to 10,000. “I grabbed my iPhone and dialed us up from one Heroku dyno to 20,” recalls Vohra. “If we had been on a cheap virtual private server, our app—and most likely any chance of funding—would have crumbled to pieces.”

A few days later, Y Combinator agreed to fund the company. “We served 1 million sidebar lookups in that first month; in September 2011, we served more than 60 million,” says Vohra. “We’re now at 50 Heroku dynos and 15 workers, and everything is still humming along perfectly.”

Agile Web Development at its Best

Heroku enabled Rapportive to focus on its product and support even through the most unanticipated traffic spikes, without having to worry about servers or system administration.

  • Agile and productive. “Heroku doesn’t slow us down,” says Vohra. “We deploy new code as frequently as every few hours. It only takes 15 seconds and it always ‘just works.’”
  • Scalable. “We serve 65 million sidebar lookups and process five billion messages a month,” says Vohra. “With Heroku, we can keep scaling by simply adding more dynos and workers.”
  • Extensible. “Heroku add-ons made it easy to enhance and extend our app,” says Vohra. “We use RabbitMQ for data gathering; New Relic for monitoring performance, and the Papertrail service via Heroku’s Logplex for visibility into consolidated application logs.”
  • Open. “With Heroku, there’s nothing proprietary,” says Vohra. “Ours is just a regular Ruby app, which means we can use best practices and best-of-breed tools for Ruby development.”

Concludes Vohra, “Looking back, we wouldn’t change a thing. Heroku was the right choice at the start and its value has only increased as we’ve grown. It’s the perfect platform for the entire app lifecycle.”

After their rapid ascent to success, Rapportive was acquired by LinkedIn in February of 2012. Read how it happened on the Rapportive blog.