A funny thing happened on the way to the domain server

Marketo forgot to pay their domain bill to Network Solutions. Thus their entire service went down today.

Keep in mind, this is a billion dollar company which is part of a 10+ billion dollar private equity firm. There are over 1,200 people who work there. How could this happen?

Well, the reality is that it’s quite easy. Here is the formula:

  1. Lose alot of employees including managers over a short period of time

It’s a simple formula, I know. However, this is how things go awry. When architects leave the engineering team, the architecture falls apart. When designers leave the UX team, the consistency of the app falls apart. When managers leave, institutional knowledge evaporates. This isn’t specific to Marketo. Lots of companies, big and small, have had this problem. It threatens the very existence of the company.

So why don’t companies put systems in place to avoid this? Again, the answer is simple: Because it’s hard and costs money. It’s much easier to assume things will be OK. It’s much easier to assume things will remain the same.

An object in motion tends to stay in motion and an object at rest tends to stay at rest.  In other words, a domain name that is registered tends to stay registered.

We all act surprised when shit hits the fan because we are hard wired to assume that the status quo is permanent. This is why I love startups. Before you have customers or code that can go down, you are just building something new. Before even engineering kicks in, you have just designs on a piece of paper.

Side note: Accidentally losing your domain used to be worse. Someone would swoop in and buy it. Now Network Solutions holds it for some time to let you renew. It avoids lawsuits and is a much better system.