Archive for the 'Business' Category

A new job! – but no Symfony

Note: We are actively seeking to hire exceptional PHP programmers. More on the job offering at the bottom of this posts.

Zero BubbleAfter one of my posts got featured on Ajaxian many interesting offers hit my mailbox. One of them was actually from a startup right here in Rotterdam called ZeroBubble. I was happily surprised to find an IT startup in Rotterdam. Especially since after talking to them it became clear that they operate at the highest level of technical possibilities and have an absolutely amazing team. Two months ago I happily joined their ranks.


The project we are working on is called YouTellMe. I don’t want to share too much about it right now, but surely I will have plenty of exciting blog posts coming up in the next months.
Currently we are working with some of the nicest tech on the net. To give some examples: our admin interface is written entirely in ExtJs, the site’s search is powered by Lucene, we use prototype 1.6 for great object extending, for ajax functionality we use yahoo history manager to keep it bookmarkable, the entire site has been optimized according to the Yslow principles and we are doing some interesting things with openSocial. Given all these you can’t help but wonder why we aren’t using Symfony.

Why no Symfony?

Personally I am a huge fan of the Symfony framework. The team at Sensio has done an absolutely amazing job. My opinion on the framework is best described by these blog posts Part1, Part2. However the current project we are working on has some special requirements. First of all the application’s calculations are very harsh on the servers. Combine this with a large amount of AJAX and you have some serious performance issues. The calculation speed has been pretty optimized by a colleague of mine, who wrote a python daemon for the task. Still it is essential to keep the PHP framework’s overhead to a minimum. Prior to my employment at this company it was decided that Symfony would be too slow to handle the task. This is a topic which often nags Symfony.

I am curious how fast Symfony can be. For the YouTellMe site I need a bootstrapped and blazingly fast framework. In the coming weeks I’ll be setting up some tests too see how Symfony compares to our home build framework. As a starters I’ll definitely relieve Symfony from the ORM and fancy routing. From there on I will need to test to see which components are slow and can be removed. The clean and flexible programming in Symfony should make this easy to do.

Our current framework is very lightweight. It even does not do auto loading. I for one have no clue what the speed gain is from not using auto loading and it would also be interesting to test it. The MVC structure is entirely home build, but the rest of the features use Zend.

If there are readers of this blog, which have gone through the process of stripping Symfony, be sure to leave some tips in the comments!

Jobs at ZeroBubble

ZeroBubble is currently recruiting talented PHP programmers in the Rotterdam area. We are located in the Beurs World Trade center. If you are into the latest technology and like to work with great people, software and hardware be sure to email me at thierry [at] zerobubble [dot] nl or my boss at joost [at] zerobubble [dot] nl. As mentioned we work with fun software such as Ext Js, Lucene, Zend, object oriented js with Prototype 1.6, yahoo history, Yslow principles and openSocial.
We are looking for both full and partime PHP programmers. Python, ExtJs, prototype, server admin, subversion and memcached knowledge are all nice extras. As a main quality though, you have to be excited about building a unique and amazing web application.

Business &Javascript &PHP &Symfony &Web Development tschellenbach 20 Jan 2008 201 Comments – Developed with Symfony has been developed with Symfony and is currently in Alpha testing. Needless to say it is a great pleasure to use Symfony and new features are being added effortlessly. aims to raise the standard in online commenting and make it more social. Commenting has become an important aspect of the internet, however a central system has not been available so far. CommentHub offers a plug and play comment system for your website. Whether it is your blog or any other page, you can add an advanced comment system in a minute. Currently it supports the following features:

  • Fast Ajax commenting
  • Threaded comments
  • Voting on comments
  • Gravatar images
  • Edit capabilities
  • Spam prevention and protection
  • Distinct look for admin comments
  • New comment notification emails for admins
  • Comment RSS Feed
  • Login (to remember email, name and site across websites)

Stronger email integration, personal RSS feeds and social features are all under development. Furthermore the system is already supporting templates. An interface to upload CSS templates will be available soon.

To see the comments in action just scroll down to the bottom of this page. Another example (with more comments) may be found by looking at my previous post.

Currently it is rather bootstrapped and in Alpha testing. To try it out for your website you can register for a webmaster account here (Enter mellow as your invitation code). The product is still under heavy development. Feature request, bug reports and comments are more than welcome.

To have a sneak peak at how easy the implementation actually is, view getting started with CommentHub. Plugins for major blogging systems will soon be available. (If anyone feels like contributing some plugins, it would be greatly appreciated.)

Thanks to Symfony for making the development such a pleasure.

Business &PHP &Symfony &Web Development tschellenbach 08 Nov 2007 1 Comment

How the Rubicon Project is innovating Google’s online advertising business

Update: In the comments the founder of the Rubicon Project indicated that they will not be working directly with advertisers. My misperception was based on the TechCrunch write-up. The article below is based on the assumption that they would approach both sides of the problem. Since this is not the case, take this into account when reading the post.


The Rubicon Project is by far the most promising, exciting and revolutionizing startup of the moment. Their business has the potential to completely change the entire web-advertising industry.
They are trying to become an intermediary (of intermediaries) by offering:

  • Publishers: automated ad revenue optimization between networks
  • Advertisers: a central point to setup online advertising (wrong)

They display it in a graphical way in their beta overview video.

Rubicon Industry Value Chain Position

The Changing Industry

An intermediary like Rubicon profoundly changes the competitive landscape for ad networks such as Google Adsense.

Currently startups in the ad network business face a so called chicken and egg problem. Even if you have a technically great product, you will still need advertisers to get publishers and vice-versa. The advertising and sales efforts required in this industry are substantial and present a major obstacle for new companies to enter the market.

Now imagine a new market where Rubicon is the intermediary. Any new advertising network could instantly get its product of the ground by joining Rubicon. No longer are millions in capital needed for sales and promotion. When a startup is able to outperform the market incumbents, in terms of matching advertisements with visitors, it has its road to success paved. Not only does this benefit those startups, it also gives Rubicon’s clients access to the best performing advertising solutions.

Google was the first to get the match between ads and viewers somewhat right. Eager to be next in line seems to be the currently hyped Facebook, with its personalized advertising. My impression is that the current solutions are tremendously under-performing. When an intermediary, be it Rubicon, establishes a position for themselves, innovation in online advertising will boom.

An intermediary like Rubicon changes the balance between required core competences for ad networks. The focus moves from sales&marketing to clever algorithms, extensive data and intelligent models to match the advertisements with the viewers. The market’s changes effectively open up this 27 billion industry to a far larger array of entrepreneurs.

Google’s Perspective

Rubicon effectively lowers the barriers to entry into this Google Adsense dominated market. In the new market situation it will be harder for Google to stay ahead of its competition. This fact makes you wonder, will Google move to the Rubicon position or remain where it is. Or in other words, will it defend its sales competence or its ability to match visitors with advertisements?

If Rubicon succeeds we will soon have some very interesting entrepreneurial possibilities ahead. I certainly wish them the best of luck. Given the experience and progress of the founding team, I think they have a good shot.

@Frank, Good luck starting your sixth company!

Recommended Readings:

Techcrunch coverage of Rubicon

Rubicon about page

Blog of Frank Addante (I subscribed to it, great readings)

Rubicon beta overview video

Business &Web Development tschellenbach 08 Oct 2007 9 Comments

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