One of the most important principles behind successful Web 2.0 startups are without doubt the adoption of Lightweight Models and Cost Effective Scalability patterns. In todays market environment, starting small and then being able to scale with demand is absolutely crucial for a successful Internet-based business. With the advent of numerous open-source operating systems, databases, web servers, content management systems and programming frameworks, businesses are now able to create application servers for virtually free—not counting the money spent on hardware and the services of a technical expert, of course. But with the recent proliferation of cloud-based hosting services, such as Amazon EC2, even the hardware part can be outsourced. Of course, the scalability does not only apply to the technical level but to the business model too. Adopting a scalable and cost-effective market strategy and business model, along with scalable technology, ensures that the final product will hit the market in the shortest possible timeframe while at the same time allowing for future growth.
stock.xchng (also abbreviated as SXC) was launched in 2001 by a Hungarian web designer and entrepreneur Peter Hamza. The unique aspect of the service was that it allowed users to share and download high-resolutions, royalty-free digital photographs and illustrations for free, in contrast to other popular commercial stock exchange sites of the time which often required paid membership. The service has social networking aspects as well: users may set up personal profiles, write personal blog entries, participate in discussions in the forums and comment on each other’s work.
Clearly, the service adopted a very effective scaleable business model right from the start: the technology stack itself was based on open-source technologies (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP, also known as the famous LAMP stack) and the website was operated in the beginning solely by its creators (three people in total), thus minimising the startup costs and the initial investment. The choice of flexible, robust open-source technologies allowed for the site to grow rapidly as the number of users steadily increased. In a relatively short timeframe, stock.xchng gained a massive popularity and evolved into one the most visited stock images providers on the whole Internet. In 2009, the site had over 2,500,000 million registered users and hosted around 400,000 photos, which eventually resulted in the acquisition of the company by Getty Images in 2009.
stock.xchng is a prime example of applying the principles of Lightweight Models and Cost Effective Scalability into practice. It is indeed possible to build a highly successful online business by putting in minimum effort at the start in order to achieve maximum gain in a very short amount of time—just an excellent, unique idea is needed. As more and more free tools, hosting services and cloud-based platforms are becoming available, the barrier of entry gets even lower: one just needs to wire together existing components, services and frameworks, which can often be achieved even without writing a single line of new code. The result of this will be that we will see more and more interesting services emerging and gaining popularity, which is a benefit for the all of us.
stock.xchng – the leading free stock photography site
stock.xchng – site info
Wikipedia – stock.xchng
LAMP (Software Bundle)
Stock Photography, Royalty-Free Photos, Video Footage & Music | Getty Images
Stockxpert / SXC Press Release – HAAP Media Ltd Announces Full Acquisition by Getty Images