Blogging startup Tumblr apologizes for growing pains

TumblrTumblr, the fast-growing, well-funded startup which offers a simple blogging service, stumbled rather badly this weekend. Its site went down for what appears to be almost 24 hours and took its users’ blogs down with it.

The good thing is that Tumblr is back, and apparently without any loss of data — now I can go back to reading about hipster puppies! But in an atmosphere where you see a flood of complaints whenever there’s any downtime on Facebook, Twitter, or, more relevantly, blog-hosting site WordPress.com, a day is an eternity. The VentureBeat team would be throwing chairs through windows if our hosting service ever went down for even half that long.

And while the length is unprecedented, today’s downtime wasn’t an isolated incident. Tumblr has been experiencing growing pains for a while now as it tries to keep up with rapid traffic growth. In a new blog post, the New York-based startup acknowledges the problem:

Yesterday afternoon, during planned maintenance that was not intended to interrupt service, an issue arose that took down a critical database cluster. This brought down our entire network while our engineers worked feverishly to restore these databases and bring your blogs back online.

While you might feel like you’ve gotten used to seeing errors on Tumblr recently, know that this is absolutely unacceptable to our team, and unacceptable for a platform determined to be the best place in the world for your creative expression.

Frankly, keeping up with growth has presented more work than our small team was prepared for — with traffic now climbing more than 500M pageviews each month. But we are determined and focused on bringing our infrastructure well ahead of capacity as quickly as possible. We’ve nearly quadrupled our engineering team this month alone, and continue to distribute and enhance our architecture to be more resilient to failures like today’s.

The outage comes as Tumblr is rumored to be closing a $25 to $30 million round led by Sequoia Capital. This could lead to some awkward conversations with investors, but hopefully the new money is what the site needs to keep things running smoothly.