Google-owned video sharing site YouTube, whose marketers have billed it as the word’s second largest search engine, is currently throwing HTTP error messages at some of the Web surfers trying to check out the site’s new look or, more likely, just wanting to watch some clips.

There’s a lesson for startup founders here. Too often, companies who approach VentureBeat for coverage try to schedule a big launch event in which news about the company is published at the same time the engineering team throws the big red switch on an all-new website.

Bad idea. It’s better to update the site quietly, even if you’re making the move from private beta to public availability and risk having a few people find it before you get the word out. A high-profile launch risks knocking the site down just when it’s being looked at critically.

From my experience, launch events are often pushed by investors who want to create buzz around their funding decisions. It’s tough to say no to the people holding the purse strings, but show them this screenshot and ask if that’s what they want potential customers to see as their first impression. YouTube can get away with it. You can’t.