Jon Macdonald – CEO, Trade Me

“There have been enormous technical challenges for Trade Me. Through that period of strong growth, there were a lot of stresses. Growth is a good thing but with growth comes strains and growing pains and we certainly had our fair share of those. Trade Me is very much a 24/7 business and I think that that took its toll on all of the people at Trade Me at the time, especially operations people. There were some early people at Trade Me who devoted an enormous amount of their time and personal energy to getting through those enormous periods of growth. And it keeps on going. We, just this weekend, shifted to new infrastructure for our databases where, in a nutshell, they now run all off solid-state memory so all our entire databases, running out of RAM effectively, the fast memory in your computer as opposed to disks. I’m sure there’ll be more and more advances that we’ll make over time. I also remember back to the early days where Trade Me’s infrastructure was pretty simple and, at times, in retrospect, we were pretty exposed if something had broken on us badly. There are good memories as well. I remember when we shifted our kit out of a corporate computer room into a dedicated hosting centre. We had two guys – two of the early gurus of Trade Me – Paul Gold and Andrew Swaine doing the hard work at either end and Sam and I were just manual labour but we were shipping this computer kit at two in the morning in my girlfriend’s Corolla toiling up and down Wellington. It was good. We were shitting ourselves at the time because we hoped to get it back up in the morning and we were quite conscious that if we dropped the disk array that had Trade Me’s database, we were screwed. But we got there and we made it in the end. I look back at a whole host of things like that have led to Trade Me growing and growing and becoming what it is.”


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