Well… Free Day has come and gone. It was most definitely not without some hiccups (ok… ok… full belly burps). We apologize for anyone who was unable to take part in the $100k give away. But let’s revisit the goals
of the Free Day (from the original announcement) and see how we did:
"First and foremost, we want to give back. We've had a stellar year in
2009, and it’s all because of you. So please, have a beer (or a Stepper Motor Driver) on us.“
Did we accomplish this? We think so. This was Free Day's primary goal
because our customers are the biggest part of what makes SparkFun work.
Their innovation and creativity makes this “world” turn. In our opinion,
the beauty of DIY electronics is its openness - this type of technology
should be available to everyone to play around with. We thought limiting
the promotion to just our prior customers would really be going against
this notion. So we opened it up - to everyone. This left some people
feeling jilted and some people ecstatic - but overall, we think this was
a good thing not just for the people who got their order through, but
for the whole DIY electronics community.
"Second: We wish we could sponsor more groups but we don't have a sound
way of selecting appropriate projects. Because we can’t afford to say
yes to everyone, we have to say no to everyone. It pains us every time
we have to do it. So this is a way for us to evenly enable all the
students and great minds of the world to pickup a $100 worth of free
gear. Go for it!“
I think the answer to the first questions answers this as well. We hope
we helped a few people accomplish projects they’ve been dreaming up!
"Third: Free Day will possibly create a maelstrom of site traffic, the
likes of which our servers have not seen. At the beginning of December,
2009, SparkFun will be graduating out of its high-chair and moving into
a server cluster. We are excited to have the breathing room, and Free
Day will help us evaluate just how much breathing room we’re getting.
We’ll do everything in our power to keep the site up but please
understand that the site may go down.“
This was, of course, more than just a test for our servers - we could've
done that virtually and I think anyone who participated in Free Day
knows how this worked. Our server went down three times during this
ordeal. Once, it really broke on its own (the day before Free Day).
Yikes. The other two times, we took it down on purpose before Free Day
started to make upgrades we knew we’d need to have even a fighting
chance of completing the day. Did our upgrades work? Yes and no. Yes, we
were able to finish Free Day. No, it didn’t go as smoothly as we hoped.
Our site was slow as molasseses. We learned a ton in the IT realm of
things and will use that information down the line.
We hope in the meantime your F5 key is still intact and functioning.
"Fourth: We turn 7 years old! SparkFun is now over 70 employees and is
the ripe old age of 49 (in business and dog years). We’d like to
celebrate our birthday with a party.“
Was it fun? Sure! But what we are really looking forward to is
what comes down the line a week, a month, a year from now. We hope
someone out there got a few things from Free Day and will create
something really cool, or just start down the path of DIY electronics
and get the same enjoyment we do out of this cool stuff.
So now let's look at some graphs and stats!
The SparkFun IRC
chat room nearly took down Freenode! We love you Freenode
Thank you Freenode for hosting our crazy day! We where the busiest chat room on IRC for a few hours today. We beat out ubuntu and debian for a bit.
We peaked the SparkFun chat room
with about 2400 users. It was very insane. Graph came from a SparkFun friend who was parsing the user levels.
For a few hours, SparkFun was the number one search term
on the internet. Wow. The power of having a friend recommend a site through Twitter, Facebook, email, and everything else is incredibly amazing.
And up there with the Google traffic, Twitter was ablaze! We barely made it onto the trends list for about an hour. We were up there with CES and Nexus One! Wow.
And from Twitter, we discovered some hilarious photos and words of encouragement. Dan submitted this photo. F5 is the refresh button which was widely needed on Free Day as page load times increased significantly.
We received over 2,000 guesses
as to when Free Day would expire! The winner of $200 was off by three seconds! Guess:
Distribution of countries (by number of orders):
- Total given away: $100,587.80
- Total free day orders: 1,035
- Total units sold: 12,185
- Largest order (before discount): $425.42 (discounted $100.00)
- Smallest order (before discount): $34.53 (discounted $29.95)
- Average order (before discount): $126.73
- Most popular product: COM-00097 (Mini Push Button Switch - 254 units)
- Most products in one order: 153
- United States 803
- Canada 66
- Australia 38
- United Kingdom 27
- Netherlands 18
- France 16
- Germany 13
- Sweden 12
- New Zealand 8
- Finland 8
- Spain 8
- Italy 6
- Switzerland 5
- Singapore 5
- South Africa 4
- Brazil 3
- Portugal 3
- Turkey 3
- Denmark 3
- Sri Lanka 2
- Austria 2
- Belgium 2
- Hungary 2
- Estonia 1
- Iceland 1
- India 1
- Chile 1
- Czech Republic 1
- Mexico 1
- Greece 1
On Monday of this week, we were up to 33,000 visit, way above our normal average. Tuesday 41,619 - nearly a record for us (record was Free Day announcement of 46,442). Wednesday (we went down twice that day, once on purpose, once because the database broke) we hit 72,047 visits! That’s incredible! We knew Free Day was really going to hurt. On Thursday, Free Day itself, we are still waiting for Google Analytics to catch up but it’s obvious we will peak over 111,493 visits today we peaked at 169,132 visits. We took the site down once at 8AM to make some last minute mods, but were able to keep the site from completely breaking down. We were effectively under a self-inflicted denial of service attack but pages loaded, albeit slowly! 169,132 visits! Ow it hurt!
We went from 5mbps back in December to 32mbps in January. Necessity is the mother of invention. With load on our servers hitting nearly 10 times anything we’ve seen before, we learned very quickly how we needed to patch and streamline our site to squeeze every ounce of throughput out of our little e-commerce system. Our site is now running snappier than ever and this is one of the biggest days we’ve seen in our history. Nice job IT.
Every order isn’t going to ship on Free Day, or for a few days after.
We’ve got extra tape guns on hand, but please be patient and give us
some time to catch up! We will get every order out but it will take at least a week to get back to our normal shipping speed.
In the end was it worth it? Completely! Either way you slice it, we got $100 worth of goods into the hands of 1,000 new customers and repeat friends. Did we anger people? For sure, but as user “lukeweston” on Twitter so elegantly put it: “This is a bizzare form of nerd torture”. We had a blast and hope you enjoyed the excitement and entertainment of the morning. Cheers!