Oleg Gutsol, CEO 500px
Tell me about you and your cofounders. How did you meet? How did you decide to found 500px?
500px was launched in late 2009 by me and Evgeny Tchebotarev. The idea goes back to 2004, though, when we launched a blog dedicated to the best photography in the world. At the time, one of the requirements for the photos was a width of 500 pixels, hence the name. That requirement has since been dropped, but we kept the name 500px because it came to be known as the place for great photography.
Evgeny and I met in Toronto, quite a while ago, and connected through a common interest in motorcycles.
What other companies have you founded? How did that experience help you at 500px?
Evgeny was hired as the CEO at a Moscow startup called Temarium, which was a blogging platform. Unfortunately, it has since shutdown. While studying at Ryerson, I founded GSM Toronto, an online marketplace for mobile phones. I also got out of that business after my co-founder left the company.
I think both of us sort of always knew that we would not be able to work for someone else or some large corporation, so we had to start something ourselves. So we did : )
Why did you choose to start a company in Toronto?
We both lived in Toronto, so we didn't really choose. Although in the early days, we considered moving to some place warm and cheap - Thailand was the one we discussed - but decided against it.
In your own words, what is 500px's mission?
500px's mission is to the create the highest quality online photography platform in the world.
What do you see as your biggest technological challenges in the next 1-2 years?
I think scalability will always be our biggest challenge: data storage, real time retrieval and processing. Also, we are looking to address problems like image recognition, recommendations, discovery and popularity algorithms.
Tell us a bit about the technologies / platform you're using now.
We are using lots of different things, among them: Ruby, Python, Java, Objective-C, Lua, MySQL, MongoDB, Redis, Memcache. Also, we plan to use Riak and Hadoop in the future.
Why did you choose to sponsor PyCon Canada?
Because we are a company that uses Python technology, we want to be an active member of the Python community in Canada. Also, we are looking for great developers, so PyCon Canada is a great opportunity to connect with the great Python devs.
What other things are you passionate about besides your mission at 500px?
Personally, I am passionate about psychology and creating excellent user experiences. I also like things like motorcycles and snowboarding : )