How I Met Rackspace: One Startup’s Encounter With Neil Patrick Harris

This is a guest post written and contributed by Ross Ingram of Orbotix, maker of Sphero, a robotic ball gaming system. Orbotix is part of the Rackspace Startup Program.

When Neil Patrick Harris (NPH) tweets, the world listens.

On February 23, 2012, NPH tweeted a tongue-in-cheek missive about our Sphero product, which contained a link to our site ( It was an awesome plug from the star of “How I Met Your Mother” and “Doogie Howser, M.D.” that had the potential to reach NPH’s nearly four million Twitter followers.

I quickly got an email notifying us that we had just had a huge spike in traffic. Seconds later, another email said that our site was unreachable.

We waited more than 20 minutes to talk to a live person at our previous hosting provider, all the while tens of thousands of potential customers were unable to reach our page. After finally reaching support, we found that because of technical limitations we were unable to scale our hosting to handle the traffic. We completely missed a major opportunity for massive views.

We’re a startup. And if all goes well, startups outgrow things such as office space, consultants and (in this case) hosting providers. After the NPH incident, we talked to Rob La Gesse at Rackspace, who pointed us towards the Rackspace Startup Program. Fully migrating to Rackspace was a huge relief – and we did it just in time! A few months later, President Obama took our product, Sphero, for a test drive when visiting town and we saw a similar spike in traffic. This time, the site held up just fine.

Sphero is the first robotic ball gaming system that you control with a tilt, touch, or swing from your smartphone or tablet. You can even use Sphero as a controller for on-screen gameplay. Sphero delivers a unique mixed-reality experience with single and multi-player apps that let you engage in the virtual world and play in the real one. For more information, check out


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