Company News CEO Jeff Bezos on Animoto

Jason Hsiao


Jeff Bezos, Founder & CEO of, features Animoto during his presentation at Stanford University.

This past weekend Jeff Bezos, Founder & CEO of, featured Animoto during his presentation at this year’s Y Combinator’s Startup School before a crowd of over 650 developers, writers, and entrepreneurs. He even quoted Brad during his speech. Pretty sweet.

Here’s the full transcript of his speech.

Jeff Bezos
Stanford’s Kresge Auditorium
April 19th, 2008

Here’s one that’s happening in real time just over the last few days. It’s a fantastic example of Amazon Web Services. A company called Animoto.

Basically what Animoto does is they make it really easy for people to create videos with their own photos or their own music. Or there’s also royalty-free music that Animoto has on their website.

The way it works is they have some “secret sauce” in their software that listens to the cadence of the music and it basically auto-edits the photos and aligns them with the music so it looks good. They cut from one photos to the next at the right point in the rhythm of the music and so on.

If you’ve ever hand-edited something, it’s actually quite difficult to do.

And so after it’s mixed the video for you with your photos, if you don’t like that particular mix, you just hit a button and it does it again. So you can just iterate through a few iterations until you find a mix you really like. And it makes this incredibly simple.

This system is built on top of Amazon Web Services. In fact, they use many of our services: the simply queue service, they use S3, and they use EC2. I’m going to talk mostly about EC2.

Let me show you a graph. This is all happening over the last three days. This is Animoto’s EC2 instance use. This is the number of server instances they’re using. (Let’s see if I can get this laser-pointer to work).

So they’re kind of going along here. This is about 50 EC2 instances down here. Their Facebook app kind of broke through. And so this is their Facebook app taking off. This is just three days ago, April 16th.

You can see they’ve gone from 50 instances of EC2 usage up to 3,500 instances of EC2 usage. It’s completely impractical in your own data center over the course of three days to scale from 50 servers to 3,500 servers. Don’t try this at home.

And by the way, the other alternative might be to raise enough capital to deploy 3,500 servers. That’s sort of equally insane because it’s just way too big of a gamble. You don’t know whether you’re going to get this app to take off in that way and you shouldn’t be deploying that kind of capital.

The other thing that’s interesting to note here is… see these big drops? This is the elastic part of the Elastic Compute Cloud because programmatically all of this is controlled with API’s. You write computer programs to deploy and un-deploy EC2 instances.

In the middle of the night or weak period of demand they can actually give back EC2 instances to the cloud, and they’re not paying for them once they give them back. And then we can try and resell them somebody else who perhaps doesn’t have such time sensitive demand: graphic renders, scientific applications, and so on. They’re a bunch of applications that are more flexible and we can use those more flexible kinds of applications to smooth out the demand curve and make better use out of the underlying physical hardware. So that’s one of the system-wide structural advantages of this kind of pooled computing.

But you really see from a startup company’s point of view, this is a very dramatic three-day period. By the way, it’s still growing. I think today they’re peaking at 5,000 instances. So… pretty cool case study.

Here’s from Brad Jefferson the Co-Founder and CEO of Animoto:

“Before AWS, we simply could not have launched and our professional video rendering platform at our current scale without massive CapEx and a lot of VC funding. The viral spike in Animoto video creations we experienced this week would have been disastrous without AWS.”

And you do face this issue whenever you have a startup company. You want to be prepared for lightening to strike because if you’re not that generates a big regret. If lightning strikes and you weren’t ready for it, that’s kind of hard to live with. At the same time, you don’t want to prepare your physical infrastructure to hubris levels either in the case that lightening doesn’t strike. So this kind of helps with that tough situation.

… When we see something like Animoto, it’s very inspiring to us. It is a big part of why we built these services: to make just this sort of thing possible.

Huge thanks to everyone at Amazon and on the AWS team for all your support.

We also owe a massive thank you to Thorsten von Eiken and Josep Blanquer of RightScale, and the whole Hungry Machine team, specifically our man Aaron Batalion. Seriously, we love you guys. (Ummm… in a techie-to-techie kind of way).