Chris Zacharias

Founder of imgix. YCombinator alum. Ex-YouTuber. Studied New Media at RIT.

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Page Weight Matters

Three years ago, while I was a web developer at YouTube, one of the senior engineers began a rant about the page weight of the video watch page being far too large. The page had ballooned to as high as 1.2MB and dozens of requests. This engineer openly vented that “if they can write an entire Quake clone in under 100KB, we have no excuse for this!” Given that I agreed with him and I was excited to find a new project, I decided to champion the cause of getting the YouTube watch page to weigh in under 100KB. On the shuttle home from San Bruno that night, I coded up a prototype. I decided to limit the functionality to just a basic masthead, the video player, five related videos, a sharing button, a flagging tool, and ten comments loaded in via AJAX. I code-named the project “Feather”.

Even with such a limited set of features, the page was weighing in at 250KB. I...

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Investors

When I was going through YCombinator in the summer of 2011, I felt like I was the only person in the entire class who knew nothing about taking investment. I remember distinctly when Jessica Livingston announced the $150K we would be getting from SV Angel and Start Fund. When she told us the terms, the room erupted in shouting and applause. I sat there Googling nervously, trying to understand what had just been said and wondering if I really belonged in YC at all.

Being surrounded by such a select group of founders, each in varying stages of building their companies, you pick up the knowledge you need very quickly. This is the most valuable part of the 3-month YCombinator session. One piece of knowledge you learn very early on is that investors tend to have a herd mentality. What I would later realize through observation was that founders tend to as well.

I remember getting the...

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Cruise Ships

In July of 2010, I made the decision to leave YouTube. The first thoughts I had were “How am I going to explain this to anyone? How will I tell mom?” To my family, I had the greatest job in the world and the amount of money I was making was unfathomable. They were certainly not wrong in thinking this. Google is absolutely the best place in the world to work and they do pay very well. It certainly was not an easy decision on my part.

About 4 months before, I was backpacking through Europe, stopping off in major cities to present our latest HTML5 work at the local Google offices. It was my first time really exploring a different part of the world. I met fascinating people and experienced many random adventures. I was trapped in Stockholm for 9 days due to the Icelandic ash cloud. I was a successful stowaway on a train from Copenhagen to Hamburg. I had a girlfriend break up...

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