Inside View of the MIT 100K Competition—How One Team Got to Tonight’s Finals

5/13/09

We were checking in at the front desk for one of the $100K events, and the security guard asked me, “So, the 100K—the ‘K’ is for kilometers? It’s some sort of race?”

No, it’s not a race, it’s MIT’s entrepreneurship competition. We’re the Web/IT track winner, and tonight we’ll be competing for the $100K grand prize in Kresge Auditorium at MIT. Rodney Brooks (co-founder and former CTO of iRobot and the founder and CTO of Heartland Robotics) will be giving a keynote, each of the track winners will give a three-minute pitch, and one lucky team will take home a giant check. It’s also the 20th anniversary of the competition, and they’ve promised to put on quite a show.

Getting this far has required some endurance, though, so maybe the guard wasn’t so wrong after all. Our company, Ksplice, has developed technology that can install software updates while applications are running, without a system restart. You know those annoying, “You must reboot to install new updates” pop-ups? We make those obsolete.

World domination scheme? We plan to license this technology directly to vendors. Your SAN, routers, virtualization layer, OS, database, ERP, and mail server are all critical to your business—and all need rebootless updates. It’s basically impossible to find a piece of audio equipment without a Dolby logo on it. Similarly, any self-respecting application or device will be Ksplice-enabled.

Ksplice logoSo who is Ksplice? Jeff Arnold, Tim Abbott, Anders Kaseorg, Nelson Elhage, and Waseem Daher (me). We’re all MIT engineers (four recent graduates and one, Nelson, still in school), and we’ve been working together on challenging software projects for quite some time now.

In fact, the initial spark that led to Ksplice came in 2006, from a problem Jeff encountered while maintaining servers at MIT. A new security update came out in the middle of the week, over the summer. Jeff was working a summer job at the time, so he decided to put it off until the middle of the night on the weekend, since the systems’ many users would not appreciate an outage during the day. Of course, this decision proved painful—the machine was compromised mid-week, and everything had to be wiped and reinstalled.

Naturally, Jeff cursed the powers that be, shook his fist at the cloudy sky, and vowed revenge as the rain came pouring down on him. But he was vindicated: his award-winning master’s thesis … Next Page »

Waseem Daher founded Ksplice in 2008 and was its COO until its acquisition by Oracle in 2011. He can be reached at wdaher@gmail.com. Follow @

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  • http://www.xconomy.com/author/bbuderi/ Robert Buderi

    Congrats to Ksplice–and thanks to Waseem for the great article!

  • Pingback: Improvisations » Innovation born from frustration « MIT Sloan Management Review

  • Joia

    Wow! Congrats guys!

  • http://www.inowweb.com custom joomla development guy

    congrats guys! and best wishes :D

  • Jyoti Ballabh

    A great article and congrats to the team members of Ksplice. Well done! A great article, Waseem.

  • http://www.youniquesoftlab.pl Projektowanie Stron Internetowych

    Congrats to Ksplice