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As presented at LOGIN 2010, Seattle, WA on March 13, 2010.
IMVU has become a leader in virtual goods, avatars and user generated content. Open Source Software has been critical to this success, helping IMVU scale to 45 million registered users, a $30 million run rate and a catalog of over 3 million user-generated virtual goods. As a result, IMVU is the largest running installation of multiple Open Source Software projects.
One of the key factors to IMVU’s success was experimenting with features to discover a product that would lead to a profitable business. To conserve cash and allow the most focus on product and feature experiments, Open Source Software was heavily utilized to solve any problem that was not specific to the IMVU offering. This approach allowed rapid iteration and testing of feature ideas instead of large development / big-bet type features. In many cases project that would have been several months of work were delivered, tested and abandoned in days. In other cases, features were tested, found successful and adopted – these frequently lead to a new set of problems, from security vulnerabilities to scaling limitations.