Erlang Innovation Race: The Winners!

by Andra Dinu

On Saturday 10 million people turned on their tellies to watch the Grand National race, and we wanted to celebrate this beloved British tradition in our own way. Alas, we know little about horses and racing, but we take pride in knowing a lot about technology. We picked some pretty cool Erlang companies and over the weekend we allowed everybody to push them ahead in the race with one click. Rumor has it that our office manager played the bookie and ran the bets in the office, but we can neither confirm nor deny these allegations :P Before we review the winner, take a look at the companies in the race and their use of Erlang:

Klarna: Europe’s leading payment solutions providers. Klarna was valued at $2.25 billion before their U.S launch in 2015. They use Erlang for concurrent, realtime domains, along with Riak for storing data where availability trumps consistency.

Grindr: The world’s largest gay social network, recently announced they geared up their scalable platform to expand from app into lifestyle service. They use Erlang in their core platform and MongooseIM in their chat.

Fermilab: There are very few things cooler or more innovative than a particle accelerator. USA’s particle accelerator uses Erlang extensively in their control systems.

Ericsson: The birthplace of Erlang. Ericsson now supports and maintains it through their OPT unit. The company turned 140 years old last week, and their innovation accomplishments speak for themselves.

Machine Zone: The mobile gaming phenomenon announced yesterday the launch of RTplatform, a cloud platform that, “connects and engages people-devices-data simultaneously in real time…at unparalleled speed, capacity and affordability. They use Erlang extensively, including in their Game of War chat app.

Sqor Sports: This Erlang startup uses Erlang for their backend application and MongooseIM in their chat app. Set out to revolutionise how sports fans interact with athletes, and after taking over the US they are now expanding to Europe, starting with Bayern Munchen FC partnership.

bet365: UK’s leading online betting and gambling company switched to Erlang 3 years ago and never looked back. They have become such fierce Erlang advocates they recently open sourced Erlang tools. (Thank you bet365!)

Aol: Their leading real-time ad exchange platform Marketplace revolutionised the RTB market in 2013. The platform is a merger of Erlang, Java and C++ and serves up to 40 billion auction requests per day.

Whatsapp: The poster child of Erlang companies serves over 1 billion users with a team of 50 engineers. They recently switched to end-to-end encryption, possibly the world’s largest-ever implementation of this standard of encryption in a messaging service.

EE: As of 12 February 2016, EE’s 4G network reaches more than 95% of the UK population, with double speed 4G reaching 80%. Erlang/OTP has been in use at EE for the past 15 years.

Why an “Innovation Race” ? The importance a company gives to innovation is a sure marker of their growth and success, and world’s most successful companies are the most innovative ones. What drives innovation? According to the Boston Consulting Group there are 4 interrelated factors: quickly adopting new technologies; leveraging existing technology platforms to expand into new sectors; lean R&D processes and adopting technology across the entire business instead keeping it only in the IT department. Erlang is not exactly a new technology, but it seems that more and more companies are just discovering it. Initially developed for telecomms, Erlang is finding more and more usage in new sectors such as above and there are excellent use cases for Big Data and the Internet of Things.

For many companies, getting over a certain number of users means that the ability to innovate quickly is lost. Precious time is spent constantly rewriting software so it runs at the scale needed to run the business and getting a new innovation to scale often means that they can’t get it out of the door fast enough. Here’s where Erlang comes in handy, with its support for millions of lightweight processes and its functional paradigm allow companies to build massively concurrent and fault tolerant applications quickly, with profound reduction in the complexity of the code base.

At the end of the day, for any company innovation leadership translates into profit. Two of the world’s hottest startups on the ‘Unicorn Valuation’ list know a thing or two about Erlang: 10% of the 230 billion dollars generated by the top 20 unicorns came from Whatsapp and MachineZone. In addition, many of the 20 companies on the list that are not not using Erlang, often use a component in their stack written in Erlang like: RabbitMQ, Ejabberd or Riak.

And now, here are the winners of our Erlang Innovation Race:

1st place Whatsapp: 36.51% of votes

2nd place Ericsson: 22.22%

3rd place bet365: 12.70%


We can’t wait to see who will run the Erlang race next year!


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