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Soon after Wale took to Twitter with the news that fans could download his latest mixtape, the download page crashed. The Eleven One Eleven Theory had been uploaded to HulkShare, a site that Jay-Z‘s Life and Times blog linked to when it debuted the mixtape. The influx of traffic overwhelmed Hulkshare’s file servers. Even after Wale tweeted about a new download link—-this time on Sendspace—-download issues persisted on both sites.
This is all new for HulkShare founder and CEO Ted Brinkofski. Like any startup site, HulkShare has run into “downtime issues here and there and random things,” Brinkofski says. “This is actually the first time it’s due to an existing file.” It’s certainly an exciting milestone, but not an entirely pleasurable one. “It’s really upsetting,” Brinkofski says. “We could have prepared for it instead of getting all these complaints from users.” There are methods for handling heavy traffic to one specific page—-like setting up shared hosting—-which Brinkofski says his team could have employed. “I wish I had known in advance, it would’ve been amazing,” he says.
Brinkofski, 21, launched HulkShare in 2009 as a student at Cornell University. As the site has grown, he’s gathered an international team, members working from Norway, Brazil, Thailand, Israel, and other parts around the world to keep the site operating smoothly. HulkShare isn’t Brinkofski’s lone project: He recently moved to Scottsdale, Ariz., to work with Gorilla Leak, a website geared towards finding new ways to support independent artists—-especially hip-hop acts.
“Hip-hop is my life right now,” Brinkofski says. “I’m just trying to do positive things for the community…people have not been monetizing it properly, so I’m trying to build a platform for the long-term.” It’s an approach he’s focused on with HulkShare: At one point, he had a partnership with social-media savant and oddball rapper Lil B. “I used to sponsor him back in the day,” Brinkofski says. “I paid him monthly and put him on the front of the site.” There are screenshots floating around online that show Lil B. on the site’s homepage, with a word bubble emerging from his mouth: “HulkShare provides the best way for me to spread my #BASED music to my fans through blogs, websites, and forums…”
Wale is hardly the first rapper to use HulkShare as the go-to for uploading a mixtape and spreading it to the masses. Brinkofski says folks like Soulja Boy and J. Cole went to the site for some of their work, and the first link for Lil Wayne‘s recent Sorry 4 the Wait had a HulkShare URL. All of those pages went out into the public without any issue: For one reason or another, the overflow of users trying to nab The Eleven One Eleven Theory from HulkShare presented the site with its first case of a tech issue known as “popularity.”
The HulkShare team fixed the issue by the time I spoke with Brinkofski early yesterday evening. At that point, Brinkofski still hadn’t listened to Wale’s mixtape: Though he likes the rapper, Brinkofski doesn’t listen to him all that much. “I’m more of a Wiz Khalifa fan,” he says.