What is Fastly, and why did popular websites experience outages?

Amazon, Reddit, The New York Times, CNN saw their websites display 503 error

An outage at Fastly on Tuesday morning resulted in a number of top websites going offline. 

Amazon, Reddit, The New York Times and CNN were among the companies that saw their websites display a 503 error, which indicates a website is unavailable. It typically occurs when a server is overloaded or down for maintenance.

Fastly said at 5:58 a.m. ET that it was "currently investigating potential impact to performance with our CDN services."

The company provided an update at 7:57 a.m. ET that a "fix was applied" and that customers may still experience issues as global services return.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
FSLY FASTLY 55.48 +0.95 +1.74%

So what is Fastly?

The company is a San Francisco-based, cloud-computing services provider, like Amazon Web Services, that uses multiple machines to host the same content, which makes it harder for an outage to occur. 

Fastly's servers store, or "cache," content, such as images and video, in places around the world so they are closer to users, allowing them to fetch it more quickly and smoothly instead of having to access the site’s original server. 

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Fastly was founded in 2011 by Artur Bergman, who served as chief executive officer until February 2020. He stepped down as CEO to become executive chairman and chief architect, and he was replaced by Joshua Bixby. 

Fastly shares, which trade under the ticker FSLY, debuted on the New York Stock Exchange in May 2019 at $21.50 apiece. They closed at an all-time high of $128.83 on Oct. 13, 2020, and settled at $50.70 on Monday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report