Heavy demand during the SXSW conference proved more than the small ride-hail upstarts in Austin, Texas — where the giants, Uber and Lyft, don't operate — could handle.
Ride Austin, one of the most popular local ride-hail alternatives, was down for nearly five hours last night — the first big night of the annual tech, film and music conference, and already a busy Saturday night. And Fasten, another similar service that operates in Austin, didn’t work for many of its users for an hour during one of the busiest parts of the evening.
Spent an hour trying to find a ride.— Ryan Hoover (@rrhoover) March 12, 2017
Austin is broken w/o Uber or Lyft. Other ridesharing apps aren't working and all the taxis are full.
Ride Austin admitted to its hours-long struggles in a detailed Facebook post last night.
“We were sporadic from 7:15 pm to midnight due to a previously undiscovered database issue that did not emerge during our scale testing,” Ride Austin wrote. “We believe it's fully solved and will not occur again.”
The issue, Ride Austin wrote, may have had to do with a deluge of rider and driver requests that came after another ride-sharing app failed.
Ride Austin doesn't name that competitor, but it's possible it was Fasten, another popular ride-hail service in Austin that was also overwhelmed last night.
“Unfortunately, we were down for a little bit less than an hour last night,” Kirill Evdakov, the CEO of Fasten, told Recode. “It was Saturday night, so during the busiest hour of the busiest night.”
Fasten didn’t completely shut down for that hour though, but for many users, the app was taking a very long time to open, according to Evdakov — who also said this happened after many of his competitors’ apps stopped working all at once.
It's worth noting that Uber, which has raised billions of dollars, typically doesn't struggle with infrastructure problems. Though SXSW, which brings some 70,000 extra visitors to Austin — many in a concentrated area downtown — isn't exactly a typical demand spike to solve for.
Uber and Lyft left Austin last year after losing an expensive fight against a ballot measure that would have required the ride-hail companies to conduct fingerprint background checks on drivers.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.