Why Did The New York Times Paywall Cost $40 Million?

There’s been a lot of speculation as to how the New York Times‘ paywall cost a whopping $40-50 million. The final product is hardly a fortress, seeing as everyday another amateur hacker seems to come up with a theory of how to work around it. And the Times certainly didn’t spend it copy-editing their advertising.

Philip Greenspun explains the exorbitant sum:

A monster database server to keep track of which readers downloaded how many articles? They should already have been tracking some of that for ad targeting. In any case, a rack of database servers shouldn’t cost $40 million.

How much should it have cost, exactly? Greenspun puts it in perspective:

I built a pay wall back in 1995 for the MIT Press… I can’t remember exactly what I charged the Press, but it was only a few days of work and I think the invoice worked out to approximately $40 million less than $40 million.

Times, you were robbed.