Thanks to Twitter’s early(-ish) scaling problems, there are few more recognizable images of web 2.0 than the Fail Whale. But what’s less well known is how the iconic graphic came in to being. Or indeed how close it came to being the Fail Elephant.

Yiying Lu, the creator of the Whale, recently arrived in Vegas to launch her new company, Walls 360 (see — all the cool kids are moving to Vegas). In the first part of a two part video interview, she explains how her creation went from a friendship note to her friends back in China to the world’s most infuriating mysticetus.

(I’ll post part two, in which Yiying explains her plans for Walls360, later this afternoon.)