TL;DR; “The Internet is full of chimpanzees.”
I suppose that if you’re a Y Combinator startup storing passwords in plaintext, it allows you to store them in a VARCHAR(n). That’s something, right?
You may think I hate Y Combinator. I don’t. At least, not as much as whoever has the phone number (214) 748-3647. That person is constantly getting calls, and inside a SQL database set up by a YC founder (well, more than one) is the reason why.
You should probably mention that 2147483647 is the maximum signed 32-bit integer. That’s a bit higher than the powers of two I recognize off the top of my head.
Also, that story is almost certainly apocryphal, because most US phone numbers, including all of San Francisco, are greater than that. Such a system would never have passed a smoke test.