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Hosting Douchebags

September 10, 2012 — Leave a comment

Kick a guy when he is down? You might as well kick your own customers in the junk while you are at it.

Godaddy has had its fair share of problems, everyone has. Today they had a big one.

Ouch!

Competition jumps in and starts kicking.

And the best

Jesus people.. have some class. The sad thing is this has become so common place. I think you can make a solid case why your service is better/faster/stronger than a competitor without having to resort to tactics like this. For the % of customers your offer attracts, how many are you turning off by being a total douchebag?

 

 

We sort of pride ourselves at Pagely for being the “first” in just about everything we have done.

The merits of the first mover advantage have been hotly debated if not outright dismissed. However Brad Feld says be a niche first mover.

Several people challenged this idea in the comments and there are many investors that like to invest in “fast followers” (I’m not one of them.) There’s also a well worn cliche that you can identify early leaders as they are the ones with arrows in their back. While I understand the convention wisdom around this, especially in the context of corporate strategy and general innovation theory, I take a different approach, especially in very fast moving markets like the ones I invest in.

On the opposite end is the Fast follower argument. Which essentially says while the first mover faced the challenges of innovation, customer education, and proving the concept; the Fast follower has the luxury of entering a warm market and learning from the mistakes of the first mover. There is also the advantage of being able to say: “We are just like X, but we do Y differently”.  Being able to explain the gist of the business with a simple contrast is a luxury the first mover did not have during the market education phase.

If we were to do it again, I still think we would opt to be a first mover. Even with the extra challenges that go with it for 1 simple reason: Never having to say “Me too”. When your company is innovating in the space, you never get caught in the situation where you are forced to duplicate a feature or product to stay relevant. In the follower positon, companies do a lot of reacting to others in the space. The best efforts of the fast follower marketing team may present the new item in all sorts of gloss and sparkle, but the underlying message is “we now do this too”.

This is not the case across the board. Certainly many a 2nd-3rd or 10th entry into a space has out maneuvered the entrenched players and gone on to win the day: al a facebook, google, etc.

Recent happenings in our own space got me thinking about the Me Too’s. About this time last year we laid out plans for what is now our new API driven account and infrastructure management system. In June we relaunched our entire system and made our new Partner API available publicly a few days ago.

Company X in our space is working on a similar product, and they chose to mention our press to provide context for their Me Too pitch they made to the target users of the product a few days after our annoucement. This is the meat of slightly longer email sent out by another hosting company within a day or two of our Partner API announcement.

To Theme shop owner

We’re aware that there have been some announcements in the past few days about opportunities for theme marketplaces like yourself to partner with hosting companies and offer tightly integrated, white-labeled managed hosting to their customers via partner APIs.

We wanted to let you all know that, while we have not publicly announced this yet, [company X] has already developed a Partner API which we’ve been “bedding in” for a few months with a select number of partners in order to ensure stability.

… we’d hope there would be opportunity to speak with you about what we have going on over at [company X]  in this space.

 

*SMH*

Now getting beat to market happens all the time in all spaces. We were working on a product that was to be an “app store” for WordPress plugins and themes.. before we got it finished and to market the WP App Store plugin launched beating us to the punch. We had a choice, push ahead and be the Me Too, or shelve it. We ultimately decided to adapt parts of it for something else, and shelve the concept. We just had no interest in getting out there and trying to promote a product that was 2nd to the game.

Being a first mover is hard. Being a fast follower is probably difficult too. Startups in general are an exercise in self torture some say. At the end of the day it just comes down to execution and how well you do it. Some of the followers in our space have executed on things amazingly well,  some not so much, we have had our share of misses as well. Chances are good this other company will execute on their partner play well, and it will be fun to see how it shakes out. This affiliate seems to like Pagely.

For my personal taste I prefer getting out front, the target painted on ours backs be damned.

I sort of pride myself in being able to hold conflicting ideas in my head at the same time. Being able to consider multiple viewpoints at once. Imagine how much easier things would be in the world if everyone did this.  The religious could also consider science as valid, the conservatives could consider progressive viewpoints as valid.. etc. Being able to anchor yourself in a position to consider the merits of both sides.

GENIUSES THINK IN OPPOSITES.
Physicist and philosopher David Bohm believed geniuses were able to think different thoughts because they could tolerate ambivalence between opposites or two incompatible subjects. Dr. Albert Rothenberg, a noted researcher on the creative process, identified this ability in a wide variety of geniuses including Einstein, Mozart, Edison, Pasteur, Joseph Conrad, and Picasso in his 1990 book The Emerging Goddess: The Creative Process in Art, Science and Other Fields. Physicist Niels Bohr believed that if you held opposites together, then you suspend your thought and your mind moves to a new level. The suspension of thought allows an intelligence beyond thought to act and create a new form. The swirling of opposites creates the conditions for a new point of view to bubble freely from your mind. Bohr’s ability to imagine light as both a particle and a wave led to his conception of the principle of complementarity. Thomas Edison’s invention of a practical system of lighting involved combining wiring in parallel circuits with high resistance filaments in his bulbs, two things that were not considered possible by conventional thinkers, in fact were not considered at all because of an assumed incompatibility. Because Edison could tolerate the ambivalence between two incompatible things, he could see the relationship that led to his breakthrough. Full Article

Puffy customers

May 9, 2012 — Leave a comment

Hey ego man with 10 followers, shut the fuck up. This guy too.

What is it with people now-a-days and their “Do you know who I am and I’ll talk bad on twitter about you” bullshit. I had a customer, mind you a $20/mo customer, pull this card today.

Please terminate page.ly service and reverse the original credit card charges. If you check the correspondence with [REDACTED] on our behalf, you will see your organization’s work and responsiveness has been completely indadequate. It took us one day to accomplish with a new hosting service what we were unable to accomplish with you in a week. I am willing to write this off as a bad day/weekfor you, if you simply reverse the credit card charge, despite the hours wasted and stress you crated for us. If you think on review your service was adequate, I will happily debate you on that topic in a more public place.

The emphasis is mine. First let me say, we dropped the ball and we take full responsibility. The setup took longer than it should, and when it finished file permissions were wonky, and to top it off our our management system would not authorize the client. A grade A clusterfuck for sure. We fixed it up though, over a few days and 3 tickets. Not our best moment, but we took care of them.

If this customer had stopped writing before that last sentence I emphasized. I swear before you I would have polished his ass with my own lips in heartfelt apology and humility. And there would not be a story here.

Instead they got this response from me. We of course take responsibility for the problem and issue a full refund, but they also got a heavy dose of snark:

I looked back at the tickets from [REDACTED] and you are correct, we did drop the ball on getting things taken care of in a timely fashion. We’ll happily terminate the account and refund the payment. We stand by our product and our service, and if we don’t come through on that promise it is our fault.

I would like to also add that your threats of taking things public are not the best way to achieve you end goal. Perhaps you were burnt in the past, and some evil company maybe got the better of you and stole your lunch money. So you may had called them and had to wait on hold for 3 hours and missed your soccer game or something. And you may have sworn, right then: “this will never happen to me again, so I am going to flex my muscle next time and use this thing called the internets to have my revenge. I can use twitter and facebook, and I will say bad things.. and that will teach those mean people to mess with me” On that day you may have decided to reclaim your honor, and you might have taken your @aol email address out into the wild of the internets, head held high, just waiting for the day someone was even going to even think about messing with you.

But truth be told, you had a bad experience at page.ly, and we feel bad about it. Cause you know, we are people too. And we dont like feeling like we got taken advantage of so we try every day to deliver the best product and customer support we can, and if we fail we are wise enough to own up to those mistakes and try to make it right, regardless if the customer on the other end threatens some lame bullshit about telling their social graph they were unhappy.

Thank you for giving us a try, I am sorry it did not work out.
I will cancel the account and refund the payment immediately.

NOT my finest work, but this is how we deal with bullies at page.ly. Every once in a while we get the tough guy that for whatever reason (right or wrong) is ready to start a social media flame war over some real or imagined transgression. That’s really what they or anyone else is doing when they pull the “I’ll take this to twitter” card, they are being bullies. Alec Baldwin lost his shit when a flight attendant made him comply with federal regulations, for some reason he was above the law made a PR nitemare for the airline. Real nice Alec.

So how do you deal with this in your own business?

 

HE-MAN

December 29, 2011 — Leave a comment

This IS amazing. Hat tip @joestump

10,000 lbs brass balls

July 13, 2011 — 1 Comment

This is some man size racing.  Wait for the guys face in the last shot.

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Overheard

June 1, 2011 — Leave a comment

it’s typical uninspired bubble bullshit from the SF echo chamber.. the good news is mindless valley leadership icons like Dave McClure, Loic and Scoble will masturbate to it being the next flipbook and they will raise a Series A.  Tell them party like a rockstar and live it up, spend every dime because the rides gonna be short and the fall is gonna hurt like a mutha fucker.

 

Two years ago (thereabouts) I created a bot on twitter. @IAM_SHAKESPEARE has tweeted nearly 91,000 lines of the Bard’s work and is about 80% thru the 112,000 lines. (read the orignal post)

At first I thought it would just be a fun gag and no one would care. Some 16,000 followers later, and thousands of hilarious RT’s, scrolling through the mentions and RT’s every few days is a sure laugh.

It’s pure comedy to see people add their own one liners and take Willy out of context.
A few recent choice examples:

Clearly Willy’s words are universal.

So Willy will be done by the end the summer, and I asked his followers if he should start over.. Survey says yes. So look forward to Willy starting fresh with the Sonnets and Macbeth (I think was one of his first plays) this Fall.

At first it was a gag, then it got interesting as people took notice.. now I almost see it as a civic duty to add a little culture to the often times inane and shallow conversation on twitter.

Please continue to enjoy. Willy is here for the duration.

What does it take to get a verified account on twitter now-a-days? You should all harass twitter inc. and tell them to make @IAM_SHAKESPEARE a verified account. hehe. Enjoy – @strebel.

Certain customer types cost way more to support than others.

Let me tell you a story perhaps you have heard before.

Customer A is a big shot tech company everyone has heard of. They need our WordPress hosting as they are tired of running that lone LAMP stack on one of their 150 AWS instances for their Ruby SaaS app. They spend 10′s of thousands of month on infrastructure and the few hundred dollars paid to us to look after their lone PHP app is part of doing business.

Customer B is small marketing consultant. No less awesome then Customer A as they too trust us to look after their WordPress site for but for only $20/mo. They are in business to make money as well and rely on their website for lead gen and marketing.

Customer A and Customer B enjoy the same amount of uptime and support response times, and besides the amount of resources they use, a few plan enhancements, and price they could very well be the same person.

When an issue occurs, say an unplanned reset of on our nodes that results in a few minutes of downtime the difference in the two customer types becomes obvious.

Downtime SUCKS ASS. Any issue that is out of norm SUCKS ASS. We know it sucks, they know it sucks.. there is no hiding the fact it sucks. Regardless of which customer type, we treat them the same when it comes to remedying issues.

Half the time customer A does not even notice a blip, and when they do they generate a support ticket in the tone of “FYI our site is down”. Customer B on the other hand always notices every hiccup, and generates multiple support tickets in the tone of “OMG the sky is falling, WTF my business is ruined!!! You guys suck so bad!”

Now the $25,000 question.
What’s the difference between Customer A and B? I have my guesses, but you tell me your thoughts.

Big brother Jobs got you down?

Solution: Use a gen1 iPhone.  Like me.

Teach you hipsters.. don’t you know the new ironic thing is to not have the latest must-have gadget?

Edge FTW!