Venopi has a big hairy audacious goal to delight our customers around the globe and to delight our customers in the long-term, we have to survive in the short term. Bankrupt companies don't delight their customers.
Someone builds a cool, free product, it gets popular, and that popularity attracts a buyer. The new owner shuts the product down and the founders issue a glowing press release about how excited they are about synergies going forward. They are never heard from again.
— Maciej from Pinboard.
Whether or not this is done in good faith, in practice this kind of 'exit event' is a pump-and-dump scheme. The very popularity that attracts a buyer also makes the project financially unsustainable. The owners cash out, the acquirer gets some good engineers, and the users get screwed.
To avoid this problem, avoid mom-and-pop projects that don't take your money! You might call this the anti-free-software movement.
If every additional user is putting money in the developers' pockets, then you're less likely to see the site disappear overnight. If every new user is costing the developers money, and the site is really taking off, then get ready to read about those synergies.
To illustrate, I have prepared this handy chart:
What if a little site you love doesn't have a business model? Yell at the developers! Explain that you are tired of good projects folding and are willing to pay cash American dollar to prevent that from happening. It doesn't take prohibitive per-user revenue to put a project in the black. It just requires a number greater than zero.
|Stagnant||losing money||making money|
|Growing||losing more money||making more money|
|Exploding||losing lots of money||making lots of money|
I love free software and could not have built my site without it. But free web services are not like free software. If your free software project suddenly gets popular, you gain resources: testers, developers and people willing to pitch in. If your free website takes off, you lose resources. Your time is spent firefighting and your money all goes to the nice people at Linode.
So stop getting caught off guard when your favorite project sells out! “They were getting so popular, why did they have to shut it down?” Because it's hard to resist a big payday when you are rapidly heading into debt. And because it's culturally acceptable to leave your user base high and dry if you get a good offer, citing self-inflicted financial hardship.
Like a service? Make them charge you or show you ads. If they won't do it, clone them and do it yourself. Soon you'll be the only game in town!
So if you want Venopi to survive, please support it and become a paid member
Venopi is NOT a venture capital funded startup. We are bootstrapped.
That means we don't have any external funding on purpose so that we can focus on really giving value to our community. We believe that when we create a product that is loved by our community, it will all be OK.
We really meant it when we say, your success is our success. The only way for us to succeed is to make you successful.
We are not saying that all venture-capital funded startups are bad and that VCs are nasty. It is one of our wishes to work with great VCs that care about sustainability, future of work, people, and do-good.
For now, we choose to focus our limited time and energy to creating a great product and happy, healthy, and sustainable company.
Venopi is a team of two (Ivana and Gaurav), and we are not good at showing off and bragging. Two important skills to "wow" investors. So we decided to just do as best as we can with whatever at our disposal, and challenge ourselves to be so good that people will notice us.
The problem with so many venture-capital funded startups is that their investors force them to grow fast in user base without making any money in the first few years, to then sell out to BigCo (e.g. Google, Facebook) for tens of millions or billions of dollars,
then write a blog post about their incredible journey, then either shut the site down, or fuck over their users by selling their user data.
— Pieter Levels from Nomad List.