Last week of the quarter, half and fiscal year for Vlad Media, Inc aka Vladville.com. Time for a look back:
Financially, vladville.com (the Google ads) made more money than two average crackheads working the McDonalds drivethrough. I don’t want to gloat but I am sure University of Florida would proudly display my 25% income bracket I make as a professional writer. And a terrible, terrible insult comic. 🙂 Florida alums get paid!
Last years agenda was to talk more about business development and maturity, simply because this blog is nothing if not the venting grounds for things that piss me off during the day and I have nobody I can talk to. Karl meditates. Dave drinks. I blog.
What a terrible time to pick to talk about business, right as the confidence in financial markets tanks, financial mismanagement / theft / fraud runs rampant by everyone from the bank teller stealing the bank pens to Bush and Obama, people lose their jobs and the iconic businesses that built this great country simply go under over the weekend.
As bad as it was, if you were smart, this was probably the best time you’ve had in business. It’s certainly the story at ExchangeDefender and Own Web Now. Yes, we had several lines of business get massacred, but the new lines of business propelled us to the highest financial records in the history of the company. I have heard the same from many of you reading this blog, good job!
Looking back, for many this was a trying time. Time to prove you’ve got your s$#% together. Nowhere was this more true than in the ExchangeDefender world – nearly all the partners that didn’t go out of business actually grew in the same space!
The Vapor, The Cloud, The NBT
Last year we announced “Lucy’s Sail” which included series of projects we launched to help partners compete with Microsoft and Google’s assault onto the SMB channel. At the same time I became The Public Enemy #1 for saying that we won’t sell SBS 2008 and a year later OWN has not sold a single seat. I can tell you from talks with many of our partners that even those that had high hopes for SBS didn’t fare much better. It’s just a sign of the times, technology is no longer seen as an investment or expertise and with so many tech layoffs a career in technology has never been more uncertain.
This is a debate that will go on until the last CIS graduate, last VAR, last MSP and computer repair shop left standing. Personally, if I had some great future insight I’d probably be selling research reports. As I said to someone today, I’d rather be dead wrong and paid than be right and broke. It is one of my bigger disappointments among my colleagues and peers, the incessant need to debate the future while ignoring what’s going on today. Today is when people are ready to cut the check, take the money. Until Vegas starts booking odds on the survival of a given computing technology I’ll just keep on growing the company in the direction of people waving their cash at me. Slimy Vendor Whoring at it’s finest.
So… What do you do?
Oh has this changed in the last 12 months or what? I used to get two answers in the past: 1) I write software or 2) I keep it running. You were either a developer or in charge of IT. But as the basics of computing got simpler (iPhone, Mac) and more affordable (as in free: Google, Facebook, Gmail, Netbooks) we’ve seen the premium and respect for technology skills plummet.
These days I talk to people who are anything but the two noted above. Even some of my dearest friends that have worked with me for over a decade have radically changed and diversified their technology service. To be fair (many, many, many) many others have also closed shop for good in the face of financial climate and technical obsoletion.
Tough year for Microsoft. Much tougher than I ever thought it would ever be. Microsoft is still the company that I have always looked up to and likely always will – but man this year hurt in so many ways. Too many to even discuss but I’ve certainly covered them through the year.
One thing I did not see coming is the iPhone domination. Even with the full Blackberry recovery, iPhone just pwned Microsoft in every possible way. They also brought their friends in Google and Facebook and once it became apparent that a computer network can run stuff not made by Microsoft the doors were blown wide open. Almost in spite of all the money Microsoft spent on marketing, it’s competitors are just out-innovating them.
Then the layoffs. Ooof.
The Year Ahead
About the only nice thing you can say about this economic cycle is that it has washed out a lot of pretenders and humbled a lot of business owners to consider the fundamentals: What does the client want?
Therein we find the first great challenge for the new year: Pricing pressure. Nobody is buying. And when nobody is buying, it’s haggling time. The price for IT should drop a lot (a lot more than it already has) but we’ll make more because we’ll have more clients and higher level work commands a higher pay. We are experimenting with some marketing ideas now but suffice to say it will be the #1 thing going forward.
C-c-c-changes. Yes, virus filtering will always be necessary, but it’s heck of a lot easier to stay protected than it used to be. Apply this to virtually everything you know: All the services you provide now will still be necessary and in demand: you just won’t be able to make a living doing it. Doubt that? See thousands of people who thought they could do what they were doing before, now firmly engaged in the sales roles offering 2 apple pies for $1 with your happy meal.
Tighter circle. As my buddy Karl just wrote, get ready to compete with everyone. When the #1 thing becomes your marketing effort and not your technical skill (because you technical skill can be replaced by the 1st or 2nd result in Google) then a lot of the technology peer corrodery tends to go up in flames. Good news is, organizations like ExchangeDefender/OWN, MSPU, SMB Books and so on are still channel champions and will pay to get people together. But trust a peer for impartial advice? Don’t leave your house without your Amex.
At the end of the day, all we’ve got is our money and our relationships. The world is changing and the money is out there for those willing to work hard enough to take it. As always, thanks for reading this blog and sending your opinions to email@example.com.