Update on the NDA items

Beta, IT Culture
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Several people have followed up with me directly about the progress of the betas and other NDA software and solutions discussed at the few NDA webinars I held last quarter. Here is the official unofficial statement on those and just the statement of the obvious in case I may have mislead some with my optimism.

We have several huge pieces of software coming out over the next year.

Some of it will step on the toes of our vendors, sponsors or competitors in the marketplace. For obvious reasons we aren’t going to talk about these out loud until they are ready and we’ve got our partners ready to rock and roll.

That said..

First, this is a business and in business we’re going to go after the people that have the largest accounts with us even if they aren’t the most ideal test case scenario. If they are volunteering their time and paying us a ton of money, I will not tell them they aren’t good enough to play with my broken software.

Second, loyalty matters. I know many people are all about “right tool for the right job” and to that I say “I’ll get right back to you”; It’s no secret that no matter what the scenario (business or personal) you take care of your friends. So when I have people who are my undying supporters that sell and push me harder than I even do myself – yeah, they go way way ahead of the Microsoft and Postini fans. While I’m sure it’s in our better business interest to pursue our competitors clients and offer them exclusive stuff if they were to switch their antispam or hosting stuff to us.. I have a shitload of money but I don’t have a shitload of friends – so my friends come first.

Finally, we have limited resources and I’m tired of shipping crap. We don’t get second chances anymore. The stuff that we put out there has to be pretty much perfect and our partners are just as busy as we are with even fewer resources. We can’t afford to drag these tests out for years – so the way it works (and some of you have figured this out working with Chelsea) is as follows:

1. Vlad’s VIP list. Call them in sequence.

2. High rollers. Call them from top to bottom.

3. Everyone else. Call from top to bottom in order of MRR.

In most cases, we don’t even make it down the VIP list. These are typically the people that have been working with us forever and I trust their opinion. When we do – Chelsea calls down – if you don’t answer the phone that we have on the record your entry goes to the bottom of the list. This is why most people never end up on the beta. For what it’s worth – I understand, I am typically too busy to answer phone calls too – but those are the breaks. We’re essentially begging people for help here and whoever has a time and is willing gets a hit.

It’s a two way street

Being on a beta is not necessarily a huge benefit to the organization nor is it a critical piece to how you run your business. I think that way more than 99% of our clients do not participate in our beta (assuming that the crap we actually put out is called “release”) process.

The advantage is in hearing me talk about what the solution does and hearing all the other background behind it so you can better formulate your business plan. For example, what if you knew that there was a significant part of your service provider infrastructure coming for free if you’re my partner? Would it twist the way you market and position your product when you can do so on someone elses dime? Sure. Would it be any less valuable 6 months later? Probably not. But it sure would be more convenient knowing about it ahead of time.

That’s all I’m saying! Smile