Jamie's Blog

Lessons from a life of startups, coding, countryside, and kids

Who needs a business model? We, the users, do!

I was a little surprised at the unceremoneous death of ‘I Want Sandy’ and ‘Stikkit’ last week. Twitter bought the parent company so that they could get the founder to work for them but this left the actual sites themselves abandoned. Since both were free sites there was no business model, no income, no incentive to keep them running or sell the companies on as a going concern.

Today I hear that Pownce, a Twitter competitior/clone, has been aquired by Six Apart and that it will shutdown in 2 weeks time. Again, there was no business model but there’d certainly have been plenty of opportunity to explore one before Twitter got their act together (and it seems easier for the underdog to explore their options).  Still, now Pownce is gone too just so Six Apart could get their staff and/or intellectual property.

It seems that these sites might have survived if they’d actually been charging their users which, ironically, would actualy have been good for the users.  ‘I Want Sandy’, in particular, had a very active and enthusiastic user community who are almost begging to pay money for the service.

Perhaps a replacement service will emerge but it seems that we should all be wary of placing our effort/data/friends/business in a site that has absolutely no business model — it’s just too easy for the business to close and be abandoned.  It’s much harder to abandon a profitable webapp.

Essentially: If you’re not paying for it today, don’t expect it be here tomorrow.