[iDC] Will you delete your Feedburner account?

Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten boris at fleck.com
Sun Jun 10 09:24:22 EDT 2007

>  Users also invest.
I would say that users get to use a service for free or little money.  
The fact that it is cheap also means that things might change. People  
generally understand that. When Flickr was sold lots of people  
revolted. Except they didn't. It was just a few user making a lot of  
noise. Others just silently moved their accounts to Yahoo and enjoyed  
their free service. You say 'Invested' I say 'Profited'.
> then user satisfaction drops after the acquisitation and the herds  
> move on.
There is a simple rule in business: if you screw your customer he  
will leave.

Everybody knows this expect people who seem to be afraid of being  
screwed. If Google starts screwing with Feedburner the users will  
complain. Entrepreneurs, like me, will pick up on these complaints  
and start a new Feedburner service, for free. Users will swith from  
Google to FeedBoris and when the time comes I will sell FeedBoris to  

But that is just theory. Google isn't in the business of screwing its  
users because that wouldn't be a smart way of doing business. The  
smart way to do business is making your users happy.
> They are, in the end, not bees, no matter how hard the corporate  
> consultancy gurus, from Kelly to Surowiecki, are
> trying to portray users like that.
I think we agree on that. Users are more like cats: sensitive,  
arrogant and always looking for attention. If you kick them they  
leave and won't come back. If you pet them they will stay but in the  
end THEY make that choice.
> You write: "It is just one of three possible exits for a
> start-up: bankruptcy, IPO or acquisition." That's of course nonsense.
> How did all the big IT players like Yahoo, Microsoft and Google come
> into being?
MSFT, YHOO and GOOG you mean?
> "Craigslist is simply the exception that confirms the rule*." Then  
> make Craigslist the
> rule. No that would be a massive change, no? Enterpreneurs always  
> claim
> that are working on 'change'. Then why not change this rule?
Changing the rules is easy. Changing Entrepreneurs is easy too:  
simply change the customer and the entrepreneur will follow. That is  
what Entrepreneurs do: satisfy customer demand. Can you change  
customer demand?

I'll tel you another story: printing is a difficult business. Lots of  
competition in a steadily declining market. If you as a customer want  
to print a book and ask 10 printing companies to give you a price the  
most expensive one will cost you more than 3 times as much as the  
cheapest one. Guess which printer the customer chooses.

So how does this work? Let me explain: There are always printing  
companies who just start and try to take over the market by doing  
work with little or no margin. They don't last long, maybe 2 years  
and then they go bankrupt. The more expensive ones have been around  
for decades and know that you have to charge more. Most of the  
customers don't care at all about those businesses, they just want to  
get the cheapest deal. And this is one of the important factors for  
that whole declining industry.

The same goes for online services. Do you want to charge a reasonable  
amount of money? You will be rssvp.com without many clients or a  
reasonable contribution to the economy. Or you can be Feedburner.com  
with thousands of happy clients who take for granted that the Terms  
and Conditions change now and then and that the name of their service  
my change from Feedburner to GoogleBurner one day.

Conclusion: what we are doing here is debating the rules of the game.  
And that is great. Rules should be challenged, broken en revised all  
the time. My idea is that you don't need extra rules (not less  
either, don't get me wrong) to protect the customer. They don't want  
it and they don't need it. They have the biggest stick to hit any  
business with: They can simply choose not to be a customer anymore.

This is something that every business-owner, small or big, fears the  

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