dave on the bubble burst

Dave has an interesting piece on the web 2.0 bubble bursting and how to determine that since for the most part these companies are not public. His theory is that when the Google stock bursts that’s how we’ll know.

It’s an interesting theory, but I think his analysis is off. First, how many web 2.0 sites are there really? Let’s say it’s 10,000 which seems too high but that’s fine. Google has it’s ads on millions of sites. Second, Google is already a profitable company which is something the web 1.0 public companies never were. That’s a huge difference. It makes it extremely unlikely that you’ll have an instant collapse like 1.0.

Unlike 1.0 not only is Google profitable, but it’s growing at a very high rate. Wall st. loves stocks that have a high growth rate and as long as that continues the stock will continue to climb. Web 2.0 sites have very little effect on the overall volume of search traffic at Google which is still where the vast majority of growth and revenue come from.


I never cease to be amazed at the way us entrepreneurs will find ways to avoid doing the work we need to do by doing the work we want to believe must be done. I was poking around some mailing lists today and noticed people talking about a PitchCamp. Now I have no idea why I haven’t heard of this before. It’s apparently a group of people getting together and practicing their pitches and pitching…….

This could be the worst idea I’ve ever heard. First off if you’re practicing your pitch you’re not working on your products and if you’re practicing your pitches before you even have a product (the impression I got from my reading) well then I find it highly unlikely you’ll ever have a product.

Great pitches make themselves. Go out there and do the work. Then when you need to pitch a VC or potential buyer you can say, “Hey, I took a 5K investment off my credit card and turned it into a product that has annual revenues of 300K”. How about that for a pitch! Instead of my ajax widget does your laundry and dries your back hair, well if I get your money it will.

Oh and while I’m ranting, how dumb are these stinking VC’s? Lately I’ve gotten more calls from VC flunkies and I’m amazed at their complete lack of research. They almost all make the same mistake with HelpSpot assuming it’s hosted. So they start asking me questions about SaaS and I correct them and ask them why they didn’t look at the website for a second instead of assuming every product on a web 2.0 list is hosted. Then I hang up.

I realize these arn’t the “real” VC’s at these firms. They usually sound like MBA interns, but come on. These guys are out there cold calling and ruinng your good (average?) name by making you sound like complete idiots incapable of reading a simple web page.

open source help desk list update

So on October 4th I launched the mini site Open Source Help Desk List as an experiment to see if a one page site could be both a useful resource and an effective sales tool. So far I think it’s working! The site gets decent traffic already and I’ve had several emails thanking me for providing the resource. At the same time, the site has generated sales of over $2,800. Not bad for a total cost of $50 (5 year domain name) and a few days of work.

I don’t necessarily think it will generate $3K in sales every month and a half, but I do think it can lead to some significant sales over the year. This has definitely inspired me to look around a bit more and see what other mini sites may make sense to create.

textmate still no bbedit

Erik beats me to a post I was about to write. A few weeks back I tried TextMate again. I guess I still don’t get it. Why do people like it? The two biggest features of a text editor are completely useless.

  1. The undo. As Erik mentions it only undoes each character one at a time. I thought maybe I was going crazy or there was some pref for this, but no. It literally removes one character at a time. It’s totally insane. BBEdit’s undo is so smart it almost reads my mind.

  2. Search. The search and/or replace of TextMate is unusable. It takes forever to actually do the search on any serious size project and it also locks the UI for TextMate up until it’s complete. BBEdit’s search and replace is super fast, allows you to continue while you work. It also allows you to keep an unlimited number of search results up and open, whereas TextMate only allows one open. Search for something else and the first is gone. It also doesn’t provide a preview pane of the search results.

I don’t see how you can use TextMate with these two functions so crippled. Otherwise it’s OK but I can’t believe they haven’t fixed these features which are so critical to any editor.

userscapecom v2

I’ve just stared working with the mighty Mike Rohde again on version 2 of the UserScape site. As long time readers know Mike also did the first design of the site as well as the UserScape and HelpSpot logo’s. I thought it might be interesting to share some of the design process with you as we go along. The other day Mike sent over his very first sketch which I’m posting below. Mike’s technique is great and I love working on designs with him in this fashion. The sketches just make it so easy to focus on layout.

It will be interesting to see how the final version compares with this first sketch. BTW I encourage anyone looking for a designer to drop Mike a note, just don’t do it for the next month or so because I have way too much for him to work on and don’t want him distracted 🙂


why you should never ever keep your new product a secret

UserScape’s second product is currently in the planning stage and I can hardly wait to tell you all about it! Not only because I respect and appreciate your opinions and feedback, but because it makes the best business sense to do so. So many entrepreneurs seem caught up in the idea that they must spring their new products on the world as a surprise. This is a terrible idea. All it accomplishes is putting your marketing back six months to a year.

It’s critical to get your product out there so people can start talking about it and most importantly they can start linking to it. Most major search engines age their links and they value older links more than new ones. Getting your product early mentions is key to starting out with a decent search rank. As a side note, this is also why your temporary product page should be at the final URL you’ll actually use for the product.

The other big side benefit of an early announcement is that you can build an email list of people who are interested in beta testing the product. A strong beta test is essential and there’s simply no way to acquire enough interested people without announcing exactly what your product will be and starting to generate buzz about it.

So stay tuned, once development starts in earnest I’ll be posting about the new product.

dropsend sale

The relatively well known service DropSend is putting itself up for sale so that it’s founders can focus on their newsletter ad service. The sale notice is a bit odd in that they go out of their way to say it only takes a few minutes a day to maintain. That begs the question of why you would sell a profitable and growing business (according to them), which requires such little upkeep. Surely you could use that income while the new service gets up and running.

It sounds like lots of folks are interested in acquiring it. My take on it is that the business may be growing and profitable, but perhaps they understand a bit more about the industry than their potential suitors. For instance, they may think the large file service business will be going away in the near future due to increased capacities of gmail/aol etc. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

switching up my dev environment

After 2 years on my existing development setup I’ve decided it’s time for a change. When I first started working on HelpSpot I moved from a PowerBook to a G5 tower. That worked out well because I really wanted to stay planted at my desk and during the first year of development that structure was extremely important. Now though I’d like a bit more freedom to work from remote locations and just general flexibility.

The new MacBook Pro’s have been calling to me since they were announced but buying a v1 of a laptop just seems like a bad idea, plus there would be too much of a performance drop off from my current setup (dual g5/4gb ram). With the release of the core 2 duo’s though I could no longer resist. My nice new MB Pro just showed up this morning. With the dual core and 3gb of ram the drop off from my desktop shouldn’t be too bad at all and the ability to run Windows is going to be fantastic. I can now get rid of the Windows machine I have for testing. I also purchased a 23″ Cinema display to use when I’m still in desk mode.

I’ll be posting the links up to the stuff I’m ebaying in a few weeks if you’re in the market. The delay is because I’ve decided not to setup the new equipment until I get HelpSpot 1.5 out the door. It’s very close now and I don’t want to go disrupting things. We’ll see if I can hold out!

userscape expands

I’m happy to announce that my wife Jamie will be joining UserScape full time! In reality she’s always been a core part of the business as my go to person for new ideas, but thanks to the great success we’ve had with HelpSpot over the past year it’s become possible for her to be a full time member. I’m blessed to have a wife who’s extremely smart and is actually a great fit for the company even if she wasn’t my wife. For the past 6 years she’s had several jobs in management covering web development, web based customer service, interaction design and more recently product marketing and development.

These are skills UserScape is in vital need of as we move from MicroISV to enterprise :-). She’s been on the job for a week already and her insight and tenacity are already paying off. She’ll be focusing on growing the HelpSpot customer base and reaching larger organizations and institutions as well as other general business needs like customer support and testing. Her supervisory experience will also be a huge help as we continue to expand our product offerings and staff in the future.

Please join me in welcoming Jamie to the team!