March 15th, 2015


Marketing leverage to stick in my back pocket

[Apologies to my friends at Google, but this has been nibbling at the back of my mind for a long time.]

One of the real concerns for Querki, pretty much since the beginning, is the question, "But what do you do when Google decides to compete with you?" I mean, my company is about data -- it seems likely that if I succeed, Google will, in some fashion, try to compete. And the obvious assumption is that Google would squish me -- this is, after all, why I quietly shut down the CommYou project when Wave came out, since I wasn't prepared to take on Goliath.

And the thing is, by now I have a clear rebuttal to that: Google competes with *everybody* -- casually, with no long-term vision, and eventually drops most of those projects on the floor along with the user data. This is why I've been furious with Google for years: after I shut down CommYou in the face of Wave, they then proceeded to kill Wave off a year later, instead of fixing the idiotic design mistakes they'd made that made Wave so hard to use. And they keep doing this, over and over again -- today's version is the announcement on Friday that they are killing off Google Code. Once again, they came up with a product to compete in the marketplace, never took it seriously enough, and eventually decided that they weren't sufficiently interested.

(Really, the degree to which Google behaves like a bright nerd with ADHD is sometimes disturbing.)

I have no idea how to turn this into a marketing message, but it's something I'm sticking in the back of my head. Querki *exists* for the purpose of this project. Frankly, I have quite deliberately rebuilt all my own personal data around Querki -- everything from my shopping list to the Period Games Homepage -- so that I can say with a straight face that I am invested to my eyeballs in the success of this project, not just on a business level but in the degree to which I *personally* need to keep this up and running and useful. Google's never going to do that: as far as I can tell, there is no project (aside, of course, for search) that Google institutionally *cares* about, even its much-ballyhooed front-and-center projects like Wave and Google+. (Which is also, according to every rumor, getting gradually dismantled.)

It's not a complete marketing message in and of itself, but it's a start. And it's one of the reasons why I am leery of taking too much outside money, and putting the company in debt like most startups. I'd rather build a slightly more modest business slightly more slowly, that is running in the black as early as possible, so that I can quite honestly say that Querki is sustainable and stable in the long run, so it's a safe place to put your data -- and that Google's track record basically says that it isn't...