Hello everyone. I’ve been lurking these forums since the early days and have finally decided to chime in. I’d like to tell you a story, so warm a glass of cocoa, gather your family, and snuggle up in a blanket.
A revolutionary product that seemed very promising had been announced, and I was ecstatic to take part. A forum with a small, but passionate group of early adopters was set up. At the beginning, everyone talked about the promise of this new product, and how it would change everything. People who had received their product early on were enthusiastic, and a couple of evangelists made fan blogs where they talked about their experience with the product and how awesome it was.
As the months went by, the poor management of this new startup became evident. They had a great idea, but lacked the forethought or experience to properly market and release it. The product itself was amazing (of course, not without having minor issues and hiccups), but because of the poor execution, the forums eventually became an area where everyone started to complain.
Without knowing how to market such a “different” product, many news articles were contrarian, stating that the product could never work, at least not on a mass market scale. The people that understood it best was the small passionate community of supporters, while the public as a whole would ridicule and joke about it.
Almost a year later, and the company changed from releasing regular updates to the nearly silent trickle of information. This happened because they always seemed to fall short of their promises. “The product is going to reach this milestone!” they said. But alas, it would not play out.
The company realized that with every failed milestone, the forums would become more and more toxic. It became an echo chamber of argument about how the company was poorly managed, and how they wouldn’t have had those problems if they handled things in another manner.
What had once been a promising community of discussion of how the product would change the future eventually became filled with embedded youtube reaction videos, and meme images. Moderators had the onerous task of herding the forum full of (lol)cats to keep the discussion civil, but eventually this resulted in overzealous deletion of critical, mean spirited posts.
As the company became silent, wishing not to anger the community with failed promises, the forums shifted towards nonstop speculation. “Maybe they’re going to show us with their actions instead of more failed promises!” Nope. Now, the company continued to steer along the same path, but no longer offered any insight as to why they were making these decisions.
Eventually, the company’s CEO finally declared one day that it would be no more. Employees revealed that the company had failed to be acquired by several bigger companies, which would have kept it afloat. Instead, competitors realized that they could just release a similar product without having to acquire the smaller company.
But all was not lost! The company had been purchased by an investor. Instead of it being shut down completely, the investor thought that the corpse could still live on under the same name.
The company’s name was OnLive (now onlive).
I see striking parallels with Soylent and this community. I thought I would just wait it out and not order any Solyent, because I had a feeling I would be disappointed in the same exact way. But instead, I fell into the trap of being an early adopter yet again. I managed to hold out until close to a month ago, when I preordered a monthly subscription.
I hope that things will turn out differently, because this is another product that I think is very cool. But the company’s similar direction in terms of poor, inexperienced leadership and a product that is not marketed or released in a solid manner make me very worried.
Thank you for reading my book. I will now retreat into my introverted corner. My only suggestion is for this community to not devolve into chaos, and for the moderators not to overaggressively hinder discussion while still steering it from the brink.