I think that’s where the point is lost. There’s plenty of us on here that understand the logistics nightmare that is unfolding right in front of the Soylent team. The problem isn’t that we don’t understand, it’s the over-promising timelines and under-delivering nature of the last few official posts from the crew. When you raise the expectations and excitement of your customer base, they fall even harder when said plans don’t actually happen multiple times. As I said before, we get that it isn’t a walk in the park to orchestrate this clusterfuck, but I do think people have the right to be a little miffed just from the single fact that promises continue to be made and not followed through with.
Not asking for infallibility. Just asking for communication. However, given that there IS no communication, and that they HAVE been wrong time after time after time after time, I think a healthy level of dissent among the community is necessary to put across the message of “hey, this is getting unacceptable. you have had months worth of our food money for almost a year and have not delivered- please take that seriously.”
I’m not calling people to grab their pitchforks. That’s why the distinction of company/individual is so important: we need to send a strong message of our disapproval to the company, but it would be messed up to call out an individual.
But really, 1 year ago we give our money to a startup on the promises that we’d have a product in ~4 months. We have literally nothing to show for it. And a topic pops up in the forums titled “We Love U Soylent Team!”. That’s stockholm syndrome.
Personally I really don’t see it that way. We took a chance at investing in an unproven startup because we liked the idea. And if they pulled it off and actually got to the stage of producing product without some catastrophic failure, we would get a certain amount in exchange for our investment.
Yeah we were eagerly awaiting it too, and yeah we were slightly crushed every time there was another delay. But that happens with initial phase startups. And so we waited.
I did a 1 month preorder. Was a bit of a risk since with how I am about food and especially new things, I could easily have wanted nothing to do with it once it came… but the little voice in my head said this was gonna be a winner so I took the plunge. Now of course I’m wishing I’d done more!
However, given that there IS no communication, and that they HAVE been wrong time after time after time after time
That is the issue. If they say nothing, everyone grabs pitchforks. If they say something and its wrong, everyone grabs pitchforks. If they say something overly pessimistic, everyone will grab pitchforks over the news. If they say something vague, people will grab pitchforks over the imprecision.
This is the exact same pattern I have seen over and over with successful crowd-funded endeavors. It will take far longer to pull off than they anticipated early on, and there is absolutely no way to make people happy while there are delays.
It’s annoying, but I’ve been through this before with Pebble. There are three reasons for the delays, all of them pretty understandable:
- Crowdfunding campaigns that beat expectations by orders of magnitude, requiring them to ramp up to a larger scale of production than they had been expecting, right from the get-go.
- Trying to use their newfound resources to make the best product they can on the very first try. They can’t disappoint any of their many, many initial backers, so all the iteration has to happen before they ship anything at all.
- Creating a company from scratch. This is related to #1–what was a blog post a year ago is now a real business with a huge consumer base, but the people running it are the same, with only a year of hard-won experience getting this done. This mostly comes into account in how they deal with the delays… Soylent has tried to give realistic dates, and missed a lot; Pebble saw right up front that there was too much volatility to give accurate predictions, and they refused outright to give hard dates. Unfortunately I don’t think it helped… both teams seem to have gotten about the same amount of flak, from what I can see.
Yes, part of the reason I forgive these failings is because they are understandable–that doesn’t have to be good enough for you. But part of the reason is that these initial hurdles, and the way they are visibly dealing with them, will lead to a better product. They want to get it right, and they’re doing the best they can towards that end–not to take the money and run, not to satisfy the most vocally eager customers as soon as possible, but to make the best Soylent they can make. And if you need any help dealing with impatience, maybe this will help: when, after a long year of impatience and delays, I finally received my Pebble, it was everything my overhyped imagination had hoped for. I’ll wait and see on Soylent… but the first reports give me hope.
Yeah. I agree. It’s just frustrating.
I disagree. If they came out with “Hey everyone, we’re sorry that we won’t be able to start shipping at the intended throughput for at least another month. Here’s the details why: …”, I think it would be met with a greater degree of understanding (similar to how they handled the delay due to the rice shortage or whatever). Surely, there will be people who are upset at this news, but it plays to the benefit of those who would prefer to be honestly informed over those who would rather be falsely reassured.
I’m not saying “Running a business is easy! The soylent team is incompetent! What fools for messing up so much!”. I’m saying “Hey! You guys are running a business, and as such will probably run into difficult decisions. I, as a paying customer, would like to vocalize that I’d prefer you err on the side of more communication, as ‘not communicating’ is just as bad (if not worse) a move as any of the other difficult ones”. I’m not going to sit silently with a smile on my face because “wouldn’t it be great if everyone was just happy with whatever they decide to do”. And again, I’m not calling for any action more severe than “let’s all voice the fact that we’re displeased”.
I don’t want to come off as they whiny guy who won’t chill out and is refusing to empathize with a difficult situation. But I don’t think I’m being irrational here in thinking that, given the circumstances, a forum post dedicated to praising this company is a bit ridiculous.
That’s the thing though… assuming you got in on the kickstarter campaign, you aren’t a “customer” yet, you’re an “investor”. And investors take on all sorts of risks customers don’t.
At least that’s certainly how I believe it to be.
In my experience, no, it wouldn’t. You just have a different set of people complaining, and if something else goes wrong, yet another group will complain about being lied to yet again. You prefer to be told something, anything, as long as you are informed, other people are livid if they are told something which does not hold up as true for all eternity.
You aren’t investors either, investors have an investment in the company, they will see profits from it if it does well,etc. We are backers. We have backed their product with what amounts to a preorder. It is higher risk than a customer, but it does not have the same entitlement that an investor gets.
I am absolutely a customer, by any sense of the term. If they took the money and failed to deliver, there would be lawsuits. There’s no sense arguing semantics.
The things we were told were not told with the tone of “hey, we’re going to do our best to make these things true, but there are a lot of variables and we can’t know for sure”. It was instead said with the tone “Here’s what we’re going to do, and assuming things go wrong we’ll get this stuff to you by x date”.
You’re right that there’s nothing they can do to make everyone happy. But that’s true for literally everyone doing anything on this planet. But catering to the rational (being as honest as possible, communicating, etc…) is the “right” thing to do.
But catering to the rational (being as honest as possible, communicating, etc…) is the “right” thing to do.
Too bad rational people are the minority.
They tried being open and honest, and it didn’t work for them. Can you really blame them for trying something else now?
Valid point. Still I personally don’t quite see myself as a “customer” until they are in a full production shipping state (which they now are).
Too bad “rational” is entirely subjective. If you can rationalize it, then you are rational! LOL
My point was that the Soylent team has went much farther than they needed to. They didn’t have to make it easy for you to make your own, cheaper version of their product. This is cutting into their bottom line. Could you imagine Jobs saying they are going to put out an COOL new version of their iPhone next year, and by the way here are the hardware specs and all the source code so you can build your own instead of buying/waiting ours.
Its not cutting into their bottom line. It was a brilliant marketing idea that kept a growing community interested in a project while they waited a year (and counting) for the real thing. Every one of those DIYers will be ordering the real thing.
Since we’re only semi on topic, at this point, anyway, I don’t feel like it’s derailing too much to ask:
Does anyone else read this thread title to the same tune as “We love you Beatles.”
To complete the analogy though, Jobs would have to promise an apple made phone in September and not deliver for another 6 months while stringing fans every week or so along the way.