Don't Be A Free User - Pinboard Blog


Maciej Ceglowski, calling the “start a free web service, refuse to implement a business model, and eventually get bought” shenanigans for what they are:

Whether or not this is done in good faith, in practice this kind of ‘exit event’ is a pump-and-dump scheme. The very popularity that attracts a buyer also makes the project financially unsustainable. The owners cash out, the acquirer gets some good engineers, and the users get screwed.

To avoid this problem, avoid mom-and-pop projects that don’t take your money! You might call this the anti-free-software movement.

That’s a great name for it. At this point, I am genuinely skeptical of free services or apps that can’t be bothered or flat-out refuse to implement some kind of a business model. I need tools and services I can depend on, not web services that get bought and shut down or pivot to chase the latest stupid trend, and definitely not free or open source apps that eventually get abandoned because they became too much work or the developers finally realized they need real jobs or had a kid.

This is one of the reasons why I wished Tumblr would start charging money for the service, even if only for some kind of premium variant. I love the service, but apart from a few themes I haven’t paid them directly. Tumblr going away—by shutting down or being bought—would mean a lot of work and headaches for me.

Many services could secure their existence and become even better by charging something. I gladly paid for Simplenote Premium for two years, because I wanted one of the premium features and wanted to support the developers.

I like free stuff as much as the next guy—hell, I’m a student for chrissakes—but I believe that where people see value, they’re going to pay.

Alex Hoffmann @mangochutney