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Socialtext Gets Cheeky Over JotSpot Purchase

Wiki startup JotSpot was acquired Tuesday by Google (Techmeme discussion) and I think it’s a very smart move for all parties. JotSpot is one of the few companies that earnestly put design and the user’s experience above other things, and I’m sure this did not go unnoticed by Google.

Amidst the congratulatory reach-arounds was an entry on the Socialtext blog by well-known entrepreneur and Socialtext CEO Ross Mayfield. A quote:

“Our experience has been that JotSpot customers convert to Socialtext when they realize they need a real business-class wiki,” said Socialtext CEO Ross Mayfield. “We have been gaining customers since they discontinued their Appliance offering. We hear a high degree of uncertainty from users faced with a potential lag in innovation and unclear integration strategy with Google. Socialtext is ready to support you and your business during this critical time.”

My translation out of PR speak and into what Ross really wanted to say:

“JotSpot was a competitor and we love it when some of their users come to us. JotSpot isn’t focused on the enterprise-class like we are, and because of that shortcoming we’ve been signing up some new accounts, and now will offer JotSpot users a free Socialtext wiki so that they can do grown-up, adult things like collaborate on Gantt charts and P/E ratio calculations. We’re silently upset that Google bought JotSpot, and the only mud we can sling is that even though Jot users will soon get Google’s world-class servers, there’s still a chance that their data is unavailable for 1-2 hours or the migration takes longer than they planned. If that improbable event does occur, not only will your business lose money but your children will all get projectile diarrhea, so you better migrate now or we’ll have to say we told you so.

Some things that Ross obviously left out of his heart-warming congratulatory post:

  • All JotSpot accounts, at any level, are now free, as in beer.
  • All JotSpot accounts are still active, you can login and do whatever you want.

See if JotSpot were being evil and shutting down all user accounts, suspending paying users, and holding data for ransom then Socialtext’s offer would be a light shining from heaven. But because there’s honestly nothing negative about the Google acquisition from Jot’s users’ points of view, it just comes out as underhanded. The timing really is interesting though, because just a day before JotSpot was acquired, SocialText announced a partnership with Microsoft to let Microsoft SharePoint users have simple, editable pages….. err….. enterprise-class collaborative wiki solutions be part of their application.

SocialText laughs on Monday but JotSpot gets the last laugh on Tuesday.

About Mike Rundle

Comments

  1. Josh Pigford says:

    Take that…jerks.

  2. Jack says:

    I don’t think the intentions behind the PR-speak are as evil as you think but then again, I don’t know the context around the whole thing.

    It is sorta petty to issue a statement with this air of smugness when your competitor reached this sort of milestone. A simple “congrats!” would have been nice (and maybe a muffin basket too).

    Also, very cool that JotSpot is free now. It’s a very generous move on their part but you can’t forget that this means your JotSpot account is going to be shipped off to the data mines to join your Gmail, search queries and Gtalk conversations in one big contextual lovefest.

  3. jeff nolan says:

    Mike,
    Jot had an enterprise product that they discontinued new sales of, and those customers were not on free stuff, they were paying Jot for the product/service. This is what Socialtext’s offer is aimed at.

    I think you should update your post to reflect that your knowledge of Jot’s customer landscape and product history is not complete.

    Jot’s consumer customers won’t be incented by this offer, but the customers that have been paying Jot for a product that has been discontinued will certainly be interested. BTW, Atlassian is making a similar offer as of yesterday.

  4. Mike Rundle says:

    Hey Jeff, I’m aware that JotSpot discontinued their enterprise offering but (please correct me if I’m wrong) I don’t believe that happened as a result of the acquisition but some period time of time beforehand. I do understand that Jot enterprise customers have been making the transition to Socialtext but I don’t think it’s fair to use that as some type of cannon fodder, indicative of how Jot likes to treat all their customers.

    My problem with the Socialtext blog entry was that it insinuated data loss and major integration issues, two things that Google and Jot probably have on the top of their priority list. The way it was worded made it seem as though such things are inevitable and Jot has no interest in their customers’ experience. I imagine an analogy could be if Coke decided to come out with a new softdrink and Pepsi announced that all Coke drinkers who got violently sick from this new softdrink were free to a case of Pepsi because they care so deeply about Coke drinkers. Even though the new Coke softdrink is perfectly fine and nobody has gotten sick, Pepsi wanted to plant that picture in user’s heads for whatever reason. :)

  5. Jeff Nolan says:

    Jot discontinued the enterprise product before the acquisition, which actually makes my point that this is a customer base that very much was in limbo before the acquisition and even more so now. Google doesn’t care about supporting end user organizations, if they did then they would have genuine customer support rather than “email us your problem or look at our knowledgebase”. Who do you call if writely isn’t working? What happens when gmail’s IMAP server isn’t working and you need to download your email? These are real issues that business users will face and Google is not prepared to deal with them.

    This isn’t about Jot and Joe Kraus anymore, it’s Google now so whatever expectations customers had about support and service are out the window. Google will define what the customer experience will be and quite honestly for business users they leave a lot to be desired, which is why Microsoft is in a lot safer position that a lot of industry watchers are willing to admit.

    This is a competitive market and I don’t think that Socialtext or Atlassian or anyone else should be apologetic about going after these customers by leveraging the uncertainty that comes as a result of the acquisition.

    It’s all well and good to talk about being gracious or offering hearty congratulations to Joe and all that, but the fact of the matter is that Socialtext and Jot compete with one another. If Socialtext can get some leverage from the acquisition of Jot then they would be irresponsible to not do it.

  6. Horace Kingman says:

    What a whiney dude. Jeff Nolan, is Ross Mayfield making your mortgage payment?

  7. Nick says:

    Jeff,

    Since you mention Atlassian, I guarantee you won’t see anyone complain about their offer to migrate Jotspot’s customers. Why? Because they did so in a classy, respectful manner. Go back and compare Socialtext’s announcement(s) and Atlassian’s. If you can’t see how Socialtext’s is in poor taste, then you’re probably just a shill for Ross.

    Also, you say:

    “Who do you call if writely isn’t working? What happens when gmail’s IMAP server isn’t working and you need to download your email? These are real issues that business users will face and Google is not prepared to deal with them.”

    And where is the guarantee that Socialtext won’t run out of money and close up shop at some point? While you may be comforted by the fact that someone is answering your calls now, others might be more comforted by the promise of the longevity and proven scalability they will surely get from Google for years to come.

  8. jeff nolan says:

    “What a whiney dude. Jeff Nolan, is Ross Mayfield making your mortgage payment?”

    it’s no secret that I led the investment for SAP in Socialtext, so in a manner of speaking, yeah I guess Ross does stand to make my mortgage payment… in fact, I could end up buying a whole house off that company someday.

    Nick,
    Socialtext gets much more attention than Atlassian, as a company, so it doesn’t surprise me that you and a small minority of people are complaining about it. Having said that, I’m more than pleased by the sales leads that have come into the company in the 24 hours that followed the original posting by Ross, it’s clear that a meaningful percentage of Jotspot’s enterprise customers are motivated to move. Lastly, I’ve had a number of private emails not complaining but saying it’s about time these companies realize they are in a competitive market and take aggressive action when the opportunity presents itself. You complain, I say “well done”.

  9. Mike Rundle says:

    Horace, I got such a big kick out of your comment since like Jeff said, he probably does pay the mortgage in a roundabout way ;)

  10. Nick says:

    For those nitpickers out there – JotSpot’s discontinuation of the enterprise JotSpot came completely as a surprise to our studio – and we were in the midst of testing it.

    We now have about six months to find a new enterprise class collaborative wiki and are looking at both of the competitors mentioned.

    The time that will be lost in transitioning to a new wiki will be immense, both in migration time and learning curve for my teams.

    We are unhappy with JotSpot based on the loss of the enterprise version which we intended to migrate towards after beta, and because customer service became quite spotty prior to (and since) Google’s acquisition.

    At the same time, I will say that working with the JotSpot folks prior to all this was great. Too bad it didn’t stay that way.

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