Six Apart, J &Amp; J, Coke &Amp; Union Carbide

3 June 2004

In the wee hours I received two comments to this weblog from Anil Dash who is Vice President of Business Development for Six Apart. Anil was interested in features that I’m looking for that might make me switch from Movable Type. He also responded to my public inquiry about how quiet the company seems to have become.

Here’s how I answered Anil this morning:


Thanks very much for your comments. Certainly I would never encourage a business in extremis to act or react with undue haste. Having worked with a number of large corporate crises, I’d avoid suggesting any course of action that might make things worse. Your comment to me gives a much better indication of how you and your coworkers are viewing the situation, its magnitude, your customers and the urgency of the matter.

As for features that make me want to switch, I don’t think of a single competitor’s feature that would prompt a change. Similarly, I can’t think of a single software feature that, if added, would be sufficient to retain me as a customer.

Movable Type – now Six Apart – has had an enviable reputation as customer-oriented. I think it is the handling of changes and communication with customers that makes me look for alternatives. As an outsider to this ”event,” I see many others who have switched for similar reasons.

One lesson learned from years in business is that there are diplomatic ways to ”fire” certain customers or customer segments. Your developer edition, the pricing structure and your announcements concerning the commercial demand for your products and services may be signals that the real growth of Six Apart will be funded not by individuals, but by larger corporate clients. That’s fine; and absent the demands of a support-intensive set of individuals, you may well flourish under the alternative strategy. Clearly, the things you are measuring in your business are telling you what to do and which markets to pursue.

Again, I appreciate your comments and the insight you’ve provided into how you’re approaching the recent changes.



Steve Pilgrim

  • * * UPDATE * * * I’m not completely certain how the skillset differs between one who is considered a ”developer” vs. one who is considered a ”designer.” Someone once said, designers make things look pretty. I think it goes well beyond that. Whatever the case, Six Apart is clearly focusing its effort and energy on a class of customers it calls ”developers.” The market overlap between those who might use LiveJournal or Blogger and those who would use Movable Type or Expression Engine is getting removed.

TypePad is the (recurring revenue) service that Six Apart offers to those who might be considering Blogger or LiveJournal. Movable Type is a tool for developers. You’ll have to be the judge of what skills you must possess to be called a developer!

>From what I’ve seen, the skilled people who are using tools built around PHP and MySQL are clearly developers. Most of the time they know the other elements of L-A-M-P such as Linux and Apache. The hue-and-cry over 6A’s moves has energized WordPress and Textpattern along with others.

At some point, the skills people possess must be marketed. To do that developers must appeal to business people. Business people think in terms of cost, time and what’s-in-it-for-me. If you are capable of saying, ”I can take your two Movable Type sites, change the look slightly, move them to Textpattern (or Expression Engine, WordPress, etc.) and preserve the functionality you now have in those sites,” you have an incredible business proposition to make. If you can also say those things and put a time and cost estimate against it, you’ll stay just as busy as you want to stay!

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