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Pyra - a company built to flip?
May 2, 2000 9:06 AM   Subscribe

Pyra - a company built to flip? Sippey makes the most important statement and one that I have posted here before... Both Blogger, and Pyra are great products but where is the BUSINESS MODEL. Matt do not censor this please... it is a very valid point whether you like it or not...
posted by efader (47 comments total)

 
efader, you sir, are an idiot. You already posted this elsewhere, you've done this before, and I've told you why it was a stupid thing to do, but you felt the need to beat your own drum on the front page for everyone to see yet again.

Do this one more time, and you'll never be able to post again.
posted by mathowie at 9:28 AM on May 2, 2000


It seems to me, biased as I am, that all you need to do is a little bit of thinking to come up with some potential business models for both products. Here, let me help: licensing, monthly fees, professional services/custom installs, the ever-popular giant user base & advertisements, co-branded versions, co-hosted versions, packaged non-customized installs, etc. etc. I don't think, as Michael alluded in his post, it's a question of *whether* there's a viable business model here, it's a question of *which* business model makes the most sense. Which product is the one to pursue? Pyra? Blogger? A different product?

These are questions we as a company are working to answer. What I'd love to see here, rather than the same question asked over and over again, is a discussion, if people are interested, which strives to answer it.
posted by megnut at 9:33 AM on May 2, 2000


Oh please....companies that are in it just for the money do not build free tools like Blogger so that anyone who wants to can build an easily-to-update site.

I guess I have an advantage here because I know the folks behind Pyra...they are in it for the love, not the money. There are more worthy targets to pick on here....as companies go, Pyra is pretty right-minded (especially for a Web company).

And where does it say that a company has to reveal its business plan? Just because you can't figure out what it is doesn't mean they don't have one.

>Matt do not censor this please

Don't we all know Matt well enough by now to know that the only reason he would remove this post is that there is already an existing thread about this very issue. Why does your opinion warrant special front page attention while others are content to post their comments to the original thread where they belong?
posted by jkottke at 9:36 AM on May 2, 2000


Frankly, I'd remove it because I detest reading about the Weblog Industry on every single solitary weblog. Somebody needs to publish "Weblog Week" to go along with MediaWeek and AdWeek so all those indulgent lint-collecting, elbow-sucking, ear-diddling threads about What It All Means and How To Design for Usability and Keeping Your Audience can be found, and ignored, all in one place. They're tedious, boring, wasteful, yawn-inducing conversations about uselessness and futility. Web loggers oughta spend more time giving out cool links, great info and personal perspectives on new things than counting toenail clippings and calling them Important.
posted by Mo Nickels at 9:48 AM on May 2, 2000


PS: I'm in the middle of final exams and term papers, interrupted by a trip to Missouri; trying to collect 22 pieces of paper for the French consulate; attempting to sell, store or give away my stuff; planning a dinner party for 16 people; figuring out what to get for the 90-year-old who has nothing; and contemplating the odds of getting my PowerBook back before I leave for a year in Paris if I send it to Apple for a new friction thingy in the lid hinge.

You can ignore my crankiness if you want.
posted by Mo Nickels at 9:53 AM on May 2, 2000


Cripes! I'm quite sure they can figure out how to earn a decent living. Just what exactly is the motivation behind the demand to see them produce a viable revenue model? Shall we all storm out and demand to see Micro$oft's secret plan "in case of a gov't breakup?" Or, perhaps we could march over to Chrysler and demand to know what they plan to do about 1999's losses?

Hey, that sounds like things stockholders would do. Please, a show of hands... all Pyra stockholders please raise your hands.
posted by Dean_Paxton at 10:36 AM on May 2, 2000


efader what on earth are you talking about? Are they burning through VC? Are they making a decent living doing consulting work? How do they get publicity from that consulting work? Do I know at least 10 companies that would probably pay $1000 per server and $100 per seat per year for an in house copy of Pyra? If I recall correctly the answers are: No, yes, from Pyra and Blogger, and "hell yes".

The term "built to flip" doesn't even apply to this kind of company, it applies to VC funded startups that have no subsistence on their own. Don't build for the long term, just grow fast and then get someone to buy.

By your logic any company that is building something that they haven't yet decided how to charge for is just a scam. That leaves car dealerships as the only reputable businesses.

posted by faisal at 11:22 AM on May 2, 2000


Matt, you should have just deleted the post, as per Metafilter's guidelines:

>> A good post to MetaFilter is something that meets the following criteria: most people haven't seen it before, there is something interesting about the content on the page, and it might warrant discussion from others. <<

and

>> Failure to follow these guidelines may result in your posts being deleted. <<

Everyone had already see the post the previous day, so it should have just been removed. No need the call the guy a dip (even if he may be one) and threaten to take away his posting priviledges. Just provide appropriate feedback and kill the post. If he continues to rant on this, I'm sure the community will eventually tune the village idiot out and he'll go away.

All that being said, it is your site, and you can do whatever the h3ll you want. If repeated offenses are going to result in having posting rights revoked, I'd update the About section to reflect that fact.


posted by Calebos at 11:45 AM on May 2, 2000


On that note, you might add the ability to close a Metafilter thread, intact. You could have closed this one after your post, then removed it after everyone had a chance to see it.

On the other hand, the amount of policing you have the time and desire to do is strictly up to you. I'm sort of glad I don't have so much traffic that I've had to worry about what to do in such situations.
posted by mrmorgan at 12:18 PM on May 2, 2000


Ed, the rules are evolving as people do things to warrant new rules. Before I just deleted the post and sent an email to efader. He ignored that, and so I left this here to remind him and everyone what is bad.

The problem with simple deleting is that people showing up afterwards don't see the lame post, but they also don't see the repurcussions of posting lame things.

And I never thought anyone would do something worthy of being booted for life until now. So yeah, I suppose the rules will have to be updated to reflect that.
posted by mathowie at 12:18 PM on May 2, 2000


(if i can jump in here. the last graf of my obvious piece was intended as *irony*, people. it's actually quite simple to come up with dozens of potential business models for pyra/blogger. what was meant by the comment is that the challenge for the pyrites (ooh! pyrites! i like that! oooh, i said "ooh!") will be picking the right one and choosing their path. blogger or pyra? licensed or hosted? project collaboration or site publishing? who drives enhancements? how are they prioritized? what's the sales channel? what's the pricing model? etc., etc.)

oh, and sheesh -- if he's not following the posted rules, then delete his posts. and if you need to update the rules to deal with repeated violators, then update the rules. and then when someone breaks the rules, boot 'em.
posted by msippey at 1:14 PM on May 2, 2000


I don't understand why people keep saying that Pyra needs a business model. I've been assuming all along that they *have* a business model, but weren't publicizing it. The fact that they neglected to email me a copy only tells me that it doesn't personally involve me.

rcb
posted by rebeccablood at 1:15 PM on May 2, 2000


um...what rebecca said. With an exclamation mark!
posted by sperare at 1:36 PM on May 2, 2000


It's interesting to me that the man with the power to delete posts, revoke users, etc. is being a lot more forgiving of the original poster than some of the readers. Probably because Matt is in the hot seat, and will have to live with the decisions he makes. Keep up the good work, Matt. As far as Pyra's business model goes, their silence tells me that they're willing to stand on their existing achievements rather than blue sky promises.
posted by harmful at 1:50 PM on May 2, 2000


rebecca++

and quotesfiled, while we're at it


posted by faisal at 1:55 PM on May 2, 2000


Hmm. A rating engine built on web of trust would be cool. Speaking of Matt's copious free time.
posted by faisal at 1:56 PM on May 2, 2000


Matt wrote: >> Before I just deleted the post and sent an email to efader. He ignored that, and so I left this here to remind him and everyone what is bad. <<

Capice. All in all, probably a wise move. I guess that I always favor the approach of letting the community regulate itself. I realize that that is not always possible.

I just think that, as part of a community, we all have a role to play in maintaining the integrity of this space. Granted, the only way we can do that right now is by ignoring the offending parties. Maybe we'll be seeing additional tools built into Metafilter that will alow the community to moderate itself (moderation a la Slashdot, or via soem complex trust metric like the one used on advogato.org
posted by Calebos at 2:04 PM on May 2, 2000


Doh! Faisal beat me to the web-of-trust / trust metric idea.
posted by Calebos at 2:06 PM on May 2, 2000


a web of trust is a good one. I think before I go full bore into learning collaborative filtering, I could add something to user pages. So if you clicked on my name below this post, you could click one of two options, "I like this poster", or "I don't want to see posts from this person anymore"

Then I filter each day's posts by people you like first, drop the people you hate, then sort the rest by chronology. I could filter comments too, but then the comments below don't quite make sense.
posted by mathowie at 2:44 PM on May 2, 2000


If you had threading then filtering works - if you kill a post all the replies get killed as well.

On the other hand, I don't think that would really work here.

Collab filtering would probably be something like: I see a post, I rate it on a scale from 1-5. Those ratings are applied to the user and the thread. Over time it develops an average rating for users, threads, and user/thread combinations. Then just rank by each. You can also compare user/thread combination rankings to see if I'm likely to like a post that I haven't ranked yet.

posted by faisal at 3:01 PM on May 2, 2000


That's probably a good idea. It's a little sad, though. Part of the cool factor of Metafilter, so far, has been the community aspect. Every community has a few annoying loudmouths. It's interesting to see their views bounce off, and even ocassionally influence, the more well-respected members of the community.
Although I fully support this measure, it does raise the prospect of islands of people that think alike. Inevitable, I guess.
posted by lbergstr at 3:01 PM on May 2, 2000


I must say that it seems a lot of people are willing to volunteer Matt to do a lot of work here!

I myself am grateful for what he's done already, and I find that Mark I Eyeballs are sufficiently versatile to permit me to ignore what I don't want to read (and to not click the links I don't want to follow).

Anything beyond that is gravy.

I do sometimes worry that the things I post might not be in the spirit of the board, but a lot of them do inspire conversation and so far no-one has gotten upset with me for anything I've posted; so I guess that's good enough.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 3:24 PM on May 2, 2000


Why any company would not want to involve Rebecca is beyond me...
posted by daveadams at 3:39 PM on May 2, 2000


Back to the orginal topic for a sec: Personally, I don't mind if people question our business model, or (apparent) lack thereof. I'm just glad we're doing something interesting enough for people to care. ;)

For the record, and to clarify a couple things:

We were not built to flip. We were built to do interesting things. A business model (otherwise known as *making money*) is necessary (once people's bank accounts run out) in order to continue to do interesting things. For the first year of our existence, that was consulting. But we wanted to grow (a little) and do more of our own stuff, so we recently took some outside funding and stopped doing consulting. It's not VC money. It's cool/smart money that will allow us to do more cool stuff. (We'll be announcing who it's from within a week or so.)

We didn't take a lot of money though, so, soon we'll need to choose one (or more) of many possible revenue streams (i.e., *ways to make money*) -- as mentioned by Meg and Michael -- and start implementing it. If it personally involves you, we'll let you know. Meanwhile, if you have any ideas for us, let us know. :)

Thanks,
Ev.
posted by evhead at 3:48 PM on May 2, 2000


I always thought Pyra's business model was selling that snazzy blue t-shirt. I tried to order mine but it's on back order.

Does it really matter?
posted by malhinha at 3:56 PM on May 2, 2000


"valid point" for whom? It is as if efader is implying this discussion - business model or no business model - impacts the community converging here on metafilter. I don't see it.

About rating posts, IMHO this is one of the things that bothers me about SlashDot. Although, they do have a high volume of idiot posters, so it is handy to filter the dregs. However I think one of metafilter's strengths is its non hierarchical structure.

Yes, more t-shirts.
posted by birgitte at 5:02 PM on May 2, 2000


Item. From where I sit there's plenty of models to choose from at this business. Hubba hubba! When does the calendar come out?
posted by dhartung at 5:19 PM on May 2, 2000


No! No. No threading... *please*. I *hate* threading. I have yet to see *anyone* come up with a reasonable way to represent a threaded tree of messages that doesn't have the "march off the right hand side of my (already too small at 640x480) page" problem.

I'm thinking maybe drop the size of the postings from proplr I don't wanna read by one or two, so I can just scroll past them, myself...

But right now, I have size-self-limiting comment threads that I can read all of with just a mouse drag. I like that a *lot*.
posted by baylink at 5:24 PM on May 2, 2000


Oh yes, and anyone who won't fill out their user profile-- you are a coward. And no it's not a 'valid point' efader, it's none of your business.
posted by EngineBeak at 6:34 PM on May 2, 2000


I'm not sure if a question like this (that doesn't need to be repeated needlessly, ahem) arises from concern for the company's employees, curiosity or a need to be be controversial. In any case, if it has to be asked, there is a less spastic and more polite way of doing so. These are intelligent people, they've created some incredible applications...I think they're smart enough to make some money off of it. It's nothing for the rest of us to lose sleep over.
posted by flower at 6:42 PM on May 2, 2000


Hey, efader is right! I just took Pyra through the Consumers Union obstacle course and managed to flip it at speeds as low as 40mph. Clearly the problem is a narrow wheelbase and a high center of gravity - which is generally a symptom of tall and/or skinny programmers. I'd still buy one, though - cause the 'girls' dig a tricked out Pyra.
posted by CrazyUncleJoe at 7:49 PM on May 2, 2000


Also, from when I worked at Deja.com -- we did some research, and it turns out that (believe it or not) conversations stay a lot more focused and (admittedly, this is subjective) a lot more interesting when they're not threaded. The best presentation is the one that Metafilter currently has -- flat, linear presentation, all to a page. Threading is bad. It displays badly, and it breaks the flow of a Web conversation (this probably has something to do with the paginated nature of the Web, but I don't really want to explore that right now.) No threading. Threading bad. no like threading. That is all.

However, I would love it if Matt released that code that we all know he's got hidden around here somewhere that emails you all the responses to a particular Metafilter post. :)
posted by monstro at 8:15 PM on May 2, 2000



My goal of the post was not to cause controversy but to further discussion. Often threads that are posted one day only receive input from readers that particular day. Hence the double posting.. Sorry... Matt maybe you could implement a whats hot feature... Basically it would spotlight on the front page of metafilter the most active discussions determined by x number of posts...

There are many usefull tools both free and on a per fee basis. So far both pyra and blogger are free and I personally would not pay for add on or advanced features. The ASP (application service provider) industry is a hot topic but one that has come under a lot of criticisim.

Take Blogger for example.. how many companies have used blogger so far... my initial notion is that blogger is geared towards and used by people who maintain their personal weblogs... not corporate sites...

Personally I would not pay to maintain my website remotely using blogger... Also blogger works only with relatively static webpages and doesn't take into account that many sites are database driven and often render an outside tool like blogger useless.

keep up the innovation and I hope you are successful...
posted by efader at 9:23 PM on May 2, 2000


My 2cents. And they're gonna cost me.
Some common-sense facts, and some thoughts leading from there:
Pyra is going to need to sell itself to make money.
Pyra is most suited to organising project-based workflows.
Pyra will need to sell itself to industries that project-based work (software, construction, publishing).

In the long run, Pyra will need to be sold. Blogger uses very little of the functionality that Pyra provides. This means that Pyra (the company) can probably get away with providing free blogging support without endangering a paid-for-pyra model.
Pyra has several ways it can go with this.
a) Buy the app. Customer gets an out-of-the-box solution they can run on their own.
b) Lease the app. Customer can lease parts of the app, thru Pyra (the servers), at a monthly cost. This is probably not the way Pyra should go, as it involves Pyra taking on board the hardware/intrastructure costs, rather than the customer. Which means a profit margin far, far less than potential may provide.
c) Venture Capital their way out of it. The pyra crew let VCs take over Pyra (the company), the crew take their remaining shares and walk away.
d) Variations of the above.
Now, to me, the Pyra crew wouldn't want to walk away from owning Pyra (both the company and the app). But they do have to put food on the table. Solution (a) is going to be the hardest to deliver and support. Solution (b) is going to be the hardest to sell and finance.
Which is why Pyra is probably having a hard time choosing a business model. I know I would.


posted by Neale at 9:32 PM on May 2, 2000


Well, Monstro, it's nice to receive independent validation of my instincts (ok, 'tastes').

What *I'm* looking for, myself, is something that mails me and tells me when I've been followed up; I don't need the content; I'll probably point such mail to my Skytel, I just want the notice.
posted by baylink at 9:36 PM on May 2, 2000


Another thought.. yahoo seems to be sitting back and watching web application trends... hmmm yahoo could implement its own version of remote editing of websites and wipe out companies like Pyra...

Take a looksee.... http://docs.yahoo.com/docs/family/more.html

They have quietly built its own billpay, clubs, email, briefcase, calendar, address book, greetings, mobile, messenger, net phone and more.. most offered for free...
posted by efader at 9:42 PM on May 2, 2000


Matt:

Please do not take my initial post personally... I feel that you were out of line for calling me an idiot ...

I only brought forth a relevant topic in the days of the internet startups with mere feature or product sets... and no clear business model.


posted by efader at 9:43 PM on May 2, 2000


Why do you care? What competing company do you work for? :)
posted by MarkBakalor at 9:48 PM on May 2, 2000


I will entertain all criticism and comments live via icq:
my number is 12865768


posted by efader at 9:51 PM on May 2, 2000


Aha! By George, I think we've found it. Efader, before you duck out of public view, could you please answer the question? What competing company do you work for?
posted by MarkBakalor at 10:11 PM on May 2, 2000


As far as I'm concerned...
posted by Mick at 10:18 PM on May 2, 2000


As far as collaborative filtering is concerned, on my Slash-engine-powered site--which will go unnamed for the moment, as that seems to be bad form--we've been discussing the possibilities. Beyond the obvious (Girlhacker gets +1, e.g.), there's all kinds of interesting possiblities. Do I trust Joe to recommend movies, but downgrade his political rants? And vice versa with Jane? Is there a way to reward someone who consistantly goes against the grain and recommends things that you also like? Doing something elegant with collaborative filtering seems to cry out for proper cataloging/classification. (Any discussion gladly entertained via email, if this is too off-topic or too late, but this line of discussion is remarkably similar to something I was tossing around with a few people last week.)
posted by snarkout at 12:22 AM on May 3, 2000


comment:

re Pyra: if you build it, they will come.

metacomment:

I'm just about giving up on Slashdot in favour of Metafilter, so anything to take it down that route (threading, filtering) would give me the shudders.
posted by holgate at 2:20 AM on May 3, 2000


Slashdot's moderation system is compelling though, especially considering the ridiculous number of posts lately.

However, moderation isn't an easy thing to do well, and would be awkward without threading.

I do fear that MF may be invaded by all the stupidity that seems to plague Slashdot (read at -1 sometime, it's ridiculous).
posted by fil! at 2:41 AM on May 3, 2000


I agree with holgate, the thing that set Metafilter apart from the likes of /. is the diversity of the discussions, and if the price to pay is a few ill-informed comments then I for one would rather scroll past them and go to topics that interest me.
To me the whole thing depends on the amount of time Matt can/is willing to spend doing moderation, so far he's done a damn fine job, but it's getting so there are more and more postings each day.
And *No threading please*, urgh!
posted by Markb at 5:42 AM on May 3, 2000


I don't work for a competing company MarkB
posted by efader at 7:32 AM on May 3, 2000


Just a note to efader: _My_ company uses Blogger to post to internal weblogs, no personal sites around. We currently have 47 blog-enabled employees and are quite happy with the tool, its performance, and the results.
posted by dhacker at 9:26 AM on May 3, 2000


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