Tom Petrocelli's take on technology. Tom is the author of the book "Data Protection and Information Lifecycle Management" and a natural technology curmudgeon. This blog represents only my own views and not those of my employer, Enterprise Strategy Group. Frankly, mine are more amusing.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Some More Whining about Values of N

I have been in a terribly whiny mood lately. I've been whining at work, whining at home, whining just about everywhere. At least now I have something real to whine about. Values of N has been acquired by Twitter and they are shutting down all the services that the company provided. That would be two of more favorite services, I Want Sandy and Stikkit. I won't go into why I think they are great (just look at the previous posts on these awesome services) but it is suffice to say, they will be missed.

Now, it is unusual for a company to buy another company and shut everything down almost immediately. Most of the time it takes a couple of years before management realized they have screwed up and should never have bought this dog. Not in this case. First, Values of N is not a dog. They have some of the most interesting and inventive software anywhere. Second, they did it right away. They finished the acquisition today (November 25) and are shutting everything off on December 8th. Even in Internet time that's fast.

I'll grant you that I never saw how Values of N was even attempting to make money. I always assumed that the Internet services were meant as a proving ground for software and they would simply license it to other software vendors. Bottom feeding is not, however, the reason that Twitter bought them. They did not buy them for their technology (though hopefully some of the best stuff will make its way into Twitter). Nope none of that conventional stuff.

Instead, they wanted the founder on their team. That's right, they bought a whole company and shut it down to get one guy, Rael Dornfest. Okay, he's a brilliant guy and all but still. Did they have to kill the whole company just to get one brilliant guy. Like I said, Twitter doesn't go for the conventional way of doing things.

There is a serious issue that the shutdown highlights. As more and more apps migrate to the Web, we have to worry about our data sitting on someone else's machine and what happens if that machine gets turned off. I don't mean temporarily but for good. Like Values of N. Needless to say, getting all my Stikkit notes converted to other bookmark managers and note programs was a pain, especially since there was no wholesale download facility.

Now imagine that Google turned off Google Apps. All the people who rely on it would find themselves having to find a new application plus migrate their data. Just as I was warming to online apps, I get slapped in the face with the cold hard reality of having my data in someone else's hands. Not pretty.

So, I bid a fond farewell to Stikkit, I Want Sandy, and all the promise of Values of N. I hope Twitter gave you a great deal Rael since the rest of us got a raw one. I'll stop whining now

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