So what next? No idea at present. But I know what it will not be. First, nothing around Document Generation. I’ve signed a non-compete but an even larger reason is after 17 years in that world, I want to do something very different.
Second, it won’t be enterprise software. Working with the teams we sold to was fine and often enjoyable. If it was only that I’d happily create another product & company around an enterprise software product. But…
There’s the legal teams with the license changes and the purchasing team that tries to reduce the price. Working with either one of these is enough to say no more. Both is an absolute no more. They add nothing positive and cost everyone time and money.
First is legal. We’ve had requests for absolutely ridiculous terms including stating that the software is bug free. For many of these clauses I wonder if the lawyer is stupid or just wants a clause that makes them feel good that they know is not being met. There are other items including clauses that would bankrupt our company if they occurred (how does that help anyone),and the list goes on.
And what truly makes this all inane is never once in 17years did any of our customers even threaten to sue us. Never once did we even consider threatening to sue one of our customers. And when something was desperately needed by a customer, it was a new feature which no license would cover – that was up to balancing the effort involved vs. the relationship we had with that customer.
So all that legal effort at hundreds of companies, and at our end for each one – a total waste of time. And yet it could take 6 months to get worked out.
Second is the purchasing people who’s entire job is to get a discount. These are people who seem to enjoy being an asshole and pushing their weight around. In other words, very unpleasant people. We never provided discounts and as I told person after person after person, when I had not provided a discount to companies that came before them, how on earth would it e equitable to give them a discount (one person replied to me that “she didn’t give a fuck what I had done for others” – nice).
What bothers me about this more than the actual phone calls with the assholes (those were actually easy because there was no negotiation, the answer was no), is that the company clearly is not interested in a partnership, it is interested in gaining every last cent of advantage by screwing over their suppliers to the nth degree. I don’t want to work with entities like that.
And again, like the legal step, we lost maybe one deal/year over this. So in terms of total income, we came our way ahead by refusing to discount. And deals closed quicker because the price negotiation step didn’t exist (or did actually, but it was a 5 minute phone call telling them no). With that said, I didn’t mind the ones that asked, because it was common to get a discount. It’s the ones that didn’t accept a “sorry, no” and then brought on the professional assholes.
And to the companies that take this approach – you’re right that your vendors are out to screw you and are maximizing what they get from you while delivering as little as possible. But they do that because you invited that type of relationship. (Full disclosure – maybe 5% of our customers did this, but it was growing to 10% in the most recent years.)
So anyways, I’ll miss working with enterprise development teams – I met a lot of smart thoughtful motivated people and it was a joy working with them. To me the big win was not selling our product, it was providing value to these teams. But I won’t miss that legal and purchasing teams you come with (I’m guessing you’d like to be without them too).
And my next product, almost certainly consumer facing. Consumers don’t even read the license agreement.