On Going Out of Business

The meaning of the idiom “fly by night” is “irresponsible; untrustworthy; undependable; dishonest. A fly-by-night person or organization cannot be trusted because they have not been established long, and could leave or close at any time (Alludes to a person who sneaks away secretly in the night.).

Unfortunately, I got to experience that idiom today, as one of the key WordPress plugins that I utilize in managing the 230+ blogs that come through Atlanta Tech Blogs each day, week, and month just up and disappeared. It’s no longer on wordpress.org in any way, shape or form.

Now, I’m not going to say I was altogether happy about the performance of this particular plugin. It works, but it definitely has its set of issues, and even though it was recently updated, support for the plugin was erratic at best. So while I was surprised when I got the “Whoops!” message on wordpress.org, I can’t say that I am shocked by it.

That said, I’ve had all too much experience in the “going out of business” area of startup life. I’ve started 6 companies and shut down 4 of them. It’s always painful, both emotionally and financially, and it always consumes a lot of time. But in every case, I tried to do the right thing by contacting everyone involved in the project to let them know, apologize for not meeting their expectations, and generally communicate that the service is going away.

The developer of this plugin didn’t do that at all, or, I should say, I did not receive or ever see any kind of notice that the plugin was going to be pulled and no longer supported. Bad form. From my understanding, the developer was a one-man show who also had a “day job” and simply didn’t have the time or resources to maintain a plugin that became quite popular.

Bad form. But with every problem comes an opportunity. No sooner did I see the WordPress “Whoops!” message than I did a search for this type of tool and found what looks to be an even better option. And, shock of all shocks, they responded to my inquiry within an hour, and gave me a discount on their product because they, too, just learned about the demise of their former competitor.

That’s why I love the free market. When someone can’t compete, they go away, and someone else has the opportunity to snag a bunch of customers simply by doing the right thing. And, as Truett Cathy always said, “It’s easier to succeed than it is to fail.”

What do you think about that?

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