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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Beta Program, Email List, Acquisition - A Case Study in What Not to Do

Let me set the context and then let excerpts from the emails tell the rest of the story. A company with a very good product (the leader in its category) asked its leading users to participate in a Beta program right around the time they were acquired. The acquired company established a listserve mailing list and put all of their top users on the list...Here a few of the emails (there are about 80 in total), but you'll get the idea:

Dec 8, 2005
Once the beta is ready I am sure they'll let us know first... No point asking every day.
Dec 8, 2005 - From official at company that was acquired
You will receive an email once we start the beta. Until then, I'd like to ask you not to post messages on this beta list. Thanks in advance for your understanding. The Product Team
Jan 6, 2006
Any word on the Beta?
Apr 11, 2006
Any word on the Beta?
Apr 11, 2006
I received an email about registering for the Beta from the new company. When I responded to be sure that they weren't putting me in twice, I was told that they had already filled out the group! I had responded immediately upon receiving the notice!
Apr 11, 2006
I had the same experience. Probably the new company has a different way to select beta testers...
May 22, 2006
On the new company's blog, it says that the product is in full beta, and that they have already received feedback. Yet, I have not seen anything about the product in over a month. Am I missing something? Thanks.
May 22, 2006
I believe that the prior Beta program is gone. The new company runs it under a different program called 'Prerelease', not beta. I am not sure how to apply, the process is much different now.
May 22, 2006
I don't know what's more pathetic - us all waiting for an email that apparently wasn't ever going to come for the start of this beta, or having to read 3rd-hand that we were led to believe we were in the beta testing program and when they changed their program the company, in effect through inaction, 'screw the old beta testers, no need for us to at least let them know that they're no longer beta testers!'. If anyone from the new company is reading this, and I doubt you are, next time show a little common courtesy for your customers.
May 23, 2006
I am looking for the message they are trying to send. When a company asks people to participate in a beta test, are they not identifying the group of people who are most passionate about your product and who are early adopters? So if they then send them the (unspoken) message that you do not need them... what exactly is the company trying to say to these passionate early adopters?

It is an interesting strategy.
Discussion of alternative products starts on the list. List of 10 competitors including open source are being discussed.

May 23, 2006
Abandoning their products is pretty easy. There are plenty of good alternatives out there, and they all output the same types of files....

And this is just TOO FUNNY...
May 23, 2006 -
To: a member of the list
Sent: Tuesday, May 23, 2006 11:24 AM
Subject: RE: Beta program

Would you be so kind and send this message to the list (I am not
authorized to post
) - Hopefully, I'll find out what's going on shortly.

I don't yet know how this story will end. Will the users all find alternative products? Will the new company figure out how to post on their own email list?

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