|Jeremy Hylton : weblog : 2003-06-23|
Monday, June 23, 2003
Michael Yoon posted an interesting reflection on the demise of ArsDigita.
It is a more balanced account than Eve Andersson's Diary of a Start-Up or Philip Greenspun's >From Start-Up to Bust-Up. Yoon explains bad decisions that were made, including some of his own. The other pieces tend to assign blame without explaining the nuts-and-bolts of what was happening.
There are some parallels with Zope Corporation. I think ZC has avoided a number of the problems that hurt ArsDigita. Many or most of AD's customers were themselves startup companies; ZC has a more diverse customer list. ZC has stayed small, instead of ballooning up to 100s of employees in anticipation of future revenue. This difference may be a matter of timing. If ZC had gotten a big investment at about the time AD did, ZC might have grown too big, too.
Zope Corp. has done a much better job of engaging with the larger open source community. AD seems to have been at odds with the developers working on OpenACS. The core Zope software is managed by ZC, but there are many external contributors.
The story of ACS4 should be a cautionary tale for Zope3, although I think it's possible to manage the Zope3 transition better.