Two interesting articles published today. The first is an announcement from Dark Sky that they have sold a piece of their company to Applied Invention. The second is a status update from Studio Neat on a recent change they made to their business model for Slow Fast Slow.
From the Dark Sky piece:
We’ve never done anything like this before, and any time you introduce new partners you’re taking a significant risk. In fact, I’d put the odds of Dark Sky crashing and burning in the next couple years (or worse: turning into something we no longer love) as high as 50%. But really, that’s a big improvement. If it were just Jay and myself, the odds of utter destruction would be much higher; closer to 100%. The two of us were trying to do the job of a much larger team (i.e. design and development of a sizable app and website and data service, keeping a hundred Linode servers up and running, customer service, corporate development, and all the nitty-gritty work involved in running a business), and that just isn’t sustainable. Continuing down that road would lead to unimaginable stress, burn-out, probable heart disease, and a slow and steady descent into functional alcoholism.
And from Studio Neat:
We stated in the aforementioned post that “if we can generate only one sale of a Glif (or any of our products, really) per day as a result of this ad, it will be worth it.” It is too early to know if the app will continue to drive traffic to studioneat.com once it is no longer featured in the App Store. But, as you can see from the graph below, revenue clearly saw an uptick when we switched to the free model and started directing traffic to studioneat.com.
Now, perhaps some will see both of these developments as bad news for indie developers. You can’t succeed without selling out. You have to pivot to hardware because of the dismal state of App Store pricing. You can’t make a living just selling apps anymore. And so on. The doom and gloom practically writes itself. But what I take away from both of these posts is actually much more favorable.
Companies have to grow to survive, and there’s nothing wrong with bringing on extra talent to do a better job accomplishing your goals. If you have shortcomings as a business person, or you’re just at the end of your rope as far as how many hours you can put into a product on your own, there’s no shame in seeking some outside expertise. It sounds like Dark Sky had gone about as far as it could under the leadership of its founders. If it were being sold outright to some giant company like Google, I’d say good for Adam and Jay, and then I’d start searching for a replacement app immediately. In this case, however, I’m much more cautiously optimistic. It sounds like Applied Invention might actually have some real talent that can bring improvements to Dark Sky. And the founders are still very much involved. I’ll be watching with interest, at the very least.
In the case of Slow Fast Slow, I see some creative business thinking that seems to be bearing fruit. While theirs is not a model I can readily apply to my own products, it does give me inspiration to think outside the App Store for where I might get some money from customers. Remember, Studio Neat is a hardware company first and a software company second. It only makes sense for them to take an app which was not making much money on its own and try to use it to boost sales of their primary hardware product, the Glif. While the “App as Ad” approach is normally only utilized by larger companies, here we get to see it in action from a much smaller indie outfit.
So congratulations to Adam and Jay on their new partnership, and thanks to Dan Provost for sharing some numbers from Studio Neat’s latest experiment. I’m fond of saying there’s no one right way of going about the indie software business, and these guys are living proof.