2 comments on “Can you spare a quarter?

  1. Excellent observation. This short term thinking is one of the main reasons I dont usually recommend buying from smaller vendors. The product and its aproach is often very promising but has a few rough edges and lacks some (basic) functions you would need. They will promise to fix all of that in a couple of “quarters” and you trust them because they built this awesome product in such a short time so this cant be a problem. After seeing completely unrelated superspecific features being released all the time and almost no improvements to the base product you realise its never going to happen and start to look for a replacement after a meaningfull time so the management wont get crazy about having to replace this “awesome” new technology you were so heavily advocating for just a couple years ago. Happened to me multiple times and it always hurts because it kills great products and ideas by trying to please the one big customer instead of having the courage to focus on the long-term success.

    • Well, as I said large vendors are quite susceptible to this as well. It’s a problem I’ve seen growing worse and worse as what I call “corporatism” has taken over. Quarter-by-quarter thinking is often combined with short-term syndrome. (“I’m only going to be a product manager here for 2 years, so let me pump up the next couple quarters and who cares about the long term!”) Small vendors are often just trying to get acquired, so they have to build the logo slide with a few large customers and cater mostly to them. To what extent is a smaller customer valuable? As one fraction of a number on a slide (“we’ve gotten 300 deployments so far!”). Larger companies are interested in keeping Wall Street optimistic about their futures. (Stock price, as Cisco’s old CFO liked to point out, is a view of future value, not present value.) Either way, incentives are wrong and companies are often thinking about anything but their customer.

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