Thursday, November 5, 2009

Response to "Bug tracking isn't a network-effect business"

Ok, so my first post is going to be a bit of a fanboy post. I've been a keen reader of Joel Spolkys blog since the aticle series "Working on CityDesk". Its fun to read stuff written by a guy who actually knows what writing is all about: Entertaining your audience. A lot of Joels stuff should also be taken in that vain: The reason people read him is not that he is always right, it's that his posts are entertaining. So are the Stackoverflow Podcasts, btw.
I'm kind of surprised about articles like this one on 37signals, that read Joel Spolskys latest post and jump to all kinds of conclusions.
No, building every feature a customer could ever want is not really a bad idea, given that the new FogBugz has a new plugin system! I suspect Joel will be adding stuff missing via the plugin architecture one piece at a time and thus removing reasons for customers not to choose their product.
I for one have certainly seen people choose an inferior product, just because it had one shiny feature - even though it didn't work right.
Using a plugin system to add such features is a rather cool solution to the problem.
Secondly, regarding how Joel apparently wants to move to a sales force-driven company. Wow. Did he say that? I don't think so! There is a big difference between being "sales force-driven" and actually trying to sell your product.
So far, Joel has been able to rely on word of mouth to sell his products. We all fell for them. CityDesk, anyone? It was a cool personal blog thingy (before online blogging tools were invented), but don't try using it as a CMS, just hoping it will eventually grow the features you need. His blog Joel On Software is very popular among developers and I'm sure all his fanboys tried to get their companies to buy FogBugz. Well, at least they all got their bosses to start using bug tracking! And consider FogBugz at the same time.
But, Joel has pretty much said what he has to say. Anything new will be torn apart by the new kids on the blogging block. So his sales machine is coming to a halt. At the same time, his software is getting more and more mature and thus can start to go after the entreprises, that only want big names and sales reps that actually come and visit them etc. We are talking proper business here, not that web stuff you all think is the real world!
Hiring sales people will prove difficult. What makes a good sales person? Snake oil selling qualities (in large quantities)? Heck if I know. And according to Joel, he doesn't really know either.