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A gentleman’s agreement

So yesterday there was a shitstorm and it affected one of our largest competitors. All the stuff aside, I was most baffled by how some other companies in our field behaved themselves.

We’ve been doing this a long time, 13 years as a company, 8 years since launching our first product. There’s this rule, this gentleman’s agreement I thought existed. When someone you compete against is suffering, especially as a result of any kind of infrastructure issues, shut up and keep your head down. You do not use this situation to gain a few customers eager to jump ship.

I am really tempted to name names, but I’m going to refrain. Yesterday, a company I really respected, took advantage of someone’s really bad situation. Not only did they quickly write a post about why they are the best at email, but they even took it as far to send an unsolicited marketing email to us (as customers of their other product) titled something like, “Thinking about changing email providers?”

This is low, super low. Are they really claiming this will never happen to them? If there’s any service you pay for that says that, run away. If the largest corporations in the world can’t protect themselves, there’s no reason to expect some little software startup to do the same. If it’s not a DDOS it’ll be some server issues, software issues, network issues, whatever. Claiming that switching to you will make sure this doesn’t happen again is a blatant lie, and it’s bad juju. Not to mention, do you really want those customers who were so quick to leave? What do you think they’ll do when you go down next time?

All day yesterday we had people coming to us because they were switching from the other company. We never gloat, and we never tell them we’re so much better or that we’ll protect them from this happening again. Bad things happen. I’m sure people leave us when we have our own downtime, it’s unavoidable.

We should all strive to be ladies and gentlemen. It’s not dog eat dog out there, there’s plenty to go around. Believe it or not, we also shake hands with guys at conferences who work for competitors. We’ve had drinks and have even co-hosted a party with competitors who do awesome work.

Spend your energy marketing and competing on what makes you awesome, not trying to win small gains based on pain and frustration of your competitors.