Zoho (and Sun Microsystems) saves the day for Zooomr

Thomas Hawk and Kristopher Tate are in the Zoho datacenter. You can watch them here. Sun Microsystems also is sending over a loaner server with 42 terabytes of storage. All to help Zooomr get back up and running. Thomas Hawk left a long comment with an update on Zooomr’s situation. Don’t know who Zoho is? I interviewed them a couple weeks ago and their evangelist, Raju, is the one who’s helping Zooomr out.

Sometimes Silicon Valley bums me out with all the greed and talk about getting great valuations and all that. It’s nice to see companies help get customer data back up and live.

79 thoughts on “Zoho (and Sun Microsystems) saves the day for Zooomr

  1. I did some research on my lunch break about Sun try & buy.

    http://www.sun.com/tryandbuy/faq.jsp#During_and_Ending_the_Trial_20

    “Q:
    May I change the configuration in order to buy my trial product?
    A:
    No. The system that you try is the system that you would then buy. If you need to change the system or desire a different base configuration, you can return the product and buy an alternate product. If you simply need to add additional components to the system, you can buy the trial system and then, separately, you can purchase additional upgrade components.”

    This is the real kicker on why this program is a little messed up for somebody doing a custom infrastructure like a web cluster or SAN.

    The actual try & buy agreement is pretty straight forward:
    https://www.sun.com/secure/tnb/application/agreements/ClickGTandBtBUS02-06-06.pdf

    But the inability to install custom software or change the “appliance”, yes a computer is an appliance to Sun, not a computer, is not an option.

    If you customize a Sun machine, it’s as if you broke it. And “you break it, you buy it”. I had the same problem, not with the Netra T4(20) I owned, but back in 1999 when I was renting Sun gear. I couldn’t make the simplest optimizations or customizations because of this policy.

    Using Sun gear, especially under a restrictive contract is going to be a pain. I wish the developer really good luck. Esp if he doesn’t have exp with solaris. :(

  2. “Thomas and Kristopher need to write out a solid business and technical plan regardless of status recovering the site and servers.”

    Watch out Bess, I suggested that they draw up a business plan on the first post about Zooomr’s problems, and somebody accused me of “punching below the belt” with my comment.
    I thought that response was completely unfair, but this IS the internet.

    Again, I use Palo Alto software because their business plan is standardized for banks and risk capital.
    http://www.paloalto.com
    They also have a Canadian version which is standardized for Canada, so they got my $99.

  3. “Thomas and Kristopher need to write out a solid business and technical plan regardless of status recovering the site and servers.”

    Watch out Bess, I suggested that they draw up a business plan on the first post about Zooomr’s problems, and somebody accused me of “punching below the belt” with my comment.
    I thought that response was completely unfair, but this IS the internet.

    Again, I use Palo Alto software because their business plan is standardized for banks and risk capital.
    http://www.paloalto.com
    They also have a Canadian version which is standardized for Canada, so they got my $99.

  4. @LayZ,

    “And what happens when Sun wants its “loaned” server back? Loaner implies “temporary””

    Here is detailed information on Sun “Try & Buy”:
    http://www.sun.com/tryandbuy/index.jsp

    You get to try it for 60 days, I’m sure they also give small extensions, then when you’ve put enough data on the disks, and voided the warranty a little by customizing it(which normally happens in this situation), then you have to pay the difference. For Sun gear, that is usually an arm and a leg. I think they may have financing, but what would be a one time purchase on Tiger for a quad xeons and seagate hdds will probably turn up as 10 year financing in this case.

    I had that Netra20 and honestly I hated it, so I am a little biased here. No backspace by default in VIM really drove me absolutely insane. So did LOM.

    The borrowed part means that they have to follow the rules, which means no voiding the warranty though, so that is going to make it super hard for zooomr to use it effectively in my opinion.

  5. @LayZ,

    “And what happens when Sun wants its “loaned” server back? Loaner implies “temporary””

    Here is detailed information on Sun “Try & Buy”:
    http://www.sun.com/tryandbuy/index.jsp

    You get to try it for 60 days, I’m sure they also give small extensions, then when you’ve put enough data on the disks, and voided the warranty a little by customizing it(which normally happens in this situation), then you have to pay the difference. For Sun gear, that is usually an arm and a leg. I think they may have financing, but what would be a one time purchase on Tiger for a quad xeons and seagate hdds will probably turn up as 10 year financing in this case.

    I had that Netra20 and honestly I hated it, so I am a little biased here. No backspace by default in VIM really drove me absolutely insane. So did LOM.

    The borrowed part means that they have to follow the rules, which means no voiding the warranty though, so that is going to make it super hard for zooomr to use it effectively in my opinion.

  6. OMFG, have fun with LOM and Solaris!

    Yikes!

    “And what happens when Sun wants its “loaned” server back? Loaner implies “temporary””

    They will loan anybody a server with money down. They do it hoping you use it enough in your infrastructure and put enough personal data on it not to want to send it back in my opinion.
    I just think that if he’s not used to Solaris or the Sun way of doing things, he is going to have even bigger problems than before. Unless Sun loaned him a programmer and sysadmin as well.

  7. OMFG, have fun with LOM and Solaris!

    Yikes!

    “And what happens when Sun wants its “loaned” server back? Loaner implies “temporary””

    They will loan anybody a server with money down. They do it hoping you use it enough in your infrastructure and put enough personal data on it not to want to send it back in my opinion.
    I just think that if he’s not used to Solaris or the Sun way of doing things, he is going to have even bigger problems than before. Unless Sun loaned him a programmer and sysadmin as well.

  8. LayZ,

    You know, there is this long-forgotten business model of starting small, generating customer revenue, than expanding.
    Expansion requires investment – some seek outside funds, others prefer to first earn the money, than spend it. I know it’s very old-fashioned, but it works. Surprisingly well. :-)

  9. LayZ,

    You know, there is this long-forgotten business model of starting small, generating customer revenue, than expanding.
    Expansion requires investment – some seek outside funds, others prefer to first earn the money, than spend it. I know it’s very old-fashioned, but it works. Surprisingly well. :-)

  10. @16. So they have a business model for Adventnet, but no business model for Zoho? Got it. I don’t know of many companies that spin off other businesses with the goal of not making money, but I guess it could work.

  11. @16. So they have a business model for Adventnet, but no business model for Zoho? Got it. I don’t know of many companies that spin off other businesses with the goal of not making money, but I guess it could work.

  12. @5 LayZ,

    Zoho is not another company without a “business model for generating revenue”.

    The parent company, Adventnet has been in business for over 10 years, originally self-funded, highly profitable now. It’s because of the revenue stream from very real customers that they can offer the Zoho products for free. It’s also the real customer revenues that allowed them to invest millions in their new data center before they ramp up the business version of Zoho services.

  13. @5 LayZ,

    Zoho is not another company without a “business model for generating revenue”.

    The parent company, Adventnet has been in business for over 10 years, originally self-funded, highly profitable now. It’s because of the revenue stream from very real customers that they can offer the Zoho products for free. It’s also the real customer revenues that allowed them to invest millions in their new data center before they ramp up the business version of Zoho services.

  14. For some reason, I had a feeling Zoho could save the day. I knew they were a great company, but this is amazing!!! THANK YOU

  15. For some reason, I had a feeling Zoho could save the day. I knew they were a great company, but this is amazing!!! THANK YOU

  16. Do I like Kris? Yup absolutely. Do I think their product will go somewhere? It could.

    I spoke with both members of Zooomr and got a really good feeling that they knew what they wanted the product to do. That is great, and that made me excited to work with them.

    Why didn’t we work with them? Well a decision was made that Zooomr wanted funding and not partners. Why is this a problem? Its not if you don’t mind giving your money to a photographer and 19 year old.

    I have this problem and so did my team. We talked about valuation and decided as a team we couldn’t work with Zooomr based on their requirements and ours. This isn’t a bad thing, this often happens on initial conversations with investors.

    But we decided against investing because what we wanted to do was take a significant stake of a good product with potential and add all the business related components e.g. marketing plan (Branding, positioning, etc), business planning, and development too.

    As Bess states repeatedly these were areas they clearly lacked knowledge.

    Following on from this I would like to loosely quote Dick Costello of Feedburner as he states (in his blog AsktheWizard) ‘look for money when you don’t need it’.

    Zooomr under the right conditions is a good investment so why are they having problems?

    Zooomr/Kris, I stand by my assessment that you need a team supporting your and Thomas’s work.

    Hopefully things work out, as I have nothing but positive thoughts for you guys.

  17. Do I like Kris? Yup absolutely. Do I think their product will go somewhere? It could.

    I spoke with both members of Zooomr and got a really good feeling that they knew what they wanted the product to do. That is great, and that made me excited to work with them.

    Why didn’t we work with them? Well a decision was made that Zooomr wanted funding and not partners. Why is this a problem? Its not if you don’t mind giving your money to a photographer and 19 year old.

    I have this problem and so did my team. We talked about valuation and decided as a team we couldn’t work with Zooomr based on their requirements and ours. This isn’t a bad thing, this often happens on initial conversations with investors.

    But we decided against investing because what we wanted to do was take a significant stake of a good product with potential and add all the business related components e.g. marketing plan (Branding, positioning, etc), business planning, and development too.

    As Bess states repeatedly these were areas they clearly lacked knowledge.

    Following on from this I would like to loosely quote Dick Costello of Feedburner as he states (in his blog AsktheWizard) ‘look for money when you don’t need it’.

    Zooomr under the right conditions is a good investment so why are they having problems?

    Zooomr/Kris, I stand by my assessment that you need a team supporting your and Thomas’s work.

    Hopefully things work out, as I have nothing but positive thoughts for you guys.

  18. Bess,

    That would have to be the best comment I have read on this blog regarding the Zooomr situation. Its this kind of constructive critism that the blogger community should be full of, not the other kind.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the Zooomr team took you up on your offer, and so they should – not so much for the advice but for the obvious network that they could develop to help them establish the Zooomr business, because as you have so rightly put, Zooomr is in need of a Business to back the current website.

    Robert – that comment (or comments rather) deserve front page attention, or your comments at least.

  19. Bess,

    That would have to be the best comment I have read on this blog regarding the Zooomr situation. Its this kind of constructive critism that the blogger community should be full of, not the other kind.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the Zooomr team took you up on your offer, and so they should – not so much for the advice but for the obvious network that they could develop to help them establish the Zooomr business, because as you have so rightly put, Zooomr is in need of a Business to back the current website.

    Robert – that comment (or comments rather) deserve front page attention, or your comments at least.

  20. I feel it is not the best way to discuss technical detail here in a blog. I suggest Kristopher and/or Thomas to utilize Linkedin Answer. I would add you two on my network so you can gather professional suggestions by posting technical questions.

    We just finish our meeting tonight in May. This is what I can offer. I can invite you two for informal session after our speaker presentation ends in our Jun meeting. You can learn about web analytics and heatmap on the same night. I can gather our members and guests to give their professional input and share their experience in infrastructure, scalability, database and server support.

    Getting the site back is just a temporary fix. It seems like Zooomr needs to plan everything well from product planning to backup recovery. It is not just a hardware shortage. It will happen again and again if planning is not in the plan.

    Business with no good plan is “Planning to fail”.

  21. I feel it is not the best way to discuss technical detail here in a blog. I suggest Kristopher and/or Thomas to utilize Linkedin Answer. I would add you two on my network so you can gather professional suggestions by posting technical questions.

    We just finish our meeting tonight in May. This is what I can offer. I can invite you two for informal session after our speaker presentation ends in our Jun meeting. You can learn about web analytics and heatmap on the same night. I can gather our members and guests to give their professional input and share their experience in infrastructure, scalability, database and server support.

    Getting the site back is just a temporary fix. It seems like Zooomr needs to plan everything well from product planning to backup recovery. It is not just a hardware shortage. It will happen again and again if planning is not in the plan.

    Business with no good plan is “Planning to fail”.

  22. Technically you should be able to tell things will be failing in different scenarios if you do the math properly. It shows Zooomr haven’t mapped things out in scale. Throwing out new features without testing and QA in staging will lead to unexpected problems.

    It seems like Zooomr should work with some experience or successful startup executives from their experience in rolling out new features, managing product releases, QA and scalability.

    I suggest Kristopher to hang out with Facebook team. He is in the age group with FaceBook founding team and Facebook has been doing things right on the backend expansion.

  23. Technically you should be able to tell things will be failing in different scenarios if you do the math properly. It shows Zooomr haven’t mapped things out in scale. Throwing out new features without testing and QA in staging will lead to unexpected problems.

    It seems like Zooomr should work with some experience or successful startup executives from their experience in rolling out new features, managing product releases, QA and scalability.

    I suggest Kristopher to hang out with Facebook team. He is in the age group with FaceBook founding team and Facebook has been doing things right on the backend expansion.

  24. Thomas and Kristopher need to write out a solid business and technical plan regardless of status recovering the site and servers.

    Glancing over the threads I see many things falling out of places with Zooomr due to poor planning. With good business planning including technical specifications, you can control the growth in a more healthy manner with limited software and hardware resources.

    Any startup with critical massive data should write scripts to backup database on daily and weekly basis. Prepare a Disaster Recovery Plan like Enterprise Applications. Consider backing up data at another colocation or Amazon Storage.

    Why do we have to do extra work on database server? Developer always write code on their machine before pushing the code out. Naturally you are backing up your code in a machine or in external harddrive. It is easy to retrive the code. Even if you lose the latest version of code, it is a matter of time you can rewrite the code.

    However, database is built from millions of data and files from millions of users. No coder can restore these data without backups. You should guard the database like gold mine.

  25. Thomas and Kristopher need to write out a solid business and technical plan regardless of status recovering the site and servers.

    Glancing over the threads I see many things falling out of places with Zooomr due to poor planning. With good business planning including technical specifications, you can control the growth in a more healthy manner with limited software and hardware resources.

    Any startup with critical massive data should write scripts to backup database on daily and weekly basis. Prepare a Disaster Recovery Plan like Enterprise Applications. Consider backing up data at another colocation or Amazon Storage.

    Why do we have to do extra work on database server? Developer always write code on their machine before pushing the code out. Naturally you are backing up your code in a machine or in external harddrive. It is easy to retrive the code. Even if you lose the latest version of code, it is a matter of time you can rewrite the code.

    However, database is built from millions of data and files from millions of users. No coder can restore these data without backups. You should guard the database like gold mine.

  26. I like to share my personal experience with Kristopher Tate and Thomas Hawk as to explain why I like to help them.

    I noticed Kristopher Tate from Yahoo Hack Day during the hack. I was the only girl staying in the building around the clock. He was the only geek in other teams said “hello” to me even he didn’t know who I was. So many geeks were so rude and mind their own business. I am saying Kristopher is simply a nice guy. I like to help someone nice in nature with no hidden agenda. Keep it up.

    Thomas Hawk is a dreamer with artistic talents. He is helpful to friends like Robert Scoble.

  27. I like to share my personal experience with Kristopher Tate and Thomas Hawk as to explain why I like to help them.

    I noticed Kristopher Tate from Yahoo Hack Day during the hack. I was the only girl staying in the building around the clock. He was the only geek in other teams said “hello” to me even he didn’t know who I was. So many geeks were so rude and mind their own business. I am saying Kristopher is simply a nice guy. I like to help someone nice in nature with no hidden agenda. Keep it up.

    Thomas Hawk is a dreamer with artistic talents. He is helpful to friends like Robert Scoble.

  28. I wrote a post about my take on
    Positive Press for Zoho and Sun Microsystems.

    I am happy to see this kind of cooperation.
    These actions build goodwill in the community that Zoho and Sun couldn’t pay to get.

    I think this not only bodes well for Zooomr, but it bodes well for Zoho.

    I have been following Zoho Notebook since the beginning of the beta, and I have found the group to really want things to work better. This just seems to be an extension from work on their own product to work on building community.

  29. I wrote a post about my take on
    Positive Press for Zoho and Sun Microsystems.

    I am happy to see this kind of cooperation.
    These actions build goodwill in the community that Zoho and Sun couldn’t pay to get.

    I think this not only bodes well for Zooomr, but it bodes well for Zoho.

    I have been following Zoho Notebook since the beginning of the beta, and I have found the group to really want things to work better. This just seems to be an extension from work on their own product to work on building community.

  30. Scoble said, “Next time, they’ll have funding”

    If that’s the goal, hopefully Thomas won’t be pitching the company like he just did in your blog. Thomas Hawk said:

    And we think we can operate on a 10% cut. And if 10% is more than we need to get by we’ll change the equation to 95% to the photographer… We are not doing this to get rich.

    The point is – if they don’t want the company to make money, but instead simply want to “get by”, they should be seriously thinking whether venture capital is the right route for them.

    Commoditizing the stock photo market might well be a business model that’s of interest to some VCs; but if you tell them your goal is to make as little money as possible, well that’s what’s known as a “red flag”…

  31. Scoble said, “Next time, they’ll have funding”

    If that’s the goal, hopefully Thomas won’t be pitching the company like he just did in your blog. Thomas Hawk said:

    And we think we can operate on a 10% cut. And if 10% is more than we need to get by we’ll change the equation to 95% to the photographer… We are not doing this to get rich.

    The point is – if they don’t want the company to make money, but instead simply want to “get by”, they should be seriously thinking whether venture capital is the right route for them.

    Commoditizing the stock photo market might well be a business model that’s of interest to some VCs; but if you tell them your goal is to make as little money as possible, well that’s what’s known as a “red flag”…

  32. Podesta: next time they’ll have funding. The new version is really great and has a business model that’s pretty interesting (photographers will be able to sell their photos).

  33. How confident should Zooomr customers be with the fact they have hooked up with another company, Zoho, that has no business model for generating revenue?

    And what happens when Sun wants its “loaned” server back? Loaner implies “temporary”

  34. How confident should Zooomr customers be with the fact they have hooked up with another company, Zoho, that has no business model for generating revenue?

    And what happens when Sun wants its “loaned” server back? Loaner implies “temporary”

  35. Podesta: next time they’ll have funding. The new version is really great and has a business model that’s pretty interesting (photographers will be able to sell their photos).

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  37. Well done Zoho–and Scoble for bringing this to everyone’s attention.

    It’s understandable why so many people would hold negative thoughts about Zooomr after all that has transpired. You might even be tempted to write them off.

    But to write off Zooomr purely because of what has happened in past week or month would not be wise given almost every start-up(included well funded ones) have their dark periods. Assuming things go well after launch, this will just be a dot in Zooomr’s history.

    –Zaid

  38. Well done Zoho–and Scoble for bringing this to everyone’s attention.

    It’s understandable why so many people would hold negative thoughts about Zooomr after all that has transpired. You might even be tempted to write them off.

    But to write off Zooomr purely because of what has happened in past week or month would not be wise given almost every start-up(included well funded ones) have their dark periods. Assuming things go well after launch, this will just be a dot in Zooomr’s history.

    –Zaid

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