Tuesday, December 6, 2011

You Never Know Who Knows Whom

Last night I attended the Central PA Tech Meetup hosted at Mapquest in Lancaster. Yes, Mapquest has a pretty good-sized team and sweet new office space here in the center of all culture and technology.

We saw a few demos; one from the Millersville Software Productization project (I was on its board until last Spring), another from a company selling application performance analytics, and I forget the last one.

The application performance analytics guys had a free client-side product that identifies client-side latency down to a pretty granular level. They then sell a server companion piece, which provides the full picture. Not a bad freemium model, kind of.

"So what's your business model?", I asked.

The biz dev guy, slouched back in his chair like any good techie, said it's free, it's just part of the wonderful world they live in and want to make it free to everybody.

"No, the server piece, what's the pricing".

And here's where it got completely boring.

"We don't disclose our pricing. It's Enterprise pricing". Enterprise pricing means of course there's no way I'd be interested. Got it.

Ah. Ok. So really, what's your pricing?

"We have big clients like BonTon. We don't talk about our pricing." You gotta be f**king kidding me.

I'm thinking through the contacts I have that might be able to help this Central PA company, and a few of them have large-scale, high-traffic sites, and a bunch of them are pretty big companies, and a few are investors in fast-growing startups, and I'm literally shaking my head thinking "there's no way I'm recommending these guys".

Looking around the room, there were at least 4 other people I knew there who had great networks as well.

So you don't disclose your pricing. Well, ok. That's fine--your choice. But you lost me and a good part of the room.

First of all, it was a bit rude. Second, you never know who's in the audience and who they know who might be good customers. We're here to help each other and often do.

Here's a better way: thank me for the question, explain politely that for a number of reasons you don't talk about pricing publicly, but you'd be happy to talk to me after the event and give me your card.

That's it--just a little, tiny bit of respect yo'd give to any potential customer while deflecting the question, and then you haven't lost me and the room.

Oh--the third one was Mapquest--they showed off their new mobile app. Nice guys--made me really want to try the app.

And given the free time I have from not offering to help the other company, I'm pretty sure I'll be able to get to it.

But who the hell am I, anyway.

UPDATE: The company is Dynatrace, which is not a Central PA company, nor is it a startup. It's owned by Compuware, a public company.

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