For some this will be a shock, for others this will be an outrage, for still others this will be a ‘good for you dude’ move.
As of the very near future, AccMan is transitioning to a paid for subscription model. Now…before you all go nuts and start shouting and swearing at me please let me explain how this will work.
First the good news. 100%+ of what you see here remains exactly the same. Free to see, free to consume. Going forward, about 20% will be on a paid for model. Call it the Redmonk model if you like. The difference being that I will be more transparent than anyone else I know out there on the Interwebs. With th e possible exception of Om Malik.
Why am I doing this?
I’ll be celebrating 40 years in and around the tech industry this June. That’s a long time. I’d like to think I’ve always been open minded about change but adopted a sensible approach to what tech delivers to the business. That means while I am among the over-the-bleeding-edge tech fashionista, I’m not a blind follower of fashion. Some things really are plain stupid while others are stunningly innovative. I’ve seen, experienced and enjoyed the value tech brings. I’ve also seen and participated in some of the most egregious disasters. That’s taught me a lesson: see, hear, enjoy, consume…but think. That doesn’t always make me popular. But then I’m not doing this to be popular but because my true passion is value delivery.
I sense that despite this being the worst recession in living memory, and with the real prospect of a double dip, the time is right for me to up the stakes in value delivery. But it cannot be free forever. We all have to eat. We all have to provide. I am no different and am certainly not one of those people who has a secret stash that gives me the luxury of not having to earn something along the way.
AccMan has evolved nicely in the last 4+ years. I have a wonderful, faithful and generous following. That means unlike some sites, I rarely have to moderate comments for some lunatic with an agenda. It also means I get, on average 2.5 comments for every one of the 3,100+ posts I have written.
It also means I have been able to develop a content driven but monetized model that is pretty much unique. Send me a feed, add a clickable logo and you become a sponsor in a totally democratic model that is entirely dependent on how fresh the sponsors make their content. It means that the more value sponsors add, the more likely I will see and riff. But as I have always said – no free lunches. You can be a sponsor but if you mess up, then I have an absolute right to communicate that. I’d hope that encourages sponsors to remember who pays the bills – customers. The upside is when sponsors deliver, I back them to the hilt. So far that arrangement has worked well – I believe.
The time has come to ratchet the game. Let me explain what’s been happening recently so you get clues to my reasoning.
Investor analysts from Wall Street, company investors, potential buyers, vendors and others have increasingly been asking me to add colour to what you see on these pages. They rightly assume that what I say in public is not the full story. I’ve never refused a call or offered an opinion that I didn’t believe, at the time, was correct. I’ve never charged for any of that. But…and it is a big but…that is consuming more and more of my time. I don’t mind and I hope that adds value. Is it fair that I should provide what amounts to a free advisory to one organization and not another? No. But that’s what’s been happening.
For example, in the last two weeks, five vendors have asked me to look at forward plans and services under non disclosure. That’s a privilege and honour. But should I reciprocate by offering free opinion? What I might think may never be acted upon but if it is then it has an indirect impact on buyers. Should buyers be kept in the dark simply because I’ve been asked to view something under non-disclosure and then comment? All for free? Should I provide updates to potential buyers via an email opinion that is only available to that correspondent and again for free? Even though it is flattering, it is not right. It is not fair. It is not in the spirit of what I have been trying to communicate these last few years.
But…again…privilege implies responsibility. It demands that anyone prepared to listen be given equal access. it also demands an increasing amount of my time researching, validating and sense checking what I say. I do all those things so that readers can be confident that what they see here is based upon fact based conviction. It’s a costly exercise. And it is a proven model. When I had my up and down with Kashflow, the back channel emails and instant messages told me one thing: regardless of public posturing, we trust you. That is immensely gratifying.
So – how is this going to work?
It’s really simple. As I’ve said 80% remains free. The remainder can be consumed on a ‘pay per drink’ or ‘Full Monty’ subscription basis. The difference will be obvious. You might see a teaser and then decide: ‘I’ll pay for the rest.’ or you might say: ‘I want it all.’ Or you might say ‘no thanks.’ Prices will be banded based on the depth and value of the content that is delivered. In that sense I am delivering on my public statements about value consumption. I will make it as easy as possible to figure out what you want to do.
Other services will be added which I have been providing but hopefully in a more standardized and consistent way. For example, if you want me to offer a view on whether XYZ software is right for you, then I’ll do that based on your criteria and the depth to which you’d like me to go. If I can’t help you I’ll likely know someone who can. If you are a vendor looking to get help in understanding what users really think then I will help you there. Again, based on a simple, credits based system. What I won’t do is break implicit NDA’s or provide explicit competitive advantage comparisons. Remember, my prime concern is buyers. I will make as much of this transparent as possible within the constraints of confidential agreements. If I am uncomfortable with your request, I will tell you and politely decline.
I confidently expect that some people will be very upset. That’s fine. Contact me and we can discuss. But at the end of the day if you want me to remain honest, want me to stay as a buy side advocate, want me to continue being practical and realistic rather than being a sell side shill which I doubt I could ever carry off – then this is how it is going to be.
Will it work? I don’t know. I am taking all the risk by upping the stakes. This is going to cost me money in establishing the best way to deliver on what I am proposing. It is up to readers, audience, customers…however you want to regard yourselves…as the final arbiters. It is an acknowledgment and adjustment to the real world which is changing at break neck speed.
Thanks for being patient enough to get this far. If you now hate me – I’m sorry…go get a life. If you approve…many thanks. That alone is priceless.