I remember because we were using assembla for some stuff and then moved away when they started charging. I guess that move didn't work too well for them.
To summarize: they didn't have a sustainable business plan and when the costs got too bit they canceled free service. They say now that they're better prepared.
Maybe they're worth giving another try?
From a business point of view, I definitely prefer to have less visibility but a higher percentage of paid customers. This allows me to create a product which is of high quality on the long term because I have money to do so. And in fact, discussing with my customers, they prefer it that way.
Note that the free offer of Assembla is not free, you get direct advertising when accessing your space.
But if we do small maths and we consider that Assembla has the incredible 5% conversion rate from free to paid. This means that on average they will have for 100 users:
95 x 1GB of "free data"
5 x $49 x 2.5GB of paid data
I take the 50% usage as on the long run it what my personal stats gives me.
So about 100GB of data for $245 per month. As you need a triple backup to be robust. It means 300GB of data to maintain for $245 per month.
It is possible, but the margin will be razor thin if you want to provide quality. It is a bold move, I am eager to see how it develops.
This is another subject, but for a critical part of my business, I want to always have full control over my data and workflow. By allowing people even with the free account to have their own domain and a full backup compatible with the open source (GPL) version, my customers can migrate out without even having their users noticing the change. This is my idea of freedom for SaaS.
We did offer free private workspaces in 2006-2008. We didn't have a clear business model at the time. We started out with a goal to get to know programmers who worked on distributed teams. We supported this for three years, working nights and weekends. However, it turned out that the demand increased exponentially, and our costing and admin costs were out of control. So, we had to cancel some of the free services and ask our private users to pay a small subscription fee.
This time, we have been much more careful with the business model. Some of the things that are different are:
* The package is different. In this free repo package, you do not get all tools. We have many opportunities to sell our premium tools to serious projects. And, we have more and better tools to sell.
* We are using affiliate sponsors - essentially advertising. We are offering cloud hosting services to our users, and we make affiliate fees when we sell them. In the future, we will offer other cloud services that you can add to your "code in the cloud."
* We have a profitable subscription business that pays for our admin and support team. We only have to make sure that we have a high quality service that attracts a few more of the customers that appreciate the complete service and pay for it.
"When you go to create a space, if you do not have your own plan, you will see a field with the prompt "If another subscriber will pay for this space please, provide his email or login". Enter the information for the subscriber. We will assign the new space to the subscriber, and that person will get a note with the option to decline."
So if I don't check my mail someone could bill me for their spaces because I didn't give my disapproval. Um, I'm pretty sure I have to explicitly agree to pay for a service, not disagree to not pay for it.
Good move, Assembla.
Have also used Unfuddle when working with other shops. Its nice too, and has some Basecamp-esque features if you want something beyond trac.
Aint competition a grand thing? :)
The pay as you go is great until you realise you have to pay for each member of the team and each project, so if I work on two 'spaces' I'm classed as two separate users... it soon gets expensive
As a code hacker, I've just setup a git repository with them. They have superb help - cut-and-paste to set up your ssh key, start a git repository and push it to them. Great for learning git.
In this round, we have made substantial changes to the business model. Only the repository is free, so we can sell our premium ticketing, collaboration, and management tools. And, we have hosting affiliates that pay us for leads. Plus, the underlying service is profitable and supports the level of admin quality that is required.
SmartGit comes to mind, but what are you guys using ?
However, we could definitely use Assembla