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[dupe] Why Trello failed to build a $1B business (usejournal.com)
55 points by amorsly 9 days ago | hide | past | web | 22 comments | favorite






Thanks, missed that one.

From an internal rate of return standpoint, Trello may have come pretty close to the value of a $1billion company to its founders and employees because it only took one round of funding - $10 million for non-controlling interest [1] - and existed at $450 million. So the pool of money for common stockholders was $225 million or more.

[1]: https://www.joelonsoftware.com/2014/07/24/trello-inc/


Yeah the title of the article is misleading, it should have highlighted the strategy part of growing a business (as in the article) instead of the focus on the valuation. We are probably missing the intention of the founders when they started. Anyone should be happy with such an income, no question about that I think.

> From the article: “We see Trello as a feature, not a product.”

That's pretty much the answer. In this case it wasn't a horizontal/vertical issue, simply that the feature was easily added by other, more comprehensive platforms.


I agree with this. Trello could have added a lot more features, gone for Enterprise, but it would then have no longer been Trello.

I feel this focus on valuations, and saying that Trello "failed" just because a bunch of people who were not involved with the company at all thought they should have hit a different number is truly bad for our industry. There is zero reason to use the words "fail" and Trello in the same paragraph, let alone the same sentence. And yet, here we are.

We need to move away from the growth at all costs mindset, and go back to focusing on building world class products. It is perfectly ok to slow down once in a while, and not just chase the next quarter's numbers.

Trello was a success, and we should celebrate what they did. Not deride them because they didn't live up to some VC's hyper-inflated expectations.


It's pretty insane to use the word "fail" in the same sentence with Trello. Is "Why Amazon failed to build a 10 trillion dollar business" next?

Agreed. It's a very skewed perspective that treats $425 million as a failure.

someone has high standards

I'd like to know how many $1B businesses has the author built.

This is unfairly dismissive. The author recognizes Trello's success [0] and is sharing his thoughts. Is there something in particular he said that you disagree with?

[0]

>Hindsight, of course, is 20/20. While I’ve spent most of this post talking about Trello’s missed opportunity, we shouldn’t forget that building a SaaS business that’s worth over $10M, let alone one that’s worth $425M, is a huge accomplishment.


>It looked a lot like a whiteboard with sticky notes translated into a web browser and an iPhone App.

That's pretty much it. It was an insanely easy idea to copy, you can already do it with sticky notes if you work in an office. I don't really think you can improve the service beyond that; It's a note tracker, it tracks notes.


I've said this on HN before. But this is what I love about Trello - they resisted the urge to do more than just reproduce the sticky note/whiteboard experience digitally. I've used other products that could be described as "copies" that tried to "enhance" that experience, even slightly, with additional functionality that ended up detracting from the core product. It seems like that was a harder balance to hit than it might look.

The thing is that it is so limited, that you'll move away from it sooner or later when you need more structure. I've used it in a significant capacity in 4 teams, and we always ended up migrating to another tool, once it was clear which other tool would fit the needs of the team the best. Sure, that's good for you as user to have an early-stage playground, but probably bad for Trello.

I have to use Jira at work, and cannot tell you how much happier I'd be if we could move to Trello.

The grass is always greener. Trello is so awful as a bug/issue tracker I'd love to be using JIRA.

In Jira you can't even read the issue because half of the screen is occupied with navs or borders.

This is more or less how it looks on a full-screen Retina 15" Macbook Pro: http://pcgen.org/autobuilds/pcgen-docs/images/jira/jira_04.p...


Yet somehow every Trello clone I've used has never been as fast, intuitive or as simple as Trello. You're either fighting against a poor UI, slow animations or in some cases visible reloads when dropping cards.

If Trello is such a simple product, how are the competition failing to make their version as refined? I've never found a single competitor that has made their Kanban board feel like Trello, so until then, I'll just keep using Trello.


Yeah and everyone and their brother had built various versions of that same concept both before and after they launched theirs. But clearly they got the simple and effective part right given what happened with their userbase.

I feel that Joel was a pretty important factor in why it got so much adoption. This wasn't exactly a nobody pitching their cool new project.

Well, one idea would be to track the state of the thing it represents. Fix a bug, move it to done. But afaict, they prefer not imposing a particular workflow on anyone. As a result, moving a card to 'Done' doesn't affect the due date coloring. So you have to move the card and click a button.



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