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Salesforce Buys Email Contact Manager Etacts (YC W10) (techcrunch.com)
107 points by dell9000 on Dec 21, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 39 comments

Quite disappointed in the way Etacts handled this. here I was disappointed on their behalf not knowing they had sold. The best they could/should have done is to say we are selling and we are shutting down. That is the proper thing to do, period. We as customers/users deserve that much.

Why the secret? Especially if the news was still going to come out!

Are you serious? You really can't think of any reasons they wouldn't be 100% open about this?

I have never seen a company post a blog that said "we're shutting down" only to hear later that they got bought. Ever.

Usually in term sheets there is a clause that says the founders cannot talk publicly about the acquisition.

Salesforce can do whatever they want.

There is no reason to disable new registrations (and that was the only tangible AND immediate effect of the shutdown) several hours before you could do it in a much better way. That sounded like a pure fail to me before the acquisition announcement.

After selling? Nope.

Can you?

My point is things like acquisitions are pretty chaotic. Think of all the crazy acquisition stories you have heard this week on HN alone. Seems a little immature to start throwing the word "deserve" around when this could've been as simple as a minor miscommunication. Way to demand perfection from the outside.

A minor miscommunication is something like saying you're going to close down on January 28th instead of the 29th. Leaving out major pieces of information (like "we're getting bought by salesforce.com") is a major miscommunication.

Seems a little immature to throw around words like "perfection" when we're talking about someone pointing out a reasonable issue with their announcement.

Yes. They're not the first company to shut down on getting bought.

Apparently Salesforce is getting their own AppSumo YC Bundle

To me this is a worrying trend, what happens in a couple of years time when users have decided there no longer jumping on the latest startup products because they either get successful and shut down the product or fail and shut down the product.

How do you do interviews talking up how important the product is, why everyone needs it, only to discard it after a short period of time. These talent acquisition's must really be getting big in dollar terms? Because otherwise it all seems irrational.

So why the oddly worded shut down message on their website? Why not announce the acquisition?

Maybe they bought it for the team, not the product. If the product is then getting killed, people that use the site wouldn't care why: they just care it's going away.

Some users might be happy to know that the service got bought out.

Take it in reverse: if they were closing down due to personal illness or death or something else horrible, would you still argue that the users don't care? I doubt it. Customers are human after all and care.

Hmmm. I'm going to assume that the existing etacts service will, in fact, be shut down, and that the team will work on implementing the same (or similar, or perhaps completely unrelated) functionality within Salesforce's products.

If the shutdown message made reference to the fact that they're being acquired by Salesforce, then perhaps users (who may not necessarily read their emails all that carefully) would assume that the existing service would be continuing under the Salesforce banner. Then the etacts folks would have had to spend the next N weeks correcting that particular misconception by answering a bunch of emails from users going "Waaah I don't want to be in Salesforce" or "But I already have a Salesforce account, how do I integrate the two" and "wtf is Salesforce I tried to log in and it didn't work".

On reflection this makes sense.

They could have easily said we have been acquired and we are shutting down. No ambiguity.

I don't think customers would notice, and if they noticed, I'm not sure they would believe it, and if they believed it, they might act delusional about it. In other words, I agree with hugh3 that it may have been wise for them to do it this way.

I also think there's a certain elegance in delivering news that is actionable without news that isn't actionable. It's kind of like the [ANN] messages in user group mailing lists.

Sometimes I put on my action hat and am likely to see things as being action-related even when they aren't. I doubt I'm the only one.

Yep, they could have. They could have also listed exactly what they had for breakfast. But do their customers care?

As an Etacs user, yes, I care very much as to whether they are shutting down or being acquired.

> do their customers care?


Talent acquisitions seem to be big business this last year.

Is this a recent thing buying 'teams' and shutting down the stupid startup thingy they were working on for the last year?

Is conventional hiring talent really that broken?

Yes, conventional talent recruiting really is that broken.

This process may not be all bad though. The entrepreneurs get some liquidity and at least a modest success on their belt.

Story A: "Started something cool. Built a product people wanted. Was acquired by Company X. On to something new."

Story BY: "Started something cool. Built a product people wanted. Didn't quite get the traction we hoped. Stuck it out for 3 years. Finally decided we just couldn't build a business out of it and shut it down."

In my mind, Story A is much better for the entrepreneur than Story B. Of course, the trick is knowing when it's time to move on.

This seems odd to me. If I'm part of a startup team, do I want to be acquired and end up an employee of the acquiring company? In my case no, I want to take my proceeds and go do something new.

Seems like YC is clearing out their inventory.

Year-end inventory clearance sale?

But wait! Order in the next 23 minutes and get Rapportive absolutely free! (just pay due diligence)

Maybe they sent a Groupon to acquirers. "This month only, get a YC startup for 2M per engineer"

Maybe they should be more transparent upfront about the sale, no? Seems a bad way to handle a sale with your current users.

What more do you need to know than the following: "We have decided to pursue other opportunities and will be shutting down our service on January 31, 2011. Thanks for supporting us and for all you've done."

Well I am sure they are entitled to it but I don't understand the secrecy around the sale.

I'm actually quite interested in knowing what type of transparency you are looking for and how it will help you as a customer/user of etacts? Seriously - I realize we all have an innate selfish desire to hear the details of the deal (myself, more than most, I suspect) - but in terms of the etacts guys being transparent with their user base, so their users know what next steps to take - what else should they have done/what would you have liked them to do for you?

Is it really so hard to understand that users want to know why a company is shutting down a service they use? Even brick & mortar places will usually tell customers "Our lease renewal would be too expensive" or the "Sales have slowed due to the economy". All they had to say was "We've been acquired by Salesforce". They handled it differently than most companies do.

Oh, I totally understand that users want to know why a company is shutting down - myself included. Heck, I'd also like to know if they are selling any of their services/IP, who they are selling them to, and, as long as we are playing this game, I'd _love_ to know what the terms were, how much, and whether the team will be moving to salesforce as well. These are all things that I very much am interested in.

My Nit with the OP is that they made a comment about how etacts was handling "transparency" with their user base - and I believe that they did 100% of what I'd expect any service provider I'm with do - give me a heads up, in advance, as to what the next steps with their organization and service were (and issue me a partial refund - I'm not sure if the etacts guys had paying customers yet).

As a interested observer, I want much, much more. As an etacts customer, I'm satisfied that they've provided me the transparency I'd expect of any responsible service provider.

Compare this to how Yahoo has been handling delicious - "Sunsetting?", "Closing", "Keeping up", "Selling?" - who knows - it's not even clear they know/knew.

What's hard to understand is why so many here feel entitled to that information.

Don't you think there's at least a tiny chance that under the terms of the deal, they weren't allowed to disclose "We've been acquired by Salesforce" ?

This is odd. Both Salesforce and their acquirees have been pretty vocal and open about their previous acquisitions. What's so different this time?

That explains it.

good news for one of my clients - http://ming.ly - they're a social CRM for gmail similar to etacts (but a bit more full-featured)

Perhaps Salesforce framed the message this way to avoid the negative publicity that comes with transitioning a free service to a paid service?

It may not be the most sound logic, but at least it would make some sense.

Congratulations guys!

I didn't remember etacts launched this year. Howie's mixergy interview seems ages ago.

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