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Demand for fee to use password app LastPass sparks backlash (arstechnica.com)
22 points by latexr 45 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 12 comments



Elliot Management, one of the activist investors of LP mandating this change have long been known to get their claws into "underperforming" companies and insist on strategy change that is anti-free, anti-opensource. They did this around 2014 when I worked at Citrix and got them to sell off products not aligned with the flagship and close down some otherwise great software that was in part free-for-use-in-small-environments.

For e.g Citrix Xenserver (now Citrix Hypervisor) employed a lot of the founders and top talent contributing to the Xen project who being the hipster developer types fully buying into the free and open kinda felt betrayed that the ship they'd join to sail had changed course and eventually jumped ship - causing a brain drain to both the company and the upstream Xen. I wouldn't conclude this caused Xen to lose out to the competition - but the decaying cadence to the upstream project I'm sure was a contributing factor.

I've long since worked at Citrix and I hear now their product strategies and key offerings are "sensible", their valuations and stock prices are healthier, etc - which for the investors and employees is great but it appears this has come at a price of a less-free, less-open, insular monoculture. I don't particularly regard that as a success.


>"But one free password app, BitWarden, has registered a fivefold increase in new users since LastPass announced its more restrictive policy last month, according to Gary Orenstein, its chief customer officer. “We’re understandably thrilled,” he said."

+1 for Bitwarden. It's open source, works on every device I've ever tried, and has a clean interface. I've got no idea why people are handing out 50 bucks a year for proprietary software when there's a competitive alternative around.


I personally use keepass, but could make a case for why one would prefer a subscription tool over Bitwarden:

I feel confident that I could look up a few articles and self-host Bitwarden on either my raspberry pi at home. If not at home, then I might pay for a DO droplet or something, and at $5/mo that's back to $60/yr already, might as well just pay and have the whole thing taken care of for me, besides downloading an app and logging in. That's assuming I have the technical familiarity. If I don't even have that, I'm probably not likely to care or even know if my tool is proprietary or open source.


Bitwarden also hosts and syncs all your stuff so on the free-tier so you get that as well. Self-hosting is optional if you want to, by default it's already a cloud tool. It already has feature parity with all the paid alternatives as far as I can tell.


A lot of "normies" aren't up to the task of deploying/managing bitwarden, so the "one stop shop" convenience of a paid solution appeals to them


Self-hosting is totally optional. I pay for the premium version mainly to support the devs, but the free version has free cloud sync already. I use LastPass a bit for work, and I can't think of any features LastPass has that Bitwarden doesn't.


Isn’t the alternative I see oft bemoaned here that if you don’t pay, you are the product? I’ve been content to pay them for a couple years, hoping it keeps them updating and ad-free. Thus, I don’t think there was a change in terms of the deal for me in this case. While $36/year felt high relative to, say, my cloud storage costs, but it seems hard to me to then follow the claim that ditching them for a competitor is now impossible. Just seems that it wasn’t worth his time for that amount of money?


The article is blaming private equity, but realistically either companies charge money, companies sell your personal data, or companies go out of business. If people want the "fully free" version there's always "Log in with Facebook"

I pay for BitWarden Premium at $10/year, I'd rather pay than get the rug pulled from me.


It's a service that requires constant server support for users beyond the initial purchase, unless they price it to cover indefinite usage every sale eventually starts losing them money. What is their alternative?


This is a fantastic example of why it pays to be wary of subscription software. The price and terms of the deal may change at any time, leaving users hanging or without time to procure an alternative.


There was enough time to switch to an alternative. You could easily export all the passwords and just import them into KeePassX and then either use that or shop around for an alternative. I think it was an OK way to implement the change.

But I am not sure it will be any good for them, because this is an example of how not to convert free users to paying users. Taking away features and make users pay for them does not make you popular and just makes users look for alternatives.

I immediately deleted my account. But no hard feelings about it.


> There was enough time to switch to an alternative. You could easily export all the passwords and just import them into KeePassX and then either use that or shop around for an alternative.

You could, because you’re aware of alternatives and (presumably) have some prior knowledge of how they compare.

But plenty of people were already accustomed to the current deal and had no reason to shop for alternatives. Now they feel forced to and maybe don’t have the time or patience to deal with it in the given timeframe. Worse yet if they are the family’s support person who now has to find, understand, test, implement, and explain the new system to the relatives.

It’s annoying. At least with pre-paid software (or “perpetual fallback licenses”, like IntelliJ and Sketch), you know the thing will keep working in a certain configuration.




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