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Zendesk CEO calls Freshdesk a freaking rip off - Freshdesk responds (ripoffornot.org)
310 points by girishm on Dec 4, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 188 comments

Disclaimer: I'm the founder of Helpjuice.com. We compete with Zendesk's knowledge base.

This is so rude from Zendesk. In case you think someone has ripped of your product, in any way, you (as the CEO of a 30+ company with 10,000 customers) SHOULD NEVER, EVER write something like that.

I'm 100% with Freshdesk on this one specifically because of the tone of Zendesk and Freshdesk. The way Mikkel responded to Freshdesk is silly and childish.

If someone were to make a knock off of my product, I wouldn't tweet at them like Mikkel did. Or support one of my buddies (who is perhaps disguised as a blogger for blog XYZ) that's trolling a company's image, saying that they're the same as Zendesk. Or calling them Indian cowboys.

Zendesk, I hope you understand that you've turned me (an actual person who supports everything you do, and someone who talks to the folks at Assistly with a great and friendly tone) into someone who honestly hopes you loose this "battle" and have left a nasty look in a lot of people's eyes.

I don't know much about Freshdesk's product, but I know the way they reacted was nice and professional (exactly the opposite of how you responded). +1 on that.

Lesson learned: You don't do marketing by bashing on someone's product without looking like an ass (and perhaps loosing a couple customers).

P.S.: (to the Freshdesk folks) Congrats on stepping up and putting time in to create a page like this. I would have maybe included screenshots of the product to further help your customers understand that you're not a knock off of Zendesk.

> I'm 100% with Freshdesk on this one specifically because of the tone of Zendesk and Freshdesk.

Why would you decide who is right based on tone?

Why not on the validity of their argument?

There isn't too many arguments in play. One thinks Freshdesk is knockoff of Zendesk, the other one makes a website describing how it isn't. The real play is the choice of words and how Mikkel("Indian cowboys", the RIP OFF comment, etc.) went on about this, and how Zendesk responded

The customers are there to tell whether they're a knock off or not. I don't want to say anything as I'm not a customer.

I don't think Mikkel called them Indian cowboys - that was someone else.

Correct, it was @cloudgroupsyd (Christian Marth), who promptly apologized and explained what message it was trying to originally say.

Though he should've learned from Michael Richards and never said something that stupid in the first place. He had plenty of characters to phrase it right in his original tweet. But you know what they say about hindsight...

It wasn't an apology at all. This is what he said:

@mrgirish not attacking your nationality only your lack of innovation for product development, if you were offended in any way sorry

Let's parse that.

@mrgirish not attacking your nationality only your lack of innovation for product development - here he attempts to justify himself, by trying to explain what he meant.

if you were offended in any way sorry - here he says he is sorry if @mrgirish was offended - NOT that he was sorry for offending.

That's like me saying "Please come out and have Thai with me and my friends. Oh - you don't like Thai food? Sorry to hear that - will I see you there anyway?". In both cases there is no acknowledgement of wrongdoing, and in both cases the other person is effectively blamed for either being offended or for not liking Thai.

who promptly apologized

Sorry, but that wasn't much of an apology for a racist slur.

I agree with what you said except for the last part. I think it was a great call NOT to include screenshots of their product, otherwise it would totally come across like they are trying to (directly) use the controversy to sell their product.

Including a side by side comparison of features almost gets them there but not quite since its still relevant to the article itself.

Kudos to freshdesk for a tactful reply to what could have easily spiraled down to a pathetic childish argument. And in the mean time Zendesk's brand was hurt and freshdesk got front page in HN. Brilliant!

A one-sided side-by-side comparison does get them there. Only points where the Freshdesk side is tied or wins (or is "coming soon") are displayed in the table.

I'm sure Zendesk does something better than Freshdesk.

HackerNews readers, watch and learn. I'm about deconstruct what is going on.

Anybody who brushes off FreshDesk because of its Indian roots is doing FreshDesk a favour. This is a sharp mind at work and it is lethal.

FreshDesk is executing the standard modus operandi of upstart against an incumbent.

Jobs is a master at it (I'm Apple I'm Microsoft), Calacanis too (remember the SEO controversy, and then the Angel controversy?), and Girish is in the same league. The idea is to frame everything as a controversy, and linkbaits people into discussing it.

Notice how a custom domain is used and it is a mini website, not just a blog post? It is a custom website intended to fuel controversy and will drive a lot of SEO juice from bloggers all over the world. Sit back and watch its PageRank explode.

Girish is also running very hungry by executing a social media campaign. People may not buy from Twitter, but it buys mindshare. It will be a matter of time before FreshDesk gets a good recall rate, as long as it acts heads above other people. The name itself enjoys co-recognition from Freshbooks as well as ZenDesk.

Don't forget, Girish comes with a Zoho pedigree, and this is a company that has bootstrapped itself in India and no one would say the software is anything but world-class.

As for ZenDesk, Girish has stuck a fork into Ben Keepes for the lack of disclosure (by the way, I've been a long time reader of CloudAve, always insightful, even if [I now have to perceived it as potentially] biased), and then masterfully weaves ZenDesk CEO's twitter reply with the overtly racist overtone that cloudavesyd (onya Aussies) "Indian cowboys"-tweet. Note that mikkelsvane wasn't party to the "Indian cowboys" comment, but the way it is put, mikkelsvane sounded like he was in agreement (although to anyone who pays close attention to this type of things, he clearly was talking about something else).

Girish, if you are reading - I'm in Australia, if you could - please don't turn this into a wider "Australians enjoy India bashing meme". We already have a hard time here, and race doesn't factor much if at all in business.

As for ZenDesk, the important thing is to stay above the fray, establish their incumbency, but emphasize their own underdoggedness. Both can play the jingoist game and appeal to emotions.

@teyc - I will take what you have said as a huge compliment. I wish I was as smart as you say I am. When this happened, we considered our options -

1. We ignore the comments. But that will seem that anyone can say anything and get away with it. It is wrong.

2. We could engage in a war of words on Twitter. It seemed stupid to go that route.

3.Write the entire story and present how we felt about the whole thing. - That is what we did.

We did not consider SEO or link juice to setup a separate site. Our blog uses Posterous and to my knowledge Posterous does not support embeddable Twitter widgets. So we went the separate domain route. I was actually of the opinion that a post on our blog is better SEO. I posted this on social networks to publicize our response. I posted it on HN for a meaningful discussion which I think happened and I learnt some good things and some mistakes.

I definitely don't want the Australian - Indian racism debate anymore than you do. I think it is disgusting. We were attacked for no reason and we wanted to respond. It's Monday morning here in India and we are back to work on improving our Product.

Kudos for turning a defensive move into PR gold.

Absolutely right about Australian-Indian racism debate. A lot of Indians doing very well here, and the last time something flared up, the news attracted a lot of unwanted attention to the nationals who have settled down here.

I'm sorry to have distracted people from a meaningful discussion. You have executed well, and this has to be discussed.

This kind of stuff, especially Twitter-spamming, really rubs me the wrong way. Some people call it hustle, but I just think it's dirty. I'm much less likely to sign up for FreshDesk in the future if it comes across my desk now.

I agree. I interned for a company that was kind of competing with [fairly big startup that most of you have heard of]. At the time, Company was way smaller than it is now, but was still bigger than us. (We had very few customers; no one had heard of us whereas I'd already seen mentions of Company on HN several times; they had fulltime employees other than the founders and we did not.) Despite this, any time anyone mentioned our name on Twitter (not even in dissatisfaction), they got an @reply.

Not only was this annoying and sketchy, but it was totally unnecessary. We were no threat to them. They would have been better off doing just about anything else with their time.

Even though Freshdesk doesn't @reply everyone who mentions Zendesk (just those who are unhappy with it), and even though Zendesk is an "incumbent" (in the absurd Valley way where anything that's been around longer than a year is ancient), this still gives me a really bad impression of them (as does this whole PR stunt), and furthermore, they'd probably be better off building their product and figuring out how to best meet the needs of their current customers.

> [...] they'd probably be better off building their product and figuring out how to best meet the needs of their current customers

That's nonsense -- a variation on the "Field of Dreams" fallacy of "build it and they will come". Customer acquisition, which PR and marketing feed into, is absolutely essential.

In fact, your advice is the opposite of what most programmer-founded startups should do. You don't win by having a better product that nobody's heard of. And I think anyone that's been hanging around startup-y folks for a while can tell you about a handful of friends who misunderstood that point to their own peril.

All that this post really did for me was make me hear FreshBook's name again. In fact, the ZenDesk naming spat is more likely to make me actually remember the name. And that's probably enough that if my company is looking for a SaaS support tool in the future, that we'll give them a look as well. Which is assume is exactly what they were hoping for.

For all the talk of what they're doing to their pristine brand here and blah, blah, I don't think anyone serious is going to hold this move against them in a purchasing decision. Bringing in new infrastructure software is not done on a whim.

Eh, I would hold it against them. If they're willing to do shady things in their marketing, who knows what they'll do with all that valuable customer data they're holding on to for me. Signing up for them is like taking them on as a business partner, and trust is a really big part of that.

You should have seen Steve Blank relate his tale with a smile when his Stanford Lean Startup students spammed the faculty in order to achieve some traction. Twitter spamming isn't a business model, but there is one stage of a startup's life when you have to do things that any self respecting person is reluctant to do, but for the survival of the company. Even Balsamiq did that.

Over at Mixergy, about a year ago, the founder of a BabySitter service talked about how she sneaked into university campuses to post advertisements, all the time humming the "mission impossible" tune to keep her in the right mental frame.

I wouldn't call emailing bloggers about reviewing your product (given that that's what many of them try to do) something a self respecting person should be reluctant to do. I assume that's what you're referring to with Balsamiq? That's the right way to do it - get the press to give your product some attention because it's really good! Putting up flyers in public places is also fine.

It becomes spamming when you insert an ad for your stuff in a personal place like on the windshield of someone's car, or in someone's twitter client's @ inbox, unless you think it's something they'll legitimately want to hear because they need help that you can offer (this is rare). Predatory customer acquisition from your competitors via spamming is well on the other side of the line. Combined with this reaction site which uses tactics that would be at home in a political smear campaign, and I'm fairly certain that this is a company I don't want to ever do business with.

Listen to Andrew Warner's interview. Peldi talked about approaching people on twitter due early days to try to do sales. He wasn't very successful with the approach, and then went on to try something else.

    I'm fairly certain that this is
    a company I don't want to ever do business with.
That's the respectable side of you talking. If you have a house on the line in your own start up, you'll be crazy not to do everything to give your startup every chance of success.

On a personal level, I loath getting spam as much as everybody else, so please don't spam me!

Oh interesting, hadn't heard that part of the story.

I don't know about that - my thinking is that if blackhat is the only way to get something to succeed, It's probably not a very good idea anyway, and I'm probably better off spending my time doing something different.

The biggest risk to a startup is that people don't know about their product. Spamming is not a long term strategy, but it might be useful in finding the first few customers to get customer development kick started.

This seems like a bad attitude - that whatever sleazy thing people do is excused by them having over-spent their way to desperation.

> Girish, if you are reading - I'm in Australia, if you could - please don't turn this into a wider "Australians enjoy India bashing meme". We already have a hard time here, and race doesn't factor much if at all in business.

Aussie here. Australia has in the recent years acquired a bad reputation when it comes to its treatment of immigrant populations, for e.g.: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Violence_against_Indians_in_Aus....

If you truly care about avoiding an "Australians enjoy India bashing" meme, then make sure to hold Christian Marth (@cloudgroupsyd) accountable to his tweet, and other Aussies who say things like this. It belies an insensitivity toward other cultures, and we should really address this seriously.

Guys - as it happens I'll see Christian in Sydney next week and I'll be sure to tell him that his comment was insensitive and racist...

My original tweet was an off the cuff remark, I didn't like Freshdesk's choice of name and I still don't. It's nothing against the founders, the product or anything else. And it sure as heck isn't some dodgy conspiracy aimed at ensuring that Zendesk succeeds....

Bear in mind, it is very difficult to convey tone in a tweet. The larrikin in Australia gives a lot of colour to life here, and I'm sorry to see it go if all communication go electronic.

There used to be a time when a gentle jibe in the ribs between friendly groups included off-colour remarks making fun of race. I grew up in that environment in Malaysia. The only problem is on the internet, you are not anyone's friend, and there is no nuance at all.

I understand that my remark was un called for and offensive, I apologise sincerely to the whole community for the comment I made, sorry

Being a migrant myself, it is kind of hard to take him to task.

Thank you for pointing out this obvious PR campaign.

The whole point of highlighting this exchange, the surrounding publicity, the custom url/etc is to raise the profile and get people to pick sides to generate discussion.

This PR technique is as old as the sex tape and about exhausted as it gets. It's the online equivalent of reading "britney spears vs lindsay lohan".

If you want to call it a PR campaign that is fine. However, lets not forget that this campaign was made possible by the statements and responses from ZenDesk and an associate.

This is what makes it masterful. It is a campaign in any sense of the word because he worked his ass off on this site.

However, it doesn't detract the truth of what he said. In fact, even as I deconstruct it, I still find myself siding with FreshDesk. Mind control at its best.

Buying a domain and slapping together a one-page website hardly qualifies as working your ass off. This whole thing is childish on both ends and a crappy website just illustrates this overall immaturity.

Oh, that my own childish efforts and crappy web development would develop this much brand awareness, customer education and unpaid publicity!

You missed my point. A couple of kids name calling on the playground generates a lot of attention too, but it's not the right kind of attention. The brand awareness you tout is counter-productive to building a brand that I want to interact with (read: give my money to).

I'm aware of Freshdesk because they made a retaliation website in response to something stupid that somebody said on Twitter. It doesn't inspire confidence in their ability to provide help desk software. They are spending time worrying about what other people think of them and say about them instead of just rocking out their product. I'm not impressed by that at all.

"I'm aware of Freshdesk because they made a retaliation website in response to something stupid"

I know and so am I (aware). But that's the point. You are aware and so are others. And a % of those people don't feel the same way and they have exposure now that they didn't have before. Net it will be a win. Not the strategy for everyone of course but in this case it's a win.

"custom URL"

which was just created yesterday (12/3/11):

Domain ID:D164025278-LROR


Created On:03-Dec-2011 14:26:48 UTC

well yeah, it's not like they're going to have been preparing to be called a rip off for the last 6 months.. Of course they registered it in response to this... ?!?!?

What is obvious to you is not obvious to everyone on HN. And by the way what conclusion would you come to if the domain was registered 3 months or 3 years ago?

I've used ZenDesk. It's not the worst, but if things are as you say I would have thought the FreshDesk folks would have picked a different target.

One judgment I can make is that the cloudgroupsyd comment was xenophobic on its face. I wouldn't stand for that, defend it or excuse it. If there's any kind of software in this world that ranks high on the Global Village factor it's the kind with Desk in the name. The kind of attitude that permits someone to utter stuff like that publicly is toxic to this environment.

Suppose the recipient is trying something underhanded—does that make it okay?

Edit: correct an attribution.

"This is a sharp mind at work and it is lethal.

FreshDesk is executing the standard modus operandi of upstart against an incumbent."

Agree. Compete.com numbers (no bashing please) show 1.28 million monthly for zendesk to 2.4k for freshdesk. Should be interesting to revisit this in 3 to 6 months and see what has happened.

Can you (or another SEO) comment on why the mini-site is better than just a blog post on their site? Don't they want the PageRank juice for their main site and not the mini-site? Or is the plan to redirect the mini-site at a later date?

A few reasons:

1. You can host a separate site on its own IP (and, even better, an IP in a different C subnet than their main site) and point links from that domain to the home domain. Thus link juice gets passed to home domain in a roundabout manner.

As far as the domain becoming irrelevant in two weeks time: it doesn't matter. If it gets some coverage and links from authoritative sources (ala Hacker News, which doesn't nofollow), the domain will gain authority and that authority gets passed on to the other domains it links out to.

2. Buzz. As larrys pointed out, ripoffornot.com is a great, controversial domain name. That alone could inspire a bit more buzz, which -- generally -- means more authority getting passed to the site via links (see point 1) or via social sharing.

3. Highly targeted. When someone searches for zendesk vs. freshdesk, this domain has an extremely high chance of ranking. It uses both terms extensively and includes a bit table comparing the two services. Good for users, great for bots. more over it's attention grabbing and reads well.

4. Reputation Management. Having an influential person talking smack about your brand is obviously not a good thing. What happens if that negative review starts ranking for you name or, even worse, the term "[Brand] Ripoff" starts showing up in google instant results.

No good.

Freshdesk is owning this bit of bad press. When someone searches for "freshdesk ripoff" or something similar there's a good chance this domain will show up because it's targeted (see point 3) more than a blog post could be.

All of those factors mean that this domain is telling one helluva compelling story. People like stories and are happy to spread them around.

Having it as a blog post would increase the domain authority in Google's eyes. But on the other hand, having a blog post dedicated to talking about your main competitor would probably be detrimental in converting more customers.

This is the best compromise. A separate site to discuss the situation. With many links to the main product site to pass through some of the domain authority as well.

The domain will become irrelevant in a week's time. So where does this SEO story comes into the picture?

SEO is only one factor. The name they registered (on 12/3) is ripoffornot.org - This will help feed (edit: aid) the controversy as well. It's similar to "ripoffreport.com (.org redirects to .com) which is a fairly well know site which people bitch on about companies. On a quick look you see "ripoff..." and you click the link. That's a decent touch in itself.

@teyc, I publish / edit CloudAve, and as such, let me clarify a few points.

- We're definitely not racist, don't have an anti-Indian angle . In fact my fellow Editor, @Krishnan is Indian. And for all I care he could be an Indian-African-Martian mix, he is there for what he knows, not where he comes from.

- Ben is a syndicated contributor, and as such he expresses his opinion, which we may or may not agree with. As Editor, I select which of his - and other authors' - posts we publish, and I try to filter out bias - probably not 100% successfully.

- CloudAve can't control what guest authors say on Twitter. All we can do, and again, try really hard is make sure what gets published on our site is unbiased, and hopefully valuable information.

- Personally I find his attack Tweet and the lack of disclosure of his past involvement with ZenDesk unfortunate. I even tried to make light fun of it, saying Freshdesk is actually a rip-off of FreshBooks, which in turn is a rip-off of Fresh Choice. Apparently some did not get the irony, taking my tweet literally, even though Fresh Choice is a restaurant chain. Go figure ...

- In the grand scheme of things this tweet was a mistake, yet Ben continues to write (mostly) insightful posts, of which we get to cherry-pick and so far our readers seem to like it.

- Kudos to FreshDesk for turning this into a PR coup - I suppose this incident brought them more visibility than they would have gained in months without it. Furthermore, now Ben will feel compelled to actually review their product:-)

We all know that [there is no racism]. This is a stoush between competitors, brothers in arms. This is why I want to check on any unintended escalation.

Ben Kepes is a New Zealander, f'n Australians....;)

I was referring to Christian Marsh, who has "syd" in his twitter moniker.

As much as I'd like to side with the guy getting picked on (Freshdesk), Zendesk is completely right. Ignoring the interface and naming similarities, you can't complain about ZenDesk on Twitter without multiple Freshdesk spammers bombarding you. Sure there's nothing illegal about it, but they're obnoxious with the "a customer of a rival is complaining, I MUST CONVERT THEM!" concept.

(I called them a rip-off of Zendesk back in late October - http://mobile.twitter.com/ecaron/status/123594375560302592 - and it took several days for @vshankar90 and @mrgirish to stop harassing me on Twitter...)

Something about the whole freshdesk attitude really rubs me the wrong way. Not saying zendesk is in the right either. I just feel like I read the whole ripoffornot page and cringe. Definitely doesn't seem like the type of company I would want to give my time or money.

A couple people complained about their product on twitter and they built a whole page responding to it? In it, they respond to the criticism by making personal attacks against those who complained about them? Really weird.

Stop starting flame wars, start making a decent product.

How on earth did you get to freshdesk making personal attacks based on this page? I'm gobsmacked you managed to so severely misread the whole thing. The entire point of the page is to point out personal attacks made against them and then respond to the rip-off comment. Supposedly they did make a decent product already.

My point is, they respond to the personal attacks by making personal attacks against the people who made them. An eye for an eye. In my opinion, they sunk down to the level of the people who were criticizing them. Making a good product speaks for itself, you don't have to have this petty back and forth.

Where are the personal attacks on that page? I see none.

Taking a tweet from someone with 73 followers, throwing it front of thousands of people (maybe more) and saying that the tweet "reflects poorly on the intellectual ability of the person making the judgement" is a personal attack to me. You can argue that they're right, but does the punishment really fit the crime? It seems in poor judgement to publicly shame some dude who's comments would of otherwise gone unnoticed.

The someone with 73 followers made a racist comment. Calling a competitor "indian cowbows" does reflect poorly on the intellectual ability of the person making the judgment.

Don't throw all the blame on the Freshdesk people. Everyone is responsible for what they say - and it appears to me that you're eager to let the 'someone with 73 followers' off the hook.

In an alternate universe it would look like they are complaining about personal attacks on them.

Yeah, I think that's the problem with these kinds of flame wars. Is freshdesk right that the criticism about them was out of line? Yes. Does responding by saying the criticism "reflects poorly on the intellectual ability of the person making the judgement" and "[criticizer should] exercise better judgement and ethics when making negative comments about a company" seem heavy-handed and just as ridiculous as the initial criticism? In my opinion, yes.

I've had people call me every name in the book over my projects: a copy-cat, a sad and pathetic developer taking advantage of people and those are just a couple off the top of my head. Did I respond by calling those people ignorant or stupid or unethical? No. I just let it be. I feel good about what I'm doing and I keep trying to make products I'm proud of. Haters gonna hate.

The full statement is:

> Passing judgement on Product innovation based on the founder’s nationality reflects poorly on the intellectual ability of the person making the judgement.

They are complaining that nationalist insults or racist insults make the speaker look like an idiot. Is this ridiculous, heavy-handed, and unfair?

Perhaps it is simply reflective of the fact that current culture looks down on racists.

Look, I hate racism. I grew up the midwest and saw the terrible things that racism can do to a culture.

But my argument is, what does Freshdesk gain from going back and forth with @cloudgroupsyd? Beyond that, @cloudgroupsyd apologized but still they chose to bring up this quote to rabble-rouse and make personal attacks against him. We all say stupid stuff, we all make mistakes. Especially in this world of 140 characters or less. What more do they want the dude to do? Become a crusader for Freshdesk? Apologize to them in person?

I'm a firm believer in forgiveness. Someone wrongs you and they apologize. What do you do? You move on. You don't write a blog post about.

He didn't apologized.

Really? It looked to me like he did: http://twitter.com/#!/cloudgroupsyd/status/14253941437406412...

You can argue if that apology was enough or if it was a full apology. But I feel like saying "he didn't apologize" is an oversimplification.

I don't know. There's no apology. Just a half assed explanation.

Taking my english skills, calling someone an indian cowboy, is saying indians (posers) trying to be cowboys (the real deal).

Literally, figuratively, metaphorically is definitely saying more than what it's not. And it's not positive.

Instead of discussing facts, @cloudgroupsys' small mindedness to discuss and expose their ignorance (and what likely shows in many other things) simply, cannot, be overlooked.

(Just to explain the "Indian Cowboy" thing:

"Cowboy" is a term a developer often uses to describe someone who develops something without thinking it through properly, often fails to test, and ignores the consequences.

It's often used like this: "He's a real cowboy - he wrote a SQL query that he tested on his own machine and then deleted data when he deployed it to production".

You are correct - it is an insulting term in this context.)

Cool, thanks for the additional example.

Cowboy coding should have been super obvious to me, lol.

"A couple people complained about their product on twitter and they built a whole page responding to it?"

The CEO of Zendesk made the comment "@benkepes you know what they say. Imitation is the sincerest from of WAIT-WHAT-A-FREAKING-RIP-OFF! ;)"

Even if the allegation is correct, that is no way for a CEO to represent his company. Perhaps he should have contacted Freshdesk (privately) and told them if he thought there were trademark or patent issues, only bringing anything public if they refused to cooperate. If not, he probably should not have replied to the original comment at all.

@ecaron - On that day,I did not know that someone else from my team was responding to you. As a startup we were just too eager to respond. I had sent you a grand total of two tweets and the second tweet was actually to apologize for the inadvertent ganging up - http://twitpic.com/7oh3ly

My point is that Freshdesk's marketing plan (spam anyone who hints at ZenDesk dissatisifaction) adds credence to the "rip-off" claim.

No. The only point I can see here is that you tried to make Freshdesk look like assholes with your comment "it took several days for @vshankar90 and @mrgirish to stop harassing me on Twitter."

Which they aren't. It would seem that you were exaggerating at best and lying at worst.

Poaching dissatisfied customers of a competitor only proves that they're targeting some low hanging fruit (which is a good thing in this case)

Sorry but that doesn't make any sense. Freshdesk operate in the same field and will naturally have some client overlap. If they spot an unhappy Zendesk user surely it is worth making them aware that there is an alternative that may prove to be a better fit? The opposite would also be valid for unhappy Freshdesk users.

In PR right and wrong have different meanings that true and false. Mikkel was wrong here because he acknowledged, supported, and then fueled a competing idea in the market helping establish in some small way Freshdesk.

When you are leading, don't elevate small fry onto the same media frame as you by debating with them. You just give them (potentially) free access to your entire expensively earned PR channel for free.

Christian Marth (@cloudgroupsyd) has a lot of explaining for that ridiculous and risible "Indian cowboy" dig. Twenty times worse because he doubled down on it while backpeddling.

Normally comments about someone's perceived race (I didn't know there was more than one human race) is reserved for idiots who get their education about the world from tv.

The indian cowboy slur against Freshdesk is beyond ignorant. Especially for a technie. They're usually pretty good for researching.

Maybe Christian Marth should learn indians invented counting, the pentium chip, hotmail, fiber optics and lots of other things without which our ability to bask in our own glory is not as possible.

If they're not perfect, but as we can see from Zendesk, neither are others.

Thanks downvoters, your hatering feeds my loving. :)

Wikipedia: Smith came up with the idea for anonymous web-based email in 1995, and worked with his colleague at Apple, Bhatia, to found the company.

Is "Indian cowboy" an insult? Makes them sound like Bollywood badasses to me.

Here in the UK it's used to refer to builders/plumbers/etc who do bad work while claiming to be proficient.


Zendesk should've left this alone. I can't even fathom why they'd start. The products don't look alike. They are takes on the same name, help / support desk, which is a standard name.

I don't want to rag on Zendesk. I've been using them for years. But with stupid remarks like this, their incredibly slow / almost non-existent development on the product, and lackluster support have me keeping an eye out for replacements.

Kind of dangerous with stuff like Assistly looming out there.

That said, I'm not sure an entire domain name was warranted for this. I thought it was just a blog post at first.

If you're on the right track, competitors are going to rip you off.

If you're on the right track, competitors are going to try to poach your customers.

If you're on the right track, some competitors are going to talk trash about you when they think no one's looking. Or even when everyone's looking! Using profanity in their Twitter feeds, even!

But just because you're on the right track doesn't mean you can't derail; take the high road and let your customers decide. How you deal with unethical competitors is just one mettle-proving battle in a much larger campaign.

I sympathize with Zendesk, but there are times where it's wiser to just let your tongue bleed out. Let that extra salt sustain you for the more important battles ahead.

How is FreshDesk ripping off or poaching the customers of ZenDesk?

Last time I checked, it was people connected to ZenDesk who are the one's talking trash.

> How is FreshDesk ripping off or poaching the customers of ZenDesk?

Read some of the other comments in this thread.

> Ignoring the interface and naming similarities, you can't complain about ZenDesk on Twitter without multiple Freshdesk spammers bombarding you.

Last time I checked, having a feature list where you compare your product with theirs, complete with little green ticks and all, it probably means your software is playing in the same space as theirs. That's the real essence of the "rip off" portion of the accusation.

Copying your competitors features... well, that happens a lot. Copying their name and their features, and then acting surprised when people call you on it? That's pretty much textbook douchebaggery.

But the copying doesn't stop there, because they even copied the pricing structure!

And then they act all upset when they get accused of copying.

As for the racially inflamatory remarks... go check the last big discussion on hacker news about the state of the Indian education system. The Indians themselves say that cheating is blatant and pervasive. So while that kind of strawman argument doesn't do much for the intellectual quality of the argument.... you shouldn't complain about being stereotyped if what you are doing conforms exactly to the stereotype.

In other words, if the shoe fits, wear it. If not, then throw it.

"The Indians themselves say that cheating is blatant and pervasive." - how does that give one a license to call someone a 'rip-off'. Aren't americans cribbing of 'lack of culture' in America? So shoudl the world start calling them names,. "In other words, if the shoe fits, wear it. If not, then throw it." - But DO NOT throw it on other's face.

You don't get it. That they were blatantly ripping off someone else's software, and THAT is what gives them the right to label them a rip off.

Everything else is just smoke and mirrors, where the Freshdesk guys are trying to pretend that it is all about name calling, it isn't. Based only on what they themselves say, it is obvious that Freshdesk is a copy of Zendesk.

The help desk field is crowded. A quick search reveals that at least half a dozen of the large number of companies in that space have "desk" in their name. Any analyst that thinks that putting "desk" in the name of a help desk product is a "blatant attempt to piggyback" off of another help desk product with "desk" in the name is an idiot or is being paid to make that observation. (In this case, it was the latter, although that doesn't preclude the former).

This might be a good lesson in don't feed the monster so it gets more attention.

When the big guy talks smack about a presumably smaller guy, it's because they're threatened?

Who cares if their pricing is a rip off, it's good for Zendesk if Freshdesk is a ripoff, because no one will use it. By saying and doing nothing Freshdesk could spiral into a blackhole of me never hearing about it.

Instead Zendesk put Freshdesk on it's own level by talking about it as an equal.

Zendesk used it's brand power to legitimize Freshdesk as an option just by talking about them like this.

Instead of never seeing Freshdesk, I checked out a Zendesk competitor because of Zendesk, with more than normal scrutiny. One feature I now like about Freshdesk is that it manages multiple SLA's.

P.S., I use neither Zendesk or Freshdesk.

Exactly. Before this I'd never heard of either one of them. Probably hard to keep in mind from the inside, but for most tech companies, almost nobody knows you exist. Certainly less than that number know about any of your smaller competitors.

>Who cares if their pricing is a rip off

yea, I read it that way at first but I don't think that is what they are saying. "Knockoff" is probably what they meant.

Fair, but we could find things zendesk is a knock off of, no?

Maybe some folks start to believe their own legend too much. Originality and innovation is far rarer than we'd like to think.

Looks like I won't be using either of these products.

Think of all that could have been accomplished on the product had they not been squabbling and setting up websites to argue with one another.

No one comes out on top in situations like this. I think it's best to end it with something like: "I'm sorry you feel that way. We'll let the customers decide."

Actually, this should increase the number of trials and customers for Freshdesk.

It's like playing chess. Zendesk made a bad move and Freshdesk used that move to respond brilliantly.

I'm sure it will. It doesn't change my perception of them. In my opinion, anyone who thinks taking the time to create a web page for an argument or who thinks a product in the same field with a similar name is a copycat doesn't care about me, the customer.

They should be spending their time improving the product, coming up with new ideas, or responding to legitimate support inquiries.

Neither of these companies showed any "brilliant" response. Both end up looking bad.

You realize that it probably took FreshDesk maybe 2 hrs to create that page with the intention of defending the credibility of their reputation?

And at the same time, by picking (or rather extending) a fight with the industry leader, they are gaining lots of visibility for their product.

Was it worth it for FreshDesk to put in the 2 hours to defend their reputation? Of course. How is that not brilliant?

Sure. You can argue the publicity was worth something but I am certainly turned off by the way they went about it.

They could have mockingly made a fo-ZenDesk logo or any number of other things that didn't make it look like they are on the defensive.

Either way, as a customer I am more concerned about either of these companies using ANY of their time on this. Regardless of how much time they spent, it reflects on where their priorities lie.

I agree. Guy Kawasaki suggests companies should pick fights with better known rivals. Apple vs. IBM back in the day is a perfect example.

I now know who Freshdesk is (didn't before) and might consider them in the future. We used to use Zendesk but found it too expensive for our needs. Plug: we use Tender.

> They should be spending their time improving the product, coming up with new ideas, or responding to legitimate support inquiries.

Oh, that's silly. Writing up and posting a small 1-page website did not take any time at all away from "coming up with new ideas, or responding to legitimate support inquiries".

It's fine if you don't like it, but don't act like they were somehow derelict in their normal duties by making this.

The amount of time spent in this specific instance is irrelevant. The fact that they were interested enough to put any effort into such a trivial argument and the way they responded is the issue.

This kind of response is a double-edged sword. The majority of comments in this thread seem to support the idea as a marketing ploy and that is fine. However, the other side of damaging the company's reputation & culture needs to be considered.

I do not want to deal with companies who make it a common practice to respond to slight arguments with long posts and websites instead of dealing with more important support issues, features, and bug fixes.

Time is a tradeoff. It's a finite resource that needs to be used wisely. It reflects poorly on your company (especially an early stage startup) when you publicly spend it doing things like this.

If either of these companies are serious about their products they would not be spending time responding to trivialities like this and would let the customers and product speak for themselves.

> anyone who thinks taking the time to create a web page for an argument

It's marketing, pure and simple. And if you think any company that spends time/money on marketing/PR doesn't care about you, the customer, you're going to have to have trouble finding any companies you want to give your money to.

If we had to pick a loser here, I'd still go with Zendesk.

Nah, this is like playing chess on the wrong board. It's a waste of time and no one gets anything worthwhile accomplished.

Seriously? Creating that page just got Freshdesk on the HN homepage and hurt Zendesk's reputation very badly. That's a twofer in my book.

The fact that Zendesk is using "analyst" payola smacks of the worst practices of four quadrant research firms and enterprise software. "Want to the upper-right quadrant? Sure thing, the price will be..."

So at least in this case, it was exposed and we can properly adjust the value of all involved's reputations.

It's a bad move for FreshDesk's company culture. It's a worse move for ZenDesk but a bad move for FreshDesk.

They took this and made it a part of their company by registering a domain name and making a big, glittery page about it. Also, since ZenDesk isn't exactly a behemoth, and it names names, it's quite personal.

it's just another form of marketing. spending resources on marketing is a valid approach when you need to stand out from your competitors.

with this new campaign, they're likely to get an infusion of customers and cash, which will in turn be more beneficial to their product than the 30 minutes it must have taken them to set up the mud slinging website.

This whole thing is really juvenile. The Zendesk guys look a lot worse here, but by making such a big deal out of it and turning it into an obvious PR stunt the Freshdesk folks aren't doing themselves any favors either. I understand it's difficult and highly offensive when a competitor blatantly bashes you but don't overreact and bring yourself down to their level.

Regarding the initial dispute over trademark: The "desk" part of the name is 'descriptive' and so isn't the strong part of each trademark. The "zen/fresh" parts are arbitrary so are the strong part of each mark. These are distinct, so I don't think there is a valid claim to trademark infringement here. One could argue that "desk" is 'suggestive' in trademark law which makes it a bit stronger, but I don't think that would fly.

If one of the companies can show actual instances of customer confusion, then there may be a case as this is an important test in a trademark case.

The fact that zen haven't filed suit speaks volumes.

Absolutely. And zendesk is a play on "help desk" anyway. Now the paring of those two words together means something and a rip off might be closer to something like "zendeskr" etc.

And of course there is a long history of companies doing similar things. Say ending a domain in "ly.com" as only one example.

It's not all about a name. Freshdesk is an embarrassing copy of Zendesk.

A lot of successful products are copies of something else, and more power to them. The company I work for* had a competitor make an "embarrassing copy" of our flagship product, and they managed to get acquired because of it. But you know what? I don't hold it against them, in fact, congrats to them. If anything it validates the space we're in.

* I'm deliberately not mentioning the company or product by name, because I don't particularly want to start a subthread about this situation - the particulars would detract from the point I'm making.

Does your company's competitor copy even your visual design? What I see here is some bullshit makers trying to promote their product by trolling. This is not the common case.

By the way, I'm not against copying. I distribute my website, multiplayerchess.com with WTF License to let people clone it easily.

Again, what I see here is bullshit. It's unethical, it's not honest.

Yes, the copying was primarily of visual design. Of course, in our opinion, it's a poor copy, but they got acquired and we didn't, so who's to say? I just don't see how it's unethical to try to improve on what someone else has done, which I'm sure is how companies in these situations think of themselves.

Quoting Mahatma Gandhi and then immediately writing your name and title under it just seems wrong.

It is just a closing argument, I don't think it went through multiple iterations

This is some sort of PR stunt marketing ploy?

Either way I'm not really impressed (I'd guess most consumers aren't impressed) by pointless personal bickering. Marketing based on negative sentiment is not effective.

If negative marketing didn't work, we wouldn't have negative campaigning. The point of it isn't to boost your brand so much as it is to suppress your opponent's.

However, it alienates the undecided. Mudslinging works best when targeted to base voter blocs. We rarely see it in product advertising, though, because of this fear of alienation. It takes a very well-put-together campaign to attack your competition without giving them too much exposure. The last effective one in recent memory is probably Mac vs. PC, and that focused on targeting the frustrations of current PC users. Often you see it set up in that David vs. Goliath light, which is what I think Freshdesk is trying to do here.

This however, isn't marketing. Or, at least, didn't start that way. It started with what you said: pointless personal bickering. There's no reason for it and Zendesk should probably have never have brought up Freshdesk in the first place, negative comments or not. Freshdesk took it as an opportunity to do a compare/contrast while people were paying attention. I'm guessing it has zero effect on sales in the long run, though.

(Personally, I'm now even more glad with our choice of using Assistly.)

Being first is worthless in and off itself. Execution and customer service are what counts. If you are:

a) an entrepreneur; and

b) think that "rip-offs" like this one are in some way unethical...

... you need to get your head out of your ass, ASAP!

Taking other peoples' great ideas and applying them to make your own product even better is not called "ripping somebody off". That process is called "business".

Interestingly enough, Freshdesk apparently got started when Zendesk raised their prices - and a comment on HN about how this created a market for a cheaper competitor gave them the initial idea. So, at least partly a rip-off in my book.

Source: http://blog.freshdesk.com/the-freshdesk-story-how-a-simple-c...

Just to point out this was posted to HN by Girish Mathrubootham himself (the Founder/CEO of FreshDesk).

It's worthy of debate, but we'll all feeding this PR stunt (and if some people feel Girish is a troll, then you're feeding a troll too).

And usually it's considered 'poor form' to submit your own stuff to HN.

OK - here goes....

My tweet, "“Seems to me that #Freshdesk is an unethical troll trying to cash in on #Zendesk‘s good name. But that could just be me….”" was an off the cuff remark. I still think Freshdesk is trying to leverage Zendesk's brand but hey, hat's just my opinion. I do note that other folks in here have commented on the similartiies between the two products, I've reached out to Freshdesk asking to ommuncate with them to review their product - am looking forward to comparing them with Zendesk.

The image on Freshdesk's site showing a Zendesk post with my name on it actually relates to a CloudCamp that Zendesk was helping to spread the message about earlier this year. I run CloudCamps in aus/nz (for free, as in gratis, voluntary, unpaid). So that image is kind of irrelevant - it's kind of like saying that a Red Cross volunteer is somehow in the pocket of a large corporate that sponsors the Red Cross.

That said I did do some writing for Zendesk for their blog - around a year or so ago and not since then. So saying I'm a paid blogger for zendesk is kind of like saying I'm an advocate for mcdonalds since I worked there when I was 15. And for anyone who really cares, I have possibly the most complete disclosure statement of current and past engagements - feel free to cross check any other comments I make... http://www.diversity.net.nz/diversity_analysis/ben_kepes_dis...

Finally, in relation to the comments from Christian Marth about he country of origin of the Freshdesk founders - that I obviously don't condone. Those who know me will see (from the size of my nose if nothing else) that I'm Jewish. My mother spent time in a concentration camp and my Grandfather was murdered by the Nazis because he was Jewish - with that background it's unlikely that I'd be a candidate for pulling the race card.


This whole spat just highlights one of those truths that's evident to those in the industry:

There is no such thing as a good idea, only good execution.

Being first doesn't count for anything. Having a vaguely similar name doesn't count for anything. In the end, only how well your product works, how many users you can attract and retain, and how much value it provides matter.

There is such a thing as a good idea, it's just not very defensible, because once it appears to be working well as a business, the copycats come out of the woodwork.

The whole thing is completely overblown (intentionally so and calculated, of course, by Freshdesk) and was very unnecessary to begin with (on Zendesk's part).

As an Indian-started helpdesk software company ourselves, the 'Indian cowboy' comment raised our brows a bit. It was very unfortunate. But then I realised it was said by a relative nobody. That didn't stop it being used to inflame the situation, though.

Disclosure: I'm from Kayako.com, competitor, the original Original helpdesk and bemused bystander ;-)

We all should realize it's Twitter, home of public flame wars.

Agreed. That comment was from a bystander and Freshdesk pulled it into the story to sensationalize.

Yes, I remember back in 2005 when there was Kayako, Cerberus, Activecampaign, Request Tracker and PHP Ticket. All required self-hosting of files and maintenance. A cloud based helpdesk just wasn't an option.

In the end, customers will select technology that fits their needs. Those needs may be completely technical in nature but more and more, customers are making decisions about technology vendors based on the ethics and relationship with that company.

Nice to see you contribute this thread.

Ditto! I seem to bump into you everywhere. The Internet is a small place.

> customers are making decisions about technology vendors based on the ethics and relationship with that company

Indeed. In such a crowded space with plenty of the same feature-wise, there is no doubt that the personality of a company (in this case, conveyed over social media) is going to play this kind of role.

PS: We were doing SaaS in 2005 :-)

Hey girish,

Can you write a post in a week to let us know how many customers you gained from this? If you can find out how many came from ZenDesk, even better.

If you think that will help the HN community,I will. I have another post almost ready where I wanted to share my Series A fundraising experience . But then this happened!

Hey, look, Ad Hominems on a domain name registered for the express purpose of an internet flame war between two competitors! It must be Sunday.

I wonder if these tactics actually have a measurable impact on sales?

Even if they did it will simply be a short lived bump unless the product and service is measurably better. If it is then in the long run it shouldn't matter either way.

However, I do think their criticisms of Zendesk and their paid blogger's method of product 'evangelism' are fair and they have every right to take their shot and fire back a bit. It's all good, the better product development team will most likely win either way.


You sure are pushing your product hard. Drama attracts attention, which you then direct towards your sign-up page. Kind of sleazy.

Seems all the 'drama' came from Zendesk's paid blogger. If you don't want the other team to score with the ball, don't hand them the ball.

Oh FFS, and for the millionth time. I am NOT Zendesk's paid blogger"


are you trying to do a clinton by using "am"? can you unequivocally say "i was not a zendesk paid blogger"?

"Rip-off"? It's a help desk service for Pete's sake, not the Xerox GUI or the Page-rank. If Freshdesk can deliver the same value to customers for a fraction of Zendesk's cost, kudos to them.

They're all freaking rip offs of Request Tracker. :)

I wonder if Zendesk wants to reply to that. :P

Great response. :)

I will be reminded of this incident every time i see the Zendesk logo when i submit a ticket on a site that uses them.

What an awful way to lose respect and damage credibility.

If desk part of the name is Zendesk's issue. There exist multi billion companies with desk in their name (Autodesk) much before anyone thought of Zendesk. Freshdesk really did good with their response. I never heard of them before and now anyone talks about Zendesk, I will remember Freshdesk.

All I want to know is how this got to be the top story on HackerNews. Its a blatant PR grab on one side, and borderline infantile on the other.

Yuck on both counts.

All I see are a bunch of self-promotional trolls, on both sides of the "issue".

Is setting up an entire website really a proportionate response to a dumb tweet? (Obviously, it is if you're stirring up controversy).

Seriously, guys... don't feed the trolls. You should know better than this.

What's wrong with self promotion? Who else is going to promote you for free?

What's wrong with self promotion?

It can make the signal-to-noise ratio unbearable. It cheapens the community, and makes it less interesting and useful.

Who else is going to promote you for free?

People who genuinely like your product. It's even better than free, they're paying you money.

Related discussion from when this company launched almost a year ago: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2341454

I like how MRGirish admits that FreshDesk wouldn't exist if it wasn't for ZenDesk. Doesn't that prove the point?

So my question for FreshDesk is this ... How is your service more innovative than ZenDesk?

smoyer - When I said that, I was referring to this http://blog.freshdesk.com/the-freshdesk-story-how-a-simple-c... HN Discussion is here - http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2340732

Here's my question: HOW THE FUCK DOES THAT MATTER.

They are a business, they want to make money. Consumers will choose whichever product they prefer. Everybody wins. End of story.

Bottom line is who cares? It doesn't have to be a help desk revolution if switching customers like it better and if they don't then it will probably flame out and die.

Freshdesk is a cheap clone. I've tried it.

Once all the dust settles, it will be clear that Freshbooks IS a complete rip-off of Zendesk. 'RipoffOrNot.org'... errrm yes. You could think of worse products to rip off, so in that sense they've done well.

I'm not going to point out the obvious stolen elements. Anyone can see the app is not just inspired, but clearly deliberately copied. They've also spent a lot of time reading all the feature requests on the Zendesk forums. There is also an import feature from only one competing helpdesk product. Guess which one.

At the end of the day, Freshdesk is built exactly like any Zoho product (Girish worked for Zoho). And based on how it feels it might as well be a Zoho product: feature wise it ticks a heap of boxes and it's low cost. But to live with it has many limitations that won't stand up in actual real life, as in this case, the running of a help desk. It's seriously lacking workflow, custom widgets, the 100+ 3rd party integrations, and plenty more settings and customizations that make Zendesk what it is.

Zendesk has many decent alternatives but Freshdesk isn't one of them. If you're actually considering Freshdesk there are a huge amount of alternatives including freemium ones. Mojo Helpdesk comes to mind but really the web is full of them.

Absolutely a rip-off, but Zendesk was stupid to comment on it.

Very well executed response. If they can execute that well on this I can imagine that they are even better on product development and customer service.

I don't understand the comments against their response. I find shameful that a paid blogger tweet against a competitor with a subjective attack without disclosing the conflict of interest and that the guy paying the blogger chimes in insulting the competitor.

And Ghandi's quote at the end fit so well, I am still smiling :)

Gandhi, not Ghandi ;-) A very common mistake.


It's kind of irrelevant, since both services are handily beaten by Assistly.

Well, Assistly before they got bought and couldn't keep their service up.

Any startup worth its passion will use these opportunities to grab attention (you will be a dumb fool if you don't). So arguing whether Freshdesk is right vs. wrong in putting up this site doesn't really mean a lot. The only person who has lost credibility in this entire episode is Ben Kepes (ofcourse he started the fire).

There's a political saying that should be heeded, "never attack downward."

You risk more by attacking downward and you have less to gain.

I was with them up until the quote at the end. At best, it's disputed[1]. It's strange how one small oversight took the wind of the entire argument's sail (so to speak).

[1] http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Mohandas_Karamchand_Gandhi#Disp...

As CEO of another Indian startup, I am furious that anybody would drag nationality into this. There are no boundaries on Internet, and certainly Girish rightly says that commenting on nationality simply reflects poorly on his own maturity level.

Aren't most of the products rip-off in some sense? Take Apple, Google, Yahoo or any other company out there. Rarely, if ever, a company comes up with something totally new and innovative that it doesn't resemble anything else in the market. A new category, that is. ZenDesk didn't invent helpdesk system. Instead, like all other companies, they are evolving and perfecting helpdesk systems. FreshDesk is also an attempt at this, (and so is our product Visual Website Optimizer for A/B testing tools).

I wish companies compete in a professional and respectful way, this war of words simply disgusts me.

Zendesk CEO was stupid for paying them attention.

Freshdesk is SCUM. This kind of strategy, of generating controversy and creating "noise" around your company is rooted in the "there is no such thing as bad publicity" belief. It's immoral, and ungentlemanly.

And yes, it is very common with 3rd world companies. I've seen it before. Very often their products ARE rip-off of established market products as well (no idea if this is true in this case though). I suppose it comes from the social corruption and "everything goes" that surrounds life around there. Basically lack of civilization.

It would be very sad if the market rewards them instead of the companies focused on developing a good product, improving it and keeping an atmosphere of cooperation and civility in the industry.

So without knowing if this is true in this case though you call them SCUM? Way to go...

You know you are doing something right when people hate you.. Seems like a odd thing for them to get into a pissing contest with these guys. First of all, you're acknowledging their existence and what can you do to prevent them from doing what they're doing?

You must be awfully naive to think that there will be no competitors (with similar features) when you build a product which is relatively simple. If it wasn't listed in bold under the "threat" section of your business plan then something is off.

This is a stroke of PR genius.

Agree or not, look at the attention they are getting.

The sales numbers will tell whether or not it was worth it - given that this is essentially free...I can't see how it won't be worth it.

As for Zendesk, anyway you take it, they have a crisis on their hands.

I have used both freshdesk and zendesk and have to say I prefer zendesk, freshdesk offers nothing substantial over zendesk.

Having said that I am grateful freshdesk is there to spur some innovation.

Wow what a craptastic response from Zendesk. I think it is fine to have a bit of a spar over features in competing products but you have to keep it civil.

I think everyone's still getting caught up in the Steve Jobs-ness of the past couple of months. CEO's are acting cocky, cause that's what Steve would have done. They're calling out people who they think have stolen their ideas, cause that's what Steve would have done.

What they're completely missing is Steve's greatest lesson: If you want to trample your competitors, just build a better product.

I'm not arguing for either but trying to state a point. Putting a side-by-side feature list face-off showing you have more features than the incumbent does not in anyway, prove that you are not a rip off. In fact, it probably proves that you are and just trying to outdo the incumbent. There would be little to compare if both were playing in a different area.

http://fakeoffice.org/ - This is how Zoho took advantage of the words of Ron Markezich to get some good publicity and recall against MS Office.

No wonder Girish who is an ex-Zoho did the same with this tweet.

Seems to be a nice way to market your product as a replacement to the current market leader.

I am Indian and I wish we would lighten up. Things aren't pure as milk here either. There are quite a few Indian companies which ask their employees to use Western names while creating online content such as on support forums, twitter accounts, etc.

An obvious PR campaign that damages Freshbook's brand perception in my mind. I had no opinion of them before, but this sleazy tactic creates a negative image. I think it helps them to build awareness, but at what cost...

A fitting response from Freshdesk.Zendesk has to pay for its badmouthing. They started it and Freshdesk is milking the controversy surrounding. May be FD scripted this long before, expecting this attack from zendesk.

Blame it on me being a dyslexic kid. What is there to rip-off? I fail to understand what is rocket science in Zendesk that any other customer support tool should not have? Zendesk's reactions are uncalled for.

TL;DR: Nu uh!!!! ='''( [Quote comparing us to Gandhi]

I think their response was a bit too involved. They were insulted by some blowhard (CEO or not) and instead of rolling with the punches, they write an emotionally-charged, whiny blog post. Not to mention a name is the stupidest thing to fight over. If you want to see a real rip-off, check out github vs bitbucket.

Just focus on making your product. If you're doing well, some people may turn into little girls and get jealous and throw tantrums. Ignore them and focus on your goals. Engaging in back and forth like this shows nothing but weakness.

EDIT: Just noticed they actually bought a domain for this. Even worse. I don't see good things in the future for Freshdesk if this is how they respond to an affront. Also, why are they comparing themselves to Gandhi? You've got to be kidding me...?

Both sides look silly to me. That's exactly the type of emotional reactions you get from young, technical entrepreneurs. EQ is just as important as IQ if you really want to be relevant in business.

I'm less likely to give my money to either of these companies now.

I hate when companies publicly bash each other, even if it's in retaliation.

There's nothing like bad publicity. I never heard of freshdesk before this.

Use the publicity That you've been given freshdesk but don't overdo it!

"There's nothing like bad publicity." Carrier iQ might have something to say about that.

I agree though, this is great publicity for FreshDesk. May the best service win.

It's funny because they could be co-operating instead of competing and be making much more money by targeting different markets.

Why is this here? How do I downvote the post or recommend it for the "stupid twitter he-said-she-said" category?

Man this is classy. Well done Freshdesk.

I started the day off sympathizing with them because I thought Ben was not right in saying they ripped off the name. But now Freshdesk has proved that many of the commentators here are right. They are spammers and they even spam your Google Docs. See the screenshot here. http://twitpic.com/7p0m3o

Looks like Freshdesk is not the culprit but Google. It automatically adds docs I visit on the web to my list. I think I owe freshdesk an apology for thinking that they are spamming me.

Without much research it sounds like Kepes and Svane got pwnd hard.

Delicious drama. Go on.



This is going to hurt Freshdesk more than help. Creating that site was an immature move. They're framing it like this is an issue that anyone besides the guys at Freshdesk cares about. And calling the site "ripoffornot"? Cheap move. I honestly thought I was about to visit a website dedicated to comparing products and deducing who is ripping of who. Then I saw it and I thought "damn, what a cheap, crybaby, attention whore move".

Freshdesk is playing dirty all while trying to convince us that it's the other guys that are playing dirty. I hope we all see through the BS. You don't win hearts and minds by being a bully and they're being bullies while trying to look like victims.

When I see a company do something like this, that's so cheap and obvious, I immediately wonder how desperate they are. They're also doing themselves a disservice by calling attention to the fact that they've been called a ripoff. People's first reactions will be to wonder why they feel the need to defend themselves so vehemently against that sort of thing. If they're not a ripoff then why do they have to work so hard to convince me otherwise? Am I saying they're a ripoff of Zendesk? No, but their actions have now put the idea in my head. Major backfire.

What Freshdesk tries to do is redirecting your attention to the similarity of the names. If you really check out Freshdesk, you'll see that they copied Zendesk with no piece of difference!

If the Hacker News people need a guide to notice how FreshDesk guys are motivated to draw the attention of people by making bullshit, I'm going to stop reading HN. Shame on you the readers voted this article up.

This is completely bullshit. If you take a look at the website of Freshdesk, you'll see that they stole the design of Zendesk. They probably did it to draw the attention of Zendesk and gather some angry tweets that can be used in such a way you see.

This is the last article I've seen in HN. I'll never enter this website again. Seriously, enough bullshit for a coder.

Time to leave HN alone with the embarrassing promoters and gossip girls.

> If you take a look at the website of Freshdesk, you'll see that they stole the design of Zendesk.

Are there that many different possible designs for a helpdesk system?

Did you checked out the designs of two website? Freshdesk even copy the buttons of Zendesk's homepage. What the fuck are you talking about?

Slightly off-topic: anyone got any ideas on how to innovate in this niche? I am always looking to add to my idea pile :) (See here: http://ideashower.posterous.com)

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