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Fast Product Lifecycles – 49 days; Microsoft Kin is dead

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God she was beautiful

I’ll never forget the first time I saw her. So round and so with so much potential. It was like, seeing the Q for the first time, splended.  Before we ever went on our first date, I knew she was the one. I saw our future, meeting all my friends and all the new ones we’d make together! Oh! Pure joy in expectation!!! Then, with her dad’s blessing, we went out, our beginning! Our journey!!!

I know there are folks out there that do not advocate the “fail fast and iterate” strategy for new products and start-up’s but Microsoft has taken that approach with Microsoft Kin.  49 days on the market and killed.

Here is Microsoft’s official statement on the Kin:

Microsoft has made the decision to focus on the Windows Phone 7 launch and will not ship KIN in Europe this fall as planned. Additionally, we are integrating our KIN team with the Windows Phone 7 team, incorporating valuable ideas and technologies from KIN into future Windows Phone releases. We will continue to work with Verizon in the U.S. to sell current KIN phones.

While the Kin isn’t going away completely, it’s clear that it has not met expectations and Microsoft is shifting resources elsewhere.

Check out the memorial site –

For those who want to find out more about the general idea of the “Fail Fast” strategy you can check out this blog entry from Venture Capitalist Mark Suster of GRP Partners.

Here is the essence of Susters argument against “Fail Fast”

Why fail fast is wrong, irresponsible, unethical and heartless:

  1. I’ve read all of the fail fast, fail cheap articles.  I’ve heard the insufferable speeches at conferences.  I understand that many people argue that “fail fast” just means launch products and learn from customers.  Fine.  Then let’s call this “launch and learn” as well as “adjust and pivot” when adoption doesn’t happen.
  2. The problem is that when you brand something that will be interpreted differently by people who weren’t part of the zeitgeist when the memo went out about what “fail fast” meant then we educate the next generation of entrepreneurs to do things the wrong way
  3. How do I know this?  Because I have met so many young entrepreneurs who tell me, “we don’t need business plans anymore, they’re a waste!  We’re going to put our product out there and fail fast!” [note: business plan to me does not equal long Microsoft Word document.  It means a financial model that sets a strategy for how you’ll make money and spend money] or they tell me, “we’ll launch a bunch of products and see what works.”  That is the old “throw spaghetti against the wall and see what sticks” approach.  It’s intellectually lazy and I doubt many great companies are born this way.
  4. Worse still I’ve actually heard the following from somebody that is reputable and whom I actually like, who has raised $1 million, “we don’t want to raise $3 million to get to the next round.  Either this thing has legs and will grow fast and we’ll raise at a very large price or we’re going to ‘fail fast’ .”  Me, “What?  Really?  What about the money you raised?  Aren’t you worried about that?”  Him, “Well, what do you want us to do, stick around for 3 years trying to build something that we know isn’t working?”  I can’t make this stuff up.  People think that way these days.  It’s wrong.  It’s immoral.  It’s irresponsible.  That’s hard earned money you’ve raised, not house money at a casino that you get to put on lucky number 16 and see if it comes up.
  5. As Reece Pacheco appropriately said in his comment to yesterday’s post, “Know who else you shouldn’t fail fast with? Paying customers. My business has a bunch of them, and a lot more users who really depend on our service. They’re relying on us. Failing fast may be an out for our bootstrapped lives, but it’s not an option.”  Think about that.  People gave you money to use your service.  And they’ve invested their time and trust in you.  Failing fast is to disrespect the very customers who placed their trust in you.  It reminds me of the line, “blowing up your customers” and the disrespect bond traders had in the 1980′s for their clients in the book Liar’s Poker (One of the greatest business reads ever.  If you haven’t read it you should.  See the link for a list of quotes from the book including the now ubiquitous, “Big Swinging Dicks”)
  6. We have taught a generation of young entrepreneurs that “failing fast” is ok.  It’s quick and easy.  It’s a way out so that you can focus on your next big business idea.  Why waste your time on this one?  Don’t get me wrong – failure is OK in my book.  I’d rather you try something that doesn’t work and learn from it then to never have tried before.  I personally think that second-time entrepreneurs are better because, as I’ve written, “good judgment comes from experience, but experience comes from bad judgment.”
  7. But my message to young folks – if you take somebody’s money you have a responsibility.  I raised too much money at my first company and regretted it.  Long after the Dot Con 1.0 party was over and I knew that I personally wasn’t going to make as much as I thought I would – I stuck around.  I felt a moral obligation to spend this money that I had raised responsibly.  The market changed totally so my assumptions were all off.  Goldman Sachs had told me we would IPO in a year.  That wasn’t going to happen.  But I signed up for making the company work and sometimes that commitment trumps your current economic incentives.  Not forever – but for a period of time.  Taking money = obligation and commitment to try your best to make a return.

Written by frrl

July 5, 2010 at 12:05 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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