Trimming Startup Fat

Over the last year of Performancing, we’ve built some cool tools, posted some killer tutorials and built a community of over 26,000 professional bloggers. Not bad for a company started from virtually nothing.

It’s not been a year without lessons though, and of all the many lessons we’ve learned running a transparent community based company, the biggest is “get your business model sorted early”. We’re just starting to bring in money as a company, and this is good, but to survive, and mature as a startup we need to look at areas that are draining resources while not producing income.

Killing Metrics

The biggest pull on company resources is Metrics. Our pro-grade blog analytics service. It currently has around 16,000 registered blogs using it, and though it’s cool, it’s not producing.

There is no other blog analytics program out there that can scale as Metrics was built to. I remember MeasureMap showing signs of buckling under just a few hundred users but it takes a lot of bandwidth, and 3 very high grade servers to run the current system.

At this stage, and in the current climate of “free” everything, I’m neither prepared to put ads on it nor charge for it — What’d I’d like to do, is to give Metrics to the community by making it Open Source, or sell Metrics to a company with more financial resources that could continue to develop it, and benefit from the usebase.

We’ll decide for sure in the next week or so, but our current hosting agreement ends mid december and the decision has been taken to not move Metrics over to the new servers in it’s current state.

I will let you know more about this when the details are finalized. If anyone has ideas of what to do with Metrics, then please post here, or contact me privately ast [email protected]

Monetizing Archives

With two major feature releases that will see Partners, our up and coming blog advertising network become more useful to publishers without ads yet, and easier to use for advertisers, our focus is tuned to giving that service the time it needs to mature, and to grow — We’ve no doubt it will become a great source of income for us as a company, and the bloggers who particpate in it, but it will take a little time.

One of the things we can do is to monetize our archives. We’ve always said that that’s where the money is anyway right? 🙂

So, over the next few days I’ll be working on putting a contextual ad service on posts, aswell as show our own Partners ads on all pages of the website — showing our own ads will put us in the same boat as our publishers and will hopefully provide us with some valuable learning experiences from your side of the equation aswell as produce income for the company.

Moving forward in 2007

The tighter, leaner and more profitable Performancing will consist of the Partners network, and our #1 blogging editor Performancing Firefox (which by the way, now has around 350,000 downloads!).

I hope you, the Performancing community, will understand the need to trim and streamline our services, and that you’ll support us and help us by making suggestions and letting the blogosphere know that we’re looking for help.

Comments and thoughts welcomed as always.

34 thoughts on “Trimming Startup Fat

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  2. Thanks for all the suggestions guys, I’m working hard trying to find a solution but Im not too hopeful that it will be one that includes Metrics.

    I’ll post when there is something definate to say, but now I just wanted to let you know that im still here, just real busy trying to fix a few things…

  3. Any ideas when the Metrics Tool will be pulled?

    I’d hope for some notice so us bloggers can find an alternative!


  4. Personally I think that you under-estimate the power of metrics. I and many other people found through metrics. And as Glen Stansberry pointed out, metrics forces its users to come back to performancing. While I wasn’t interested in anything else at the beginning (just needed a good stats tool), time passing by, I have become interested in the other tools and the site as a whole.

    Also worth mentioning, that blogrank (which relies on metrics) generates over 35000 backlinks (and many visitors) – and still growing.

  5. I agree again Greg has a good idea, and it’s kind of what I said to Nick back in December, when I first stumbled onto Perf. But I also agree with Greg in that some people do buy mags for the ads. I did. When I was at my reading peak, I’d go through about 20-30 mags a month, and really only for the ads, rarely for more than a feature story or a specific columnist. So depending on what you are now going to fill Perf’s home page with, ads might actually be of value. You’re all about blogging community, so ads for cool tools are relevant.

  6. I’d rather you guys stay in charge of it, but if that can’t be the case open source would be much better. Too many good things have gone bad because someone else takes over and commercializes it.

    If you were to charge or accept donations for it, it would still be great, but if someone buys it from you they are most likely doing it for the income, and will it’ll go down hill from there.

    Open source you at least know it’ll be people who aren’t doing it just for the sake of money.

  7. I agree with many of the comments above. It is a great tool that adds value and promotes your other paid services. Killing it will require additional investments in marketing. Go for a partnership and allow your partners to advertise. Also, why not offer the same ads we present on our blogs on yours?

    Like right over there in all of that white space ——–>

    If the ads are relevant they provide value to site visitors just like magazine ads (many people buy magazines mostly for the ads believe it or not).

    Thanks for a great product. I’m a management consultant and I’ll be glad to offer a few pro-bono hours to the cause. Let me know if there is anything I can do to help.

  8. If mparaz can take it, and add to it, we can host it for free to our fellow bloggers here in the Philippines! Nice!

  9. Its one of the best add-ons that i have to my blog. Check out if you can rent out some processing power and the one who is providing you the processing power give him some services which he can expose to his clients.
    really want to go open source???

  10. I’d the code to be open sourced and released – hey we could even improve it! Then, host the code on your server as a paid managed service.

  11. You can Trim the fat or increase the revenues.

    I’d say this thread has shown some demand for PMetrics which you could use in some way to increase revenues instead of just killing PMetrics. It has an added side affect: by charging even trivial amount for PMetrics you increase revenues and reduce the people who are zombie users – e.g. the people who maybe set it up and just leave it installed but never check in.

  12. I’ve gotta agree at least somewhat with Markus. If you check out the alexa stats for Performancing since mid-march (when PMetrics was launched), you’ll notice that the traffic and pageviews have really taken off. Granted, I know part of that is because you’ve launched other products too, but still… PMetrics has added a stickiness to your site, keeping visitors returning daily (some more than once).

    I’d say this really compliments your just released ad system. Anything that allows you to put your other, more-profitable products on display is going to pay off in the long run. But if you want to make it open source, I’m not gonna complain 😉

  13. It’s the only reason why I visit

    Can’t you slap some Google Adsense on it, let it pay for itself, and this way you don’t loose the traffic that it generates, and can afford to run with it. I do read the blog entries, but only because I am looking at my blogs stats.

  14. With such large userbase it will be good idea to start charging like $5-$10 for n number of hits and so on.

    Put ads in exchange for free stats software

    Personally I am ready to purchase version for $25-$50. I have other software such as mint. Yes I’m interested to see source code as well.

    Whatever decision you make don’t kill it. I’m dam sure most of us would like to purchase installable version.

    Thanks for creating nice stats software.

  15. Another option may be to combine a couple of the suggestions above.

    Bloggers can have a free version that shows a small ad, or an ad free version for a monthly fee. With both options everyone benefits in some way and the hosting, support and bandwidth gets paid for.

    Other metrics and counter services do something similar.

  16. I think pmetrics is an important tool for bloggers. I am equally amenable to the following options:

    1. Pay for its use
    2. Pay for the license to host the service on our data center
    3. Allow ads in exchange for using pmetrics

    What is the bandwidth usage of pmetrics on a per blog basis? What i am trying to get at, is that , i have bandwidth to spare, and i think the same goes with others in this blog, we could do a cooperative venture of sorts, where, for example, we could host the pmetrics of Philippines, or asian blogs, and another party takes up US etc..

  17. Sorry guys, esp. to Nick who is playing the bad cop, but PMetrics is gold as an marketing instrument and a valuable tool for ALL bloggers growing from small to big and becoming interested in monetizing their sites.

    PMetrics performance is still outstanding as it is today and by now you have got so many positive recommendations which is proof for my marketing argument.

    To give that tool out of hand is a very bad decision marketing wise. And PMetrics is a great proof to everybody that you can handle the load. Also publishers will have open ears for such a reference.

    Killing the blogs wasn’t as bad but back then I thought this is already a bad marketing decision because you are killing personalities inside your community and degrade people to being forum content generators. The signal to noise argument is still pretty true.

    Right now I can only speculate about the real reasons behind that decision but I will not do it in public because of my respect for the great work and the great products you have delivered in 2006. But respect at its best should work two ways.

    BTW, the biggest advertising company on the Internet is running some great services, one of them being a state of the art analytics package. Think twice!

  18. I know I will cry if Metrics goes. It’s simply the best tool out there. There MUST be a way to make it profitable? Advertisments? small monthly subscriptions?

  19. When you guys first hinted at Perf Partners, I thought maybe you might be doing this… Run rotated batch ads on all participating member blogs and give advertisers a nice volume price. I’d be willing to give up some page real estate on my blogs for your advertisers ads (1-3) in return for access to metrics. You’d have to do it on the basis of X impressions per month, not click-throughs, as my traffic is low (but climbing).

    So for example, let’s say I have 10 blogs running Perf Partner’s house ad. For the sake of argument, let’s say that my traffic per day per blog is between 50 pageviews (after search engines/ bots). It’s a tiny amount per blog, but overall, that would be 500 impressions per day x 30 = 15,000 per month. Since I cover a wide range of topics, not every advertiser will want that space, so you might have to categorize (based on your tag system) and rotate.

    It probably means retooling your code, but if you pull it off, it’d be a low-cost way for advertisers to get some breadth in their ad presence without spending loads of money. And it might further entice other advertisers to pay for ads on the very same participating blogs. (At which point you’d give their ads priority over the metrics-tied ads.)

    There’s a rough transition period of cash flow, no doubt, but I think that something like this could really work, and would leverage the Perf blogger community as well as give a different type of ROI for advertiser bucks. But the success hinges on proper blog categorization.

  20. I think we would want any open source effort to not need installing over and over for each blog. It would make sense for it to follow a similar layout where you could have multiple blogs on one install. This would also mean anyone could host it for friends without necessary resources.

    I think as open source or commercial, I think it would be a wonderful piece of software for people to take and build upon. Not just because I had a hand in it but because I find it useful every day. I have looked at all the competition and metrics just feels the right way to do blog stats.

  21. Performancing is something I use heavily (more than any other metrics program). Seeing it go away would be a shame. I don’t mind paying a small fee for it, but I suspect a large number of users are “small” bloggers like myself, so making it too expensive would be tough on us.

  22. Provided I could pay via Paypal without credit card backing, I’d pay for a license or two. But my problem would then be installation issues (such as no crontab, no remote login to the server, etc.) Also I have 15 hosted domains and a bunch of freebies. The solution would have to be installable on a single server (on one of my hosted domains) and be able to manage all my sites, just like you do. If I had to install the source on each and every domain, that be a lot of work and would leave out the free-hosted sites. I.e., back to Google Analytics.

    That said, I would much rather donate money each month towards the current service, maybe even cover a bit for some blogger friends who can’t pay just yet. Again, provided I could do it through Paypal “donate” without a credit card. I donate to creators of WordPress themes. No reason I shouldn’t for your great Metrics service. Not everyone can/ will pay, but of the percentage that do, you might be able to handle the difference. Also, I wouldn’t be averse to seeing advertising on the metrics panel.

  23. Greg,

    By selfish I meant my own selfish interest. Open Source communities are the exact opposite of selfish 😉

  24. Why not develop it into a standalone open source software? Like Mint but free! Would make a great server side stat app.

  25. Maybe it’s just me being selfish, but I’d like to see an Open Source community as well…

  26. Personally, I would love to see open source/community. I don’t have a lot of money to spare right now, and I would love to have a version of it that I can run from my own server and keep all of my own stats in house.

    That being said, I think that Artem has the right of it. You should create a new start up to support it. It is certainly worth paying for, and if you had a reasonable fee that I could afford I would certainly budget for it.

    My original thought before reading the comments is that you would be best off creating a version that people could install to their own servers, and then license the source code. I would certainly pay $50 or $100 for a license to run my own copy of it for my own sites, and if the license allowed hosting for other people and charging for it then people could easily make their money back. You’d be out the bandwidth and hosting costs, you would have another revenue stream, and your user base would be happy that control of the software is still in the hands of folk we trust rather than a third party you might sell the software to. The main disadvantage is that you would still be maintaining the code and would have to provide support, but the tone of your article here makes it seem to me that the cost rather than the effort is more of a problem.

    Either way, thanks for the great product and I hope that whatever you do there is not much more than a short and temporary lapse in the service being available. It seems more accurate than SiteMeter, and easier to shift through than Google Analytics or my web servers stat analysis packages.

  27. Oh no! Just when I thought I’d found a system that was working for me after a difficult time with statraq!

    What’s your problem with charging for the service? A lot of us understand the need for you to make money to survive, and it’s in our interests to see that you do! If making it a straight subscription service reduces (maybe temporarily?) the user base, that will reduce your bandwidth costs.

    Alternatively, if you think a lot of bloggers are not in a position to pay a sensible subscription, how about working out a suggested monthly donation rate? In the best tradition of community spirit those willing to sign up may not be unhappy to know that part of their donation were subsidising those unable to donate.

  28. AFAIK, active communities are like gold at the Web 2.0 age. If supporting Metrics is too much for you, why don’t you create another start-up instead of just selling Metrics?

    I mean you could invest some months of your support time, maybe some start-up expertise and then let the created start-up fly on its own, while maintaining the link between Metrics and your Ad Network.

  29. Giving it to the community means killing the user base and allowing everybody to have an the own mini-metrics, doesn’t it?

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