Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Early March Update

yup recently update from Official Agloco Blog

Here are a couple of AGLOCO updates in response to the questions Members have been asking:

Website Changes: As some of you have noted, the AGLOCO website has made a few changes this week based on Member suggestions.

For instance, on each Member’s referral signup page, the “Blogs Around the World” have been eliminated to reduce the possibility that a referral might be lost to an external site. Clicking on each language in “Blogs Around the World” now brings you to the relevant section of the Member blog page, instead of to a single pre-determined blog in that language.

Additional changes are being considered as well, and I will keep you posted on those changes as they occur.

Communication: One recurring request is ‘better network communication between Members’. I have commented more than once that AGLOCO will add many forms of communication between Members (including an opt-in approach for Members to reach people in their referral networks that they may not know). This website feature will not be worked on until after the Viewbar software release.

Viewbar release: A few weeks ago, I said on this blog, “The Viewbar is currently slated for a March release”, and March 1st is now upon us (a couple of you were optimistic and hoped for a release on the first of the month). I know that the Viewbar will not be released in the first half of March. Our tech lead flew to Shanghai this morning to work directly with our six engineers there. I’ll give you more of an update when I hear back from him.

Regarding your comments about giving an exact date for the Viewbar release: I cannot give an exact date. Again, a few weeks ago I posted about our plan for a March release, and we have also posted various notes including ‘scheduled for a Spring release’ and ‘coming in a few weeks’ (that last one has been up for a few weeks).

The March target, and all the dates we have projected for the Viewbar release, have been based solely upon our Engineers’ best estimates. I have asked our head techie for a firmer date, but he hasn’t given one to me. If I press him, he can give me an estimate, but he cannot be sure. Anyone who has worked with software engineers knows that they don’t like giving estimates because they know problems come up all the time in software development. For instance, we could give you an exact date only to get a bug in the last day of QA that would blow up that date. When we started the Viewbar software we had one engineer working on it. We now have six. We have incentive - we know that the Viewbar release is the real launch of AGLOCO.

Big companies usually leave lots of time to develop software and they miss their own goals all the time. Apple just missed its goal for release of the Apple TV box. Yahoo missed the launch date of its Panama software project by almost a year (and it was the most important software project the company has undertaken in ten years). And let’s not talk about Microsoft’s track record. What we hope to do at AGLOCO is to keep giving you the best information we have.

AGLOCO is a startup. We are pushing our dates to the edge knowing that, yes, if a delay occurs we do not have as much cushion as a large company would. Moreover, if there is a problem in development, we don’t have 50 engineers we can just throw on it to fix it fast. This is why you almost never see this software development process in a startup (they just stay in ‘stealth’ mode until the software is finished). However, due to AGLOCO’s unique concept focusing on the Member, we decided to involve the Members as founders, right from the start. We knew full well this would open us up to more scrutiny and leave us more vulnerable than other Internet startups. But, we thought it was well worth the effort to gain the kind of community that AGLOCO needs to be successful.

Believe me, there is nobody who wants a firm release date for the Viewbar more than me, but that’s just not possible right now. If I had known about these issues in getting software out, I might have stayed in the biopharmaceutical industry, where a single product takes 5 to 10 years to be developed and released (and the dates are subject to many, many factors).

There is uncertainty here and I don’t expect you to necessarily be ‘happy’ with any delay or lack of an exact release date. Still, the question remains: Are you a customer or are you a founder?

If you’re a customer who just wants to collect his monthly check from AGLOCO, then I would expect you just want us to ‘get it done’ fast, not caring how or why, so that you can begin collecting that monthly check.

However, if you are a founder, you have invested (if not your money, then your time and effort) into the business and want it to succeed by doing things well. You are living both the high points and the low points of the company, the troubles and the uncertainty, and your reward for this is that you get some of the financial upside a startup company has to offer as well.

Meanwhile, we are in the midst of our fastest week of Member growth ever. Our daily Member signup rate has grown steadily and is now over 400% (4 times) higher now than it was in the first half of January.

This is an exciting time for AGLOCO. I will try to give steady updates in almost every post regarding Viewbar progress. Ultimately, a brief period of uncertainty shouldn’t hurt the company nor you, the founding Members. We will continue to communicate the best information we have to keep an essential element of your trust intact.

Brian Greenwald
AGLOCO Development Team

No comments: