Scrybe, the Cool Stumbler

Scrybe, which I use as my calendar and which I follow with interest as an example of a Web 2.0 startup, got much better at blogging just over a month ago. After a very viral video (which can still be seen at its home page) got it off to a spectacular start, Scrybe made a bad impression in three ways.

First, it fell behind its aggressive schedule for rolling out phases of function. Second, it generated resentment among people who waited months for an invite to the beta. Third, it failed to communicate.

Sabika, Scrybe’s main blogger, has I think eliminated the last of these bad impressions, and in doing so has also addressed the first. Scrybe is now more transparent about revising schedules, and about other things. I don’t mean to imply that there is only bad news for Sabika to blog about. For example, today’s post tells us that Scrybe is one of Gartner’s “Cool Vendors in PC Technologies, 2007.”

The same post tells us that thousands of new invitations to the beta will be going out soon. This is further progress on mending the second of the three bad impressions.

Floating down my river of news next to the Scrybe post was yet another excellent post on Read/Write Web: Emre Sokullu on How to market your web app. He starts off with the observation that the traffic to a Web 2.0 site often looks like this graph, with the peak coming from a writeup on RWW, TechCrunch, or the like.

Emre argues that some sites shouldn’t try for the TechCrunch bump early on. A site such as Dogster should develop its niche, and hence the content provided by its users, before going for the TechCrunch bump. In other words, it should wait.

A second strategy is to walk. I’d say that Scrybe walked, but couldn’t cope with the pace it had promised or the size of the crowd who wanted to follow it. In other words, it stumbled. What’s worse, it didn’t communicate clearly, so it mumbled while it stumbled. It’s doing better now.

Emre identifies a third strategy for marketing a web 2.0 app: run! I’ll leave it up to his post to tell you about it, although I will tell you that his post implies the strange equation: wait + walk = run.

6 thoughts on “Scrybe, the Cool Stumbler”

  1. Andrew, I am a lucky and very happy Scrybe user. I have been using Scrybe since the beginning of November, 2006. I am also a frequent poster, when I have the time, to Scrybe’s forums. Your observations regarding Scrybe’s launch are very accurate. However, I would like to add the following thought regarding your comment “Second, it generated resentment among people who waited months for an invite to the beta”:

    I wonder how much of this issue is attributed to Scrybe versus the voracious appetite of the user community. I stipulate that BOTH may be at fault. In Scrybe’s case, most of the basic information regarding their beta program was posted somewhere on their web site. The user community saw the awesome viral video and beta sign up link expecting to be able to use the product almost immediately.

    Looking back I can see faults attributed to both groups. Scrybe should have communicated so clearly that by the time you submitted your e-mail address for beta sign-up you knew what was going to happen next. The user community needs to understand better that beta is beta and some times you have to wait before you are included.

    Bad mouthing a company is destructive unless is is really warranted. In Scrybes case they brought much of this on to themselves via the lack of clear communications in multiple locations on their site, blog and forum. It also took them several steps and several months to start correcting this mistake. This delay fed the negativity and made it grow. I wonder how much of this negativity was born out of Scrybe touching a nerve with a potentially really great product.

    I believe that as of now, they have corrected most of the major issues. There are still some minor communications issues that they need to work on. Namely communicating one on one with each and every nay sayer.

    In the end Marketing is just as important as everything else in an organization. When you are ready to open your product to the public via a beta program, like Scrybe did, or for a full blown launch, your Marketing program better be rock solid. That means how do you handle mistakes in all their shapes and sizes.

    Remember, if you have a “Really Great” product, it should be back up by a “Really Great” marketing plan, a “Really Great” beta program and a “Really Great” way for the company to communicate to its potential user community.

    Warning: I am a marketer and my viewpoint is biased.

  2. “Sabika, Scrybe’s main blogger, has I think eliminated the last of these bad impressions, and in doing so has also addressed the first. Scrybe is now more transparent about revising schedules, and about other things.”

    Sabika makes a few blog entries and replies to a few forum posts and suddenly it’s all resolved? You might not have noticed but those blog entries have trailed off again, bugs are resolved very slowly, and there hasn’t been a decent update for Scrybe in god knows how long. Also note, it’s been 6 months since Scrybe opened their self-over-hyped beta.

    PS: No I’m not an angry user without a Scrybe account, I’ve had one for the last 4 months.

  3. Simon,
    Thanks for commenting. I think that Scrybe is heading in the right direction. I see your point that motion in that direction could be faster, especially giving the expectations of function, speed of development, and availability of beta that initially developed.

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