I sent this mail today, to the Mozilla enterprise mailing lists:
Hi, everyone. Mike Hoye here from Bespoke I/O.
As I mentioned previously, I’m closing down BeSDS, the enterprise customization tool and business around it that I’ve been trying to get off the ground for the last two years.
In that time, I’ve been quite fortunate to have been able work with some excellent people and, ultimately, ship some pretty good software. BeSDS is a bit rough around the edges, but it works surprisingly well considering. The support I’ve had from people at Mozilla, and Seneca College, in getting this software shipped has been wonderful, and it’s been an honour to work with all of you. We’ve built a real thing that really works, bringing customization support to Firefox and Thunderbird, for anyone that wanted to try them.
During this time, however, and despite how much noise has been made over the importance of long-term stability and enterprise support, I’ve been unable to find a company of any size that has been willing to spend any money on it. I’ve had lots of good feedback and support from administrators in the K-12 and educational sector, but I’ve been unable to convince any member of the private sector to part with so much as a test case.
The frequent insistence that Internet Explorer (and rarely, but still occasionally that Outlook) is free, in these discussions, and that my services should also be free, well. The difference between what IT administrators have said they value and what they’re actually willing to invest in has been as informative as it is galling, let me tell you.
I may have failed at marketing my services effectively, or pursuing business leads and clients as aggressively as possible. Perhaps my expectations or pricing have been unreasonable, that’s true. I have other theories, though, which I suspect are at least as true. Regardless, my kids need to eat and I’m long out of runway. I’ll be closing down the customization site shortly and moving on to whatever’s next.
I still want to make it easy for schools and libraries to use Mozilla, so the Bespoke I/O deployment service is now on Github, under the Mozilla Public License. If you work in one of those places and have questions about setting it up, let me know. I’ve even got a prebuilt VM here (prohibitively large for Github) that I can send you some other way if you want to try it out.
I’m sorry, everyone. I tried to make this work.
Founder, Bespoke I/O
I’m more grateful than I can say that I’ve had the support of my colleagues, friends and family while I’ve been working on this. My wife has been a rock, and her love and support while I’ve tried to make a thing out of this have been as much as I could have asked for, and as hard as it is to close up shop and move on, it’s the right thing. I haven’t turned my wife into a startup widow and my children into strangers, and if the cost of that choice is the success of this project, so be it. That’s the right thing too.
I’m proud of what I’ve built here, and the work that I’ve done. And it’s time to move on to whatever’s next. I’m two for two now, managing the development of complicated pieces of software through to shipping on time and on budget, and I want to keep that streak alive. If you’re looking for somebody who can do that, let me know..