Since the community has apparently become somewhat of a replacement for WordPress, I’d like to add my own, entirely irrelevant, blog entry.
Back in 1983, when I started my current software company (my second), we focused on doing what much of the community viewed as impossible. About five years along, we were working on a cutting-edge piece of enabling software (software that other companies use to build their products). Now, to be clear: This project we were doing wasn’t the Manhattan Project or landing a man on the moon. But it was still pretty innovative, very difficult, and terribly complicated.
The project was progressing, but it was way behind. We delivered features late, and what we did deliver often was neither particular well documented nor always correct.
We had a particular client whose staff was constantly complaining and sending rude bug reports to our team. Their management sent our management rude emails. The VP at this client had been trying to call me for two weeks, and I had succeeded in ducking his calls. Finally, later on a Thursday afternoon, I was in my office and I made the mistake of answering my phone. It was the angry VP. He proceeded to read me the riot act: Dates, bugs, how many millions of dollars of sales were on the line for his company, how we gave dates, promised functionality, etc. He was yelling. I got angry and started yelling back. Instead of answering any of his questions, I told him “From this moment forward, if you or anyone at your company sends us one more, single, tiny, complaint... I’m going to walk in to my Finance Manager’s office, cut you a check for whatever you’ve paid us, and you can write this software yourself.” That was the gist of what I said. In actuality, I used the f-word several times. They had paid us in excess of $100K, which at the time was a significant amount of money for us.
In truth, this was one of my proudest moments as an entrepreneur. The client was out of line and getting worse. I knew that the abuse had to stop, for my sanity and for the sanity of my dev team. And I knew if I worked for any company other than one I founded, I would have been fired on the spot for talking to a client this way.
But... You know what? The client’s complaining stopped. Immediately. He even stopped yelling on the phone. He apologized, in fact. Because he knew his company really wanted our software, there was no way they could write it themselves, and if we "fired them" as a client they'd be out of luck.
Know what else? That company has been one of our best and most loyal clients from that day to this. Just last week, almost 20 years later, we signed a major product licensing agreement with them.
And that concludes today’s blog post.
I swear this is a 100% true story. I will fully understand if the mods lock or delete this post for being off topic.