Booze Cruise: The Last Gasp of the Failed Proprietary Model

This email is being sent out to folks from IONA (and probably Microsoft and Actional as well) and it left me speechless.

How on earth, in this day and age, can any of these companies look their customers in the eye and tell them that their software license fees are being used to further develop products and innovate?

Let’s assume that they can get 100 people to attend. Assuming they spend $2K on the venue, another $5K for the speaker, $10K for travel etc. for a bunch of folks, plus $10K cruise and booze (all really low estimates), comes in around $25-30K or $250-$300 per person!

I know that’s about right because that’s right around what proprietary software companies willingly pay to get qualified leads for their multi-six-figure software packages.

Its not the economics that surprise me so much, because trade shows and other awareness events can cost about the same, but the fact that somehow entertaining prospects and getting them drunk is going to make a sale more likely just seems anachronistic.

Perhaps they need to be drunk to consider their offerings?

I thought we had all moved past this. But I guess not.

They say they’re going to talk about Best Practices and Worst Practices. My advice is that they talk about the Worst Practice of spending a fortune on things the customer doesn’t care about.

Out of touch and out of their minds.

IONA seems to be desperately hanging onto their proprietary model, while at the same time trying to foster community around their open source Fuse products. To me, they’re in a tough spot: a tiny proprietary software business ($16M revenue last quarter) trying to compete with multi-billion dollar enterprise software companies, but without the commitment to an open source offering that’s going to attract the community to keep it competitive (or relevant).