There are lots of good things I’ll miss at Sampa. Even my own family website which we used intensively for 3+ years (Site id 15, where the first 12 sites didn’t exist, 13 was Sampa’s blog, 14 was my personal blog). But running a startup is very stressful at many fronts and I can’t be happy to think I won’t have to deal with some things:
When I started Sampa AJAX wasn’t a known technology, there was no Cloud Computing, no JQuery, Firefox 1 Beta was just coming out. I had to build a lot of stuff from scratch. Over time, the code grew bigger and more complex. If we count today, Sampa probably has 500,000 lines of code, but over the last 4 years I probably wrote more than 1,000,000 lines. As you add, remove, change, fix, improve code it becomes complex and the architecture you designed 4 years ago it’s not ideal for the new needs of the system. I won’t miss adding features to the Sampa platform.
I’ve been managing live services for about 7 years now. It sucks. Server goes down on a Saturday night and you have to figure out what the hell is happening, otherwise tens of thousands of users cannot read or update their websites. It’s very stressful. We never grew to a size I could justify hiring an Ops Manager/Systems Engineer. I just hate babysitting servers. It’s not like we had many issues, but once a week or once every two weeks. But is the stress of being on alert all the time. Only if you done that you know what I am saying.
Most customers are nice. Most customers thank you for the free service. Some customers are just spoiled brats. But, by far, the worst customers were those that didn’t take the time to read anything and send an email to support for the easiest questions ever. It’s right there! In front of you! Can’t you read?
There is a pile of bugs I’ll never have to fix. Yay!
My Sampa email has an enormous amount of incoming spam. Mostly because I monitor default addresses like webmaster@, sampa@, postmaster@, etc.
This is a tough one to explain, but the fact is that when you build a very complex startup and you have a large user base to maintain, you can’t pursue new opportunities. I remember when Twitter spun off from Odeo, and how I felt at the time about taking my lessons from Sampa and running a more focused-service. At Sampa we had the concept of single-purpose vs. multi-purpose products. Flickr, YouTube, Twitter, Blogger were single-purpose products. They did one thing (mostly). Sampa, Facebook, Office were multi-purpose products. They did many things. Multi-purpose products complexity is not the sum of its parts, but also the sum of each connection between each of the parts. In other words, if building a blogging platform costs 1 and building a photo-sharing costs 1, building a blogging and photo-sharing service costs 3. Yes, multi-purpose products are more complex, hence harder to replicate in terms of technology, but while at Sampa I look at all the things I built and how I could have put that energy at creating a dozen single-purpose products, like: Blogging, Photo Sharing, Document Sharing, Page Builder, Web Layout Editor, Family Tree, Event Invitation, Baby Milestone Tracker, etc. And there were dozens of ideas that never made into the product because it wasn’t a fit for a “family site builder”.