As many are doing, the closure of TextDrive/Joyent lifetime accounts prompts me to do some thinking about the time with them. In many ways it’s one of the parallel stories – one of a handful of constants – to my last eight and a half years. (Basically textpattern startup through now.)
The alpha launch of Textpattern was the beginning of a huge amount of sociability, tinkering, and geekery among smart and interesting people. I first rolled my then-movable type blog to textpattern in February of 2004. The community was active and friendly, and had a pretty large core of early adopters who naturally jumped on the original TextDrive VC offer when Dean and Jason introduced it in 2004. I didn’t; couldn’t swing the money as a deep-in-it graduate student married to another graduate student, and I always wished I had – so I jumped when the second round, the VCII, came along.
So for the past seven years I’ve had this space where I could play with the web. I had everything a hobbyist web guy could want for my personal experiments in web projects and self publishing, hosted sites for family, my friend Cam Scott’s poet/flyfishing site… It was just there, and that gave me a huge amount of simple freedom to explore and learn.
There was something great about being able to have an idea, put something on the web, then leave it alone and just not care if it gets hits or needs maintenance or has to be paid for.
And the community continued: I got to meet a handful of them over the years, once in San Francisco, and recently in flagstaff where I had the great pleasure of meeting Joel for coffee. Online, it was this forum I checked into daily. We posted good news and bad news, child announcements, work updates, rants and nonsense, lots and lots of nonsense. What a tremendous great place accreted around a couple of guys’ adventure in web hosting, and persisted through all the organizational changes and frankly unimaginable growth of that company – until now.
I think Kelly put it about right:
Then today, Joyent sent out emails stating that we were being shut down. It was time to find hosting elsewhere, end of life or something. We don’t fit into things now. We’re old, and old people get sent away because they get in the way.
I don’t know how I feel about this exactly yet. I understand business costs, and that having a bunch of currently non-paying users taking up old hardware can be a drag. This odd thing I’m feeling is less about having to migrate than it is about something else.
My first reaction wasn’t about what I was going to do with my web sites, but a feeling of loss for what we had been a part of, the loss of being a part of something that was no longer what I still wanted – not a startup to which I was a (small) contributor, but a big company with accountants and lawyers. The thing we had isn’t there anymore, even though a lot of us still are.
I don’t want to focus on the nastiness that has erupted around the web and on the forum; threats of class action lawsuits that shut down conversation, anger and outrage. I think Joyent is making the wrong decision; but I don’t think I have anything to gain by trying to force them to keep me – or us – in their fold.
Update: Well, this was unexpected.