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ArsDigita Founder Responds to Closing

michael posted more than 12 years ago | from the moral-of-the-story dept.

News 304

An anonymous reader sent in: "Net celebrity and ArsDigita founder Eve Andersson has written a brief history of the firm, documenting its downfall from her point of view. Fascinating reading, and yet another example of how a good thing can go so wrong."

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

fp (-1, Offtopic)

kahuna720 (56586) | more than 12 years ago | (#2981455)


Brotherhood of The Wolf (-1)

the_furies (541751) | more than 12 years ago | (#2981490)

It was pretty good. Barry Manilow saved the day. I couldn't find any naked pictures of Emilie Dequenne [] , so here are some of Monica [] Belluci [] .

Re:Brotherhood of The Wolf (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2981510)

Do you know what naked means?

You whiner (-1)

the_furies (541751) | more than 12 years ago | (#2981549)

Here [] . Honestly, some people...

Re:You whiner (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2981589)

I love chicks that can only support themselves by getting nekkid.

Wonder why I can't get any as a girlfriend?


fuck america (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2981502)

fuck u

Re:fuck america (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2981598)

Eloquent, to the point, and cute.

Kind of like those baby monkeys that run around and shit on people. If you have ever been to Six Flag's Great Adventure (NJ, USA, but probably not), they have a safari you can drive through where in one section babboons hop all over your car. Most of them just hop on the hood or the roof, some sit on the side mirrors waiting to be fed (lots of asses feed the animals).

But the best part are the few that are kinda nuts. They rip shit off the car (antennas, rubber stripping, etc.) and shove it up their asses! This behavior reminds me of you for 3 reasons:
1) Their behavior makes no sense.
2) They do stupid, stupid things that piss people off.
3) Their nonsensical gruntings make as much sense as you do.

Have a nice day!

Re:fuck america (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2981611)

Gee whiz- another anti-American post where the moron is too much of a pussy to post under a name (1-you didn't, why should I? 2- I actually have karma that I don't want burned) and can't even spell the word "you". Nor can he/she capitalize correctly, and most likely needs help to wipe his/her ass.

Good job! Way to prove your point! Maybe for an encore you could set yourself on fire ala "Jackass" and blame America for allowing you to toast yourself to medium-well?

The best part would to meet this idiot- you just can feel his/her teenage, anti-social vibe; trying to be all badass buck resorting to 4 letter curse words. The other alternative is worse- some 20 or 30 year old who comes off as 12 year old.

Ha. Made my night.

Why Americans suck. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2981638)

They're so dangerously insecure, they write windy treatises in reply to a simple "Fuck u".

Alan Thicke DEAD. (-1)

Alan_Thicke (553655) | more than 12 years ago | (#2981457)

I just heard the sad news on CBC radio. Comedy actor/writer Alan Thicke was found dead in his home this morning. Even if you never liked his work, you can appreciate what he did for 80's television. Truly a Canadian icon.
He will be missed :(

Show me That Smile (The Growing Pains Theme Song):

Show me that smile again.
Ooh show me that smile.
Don't waste another minute on your crying.
We're nowhere near the end.
We're nowhere near.
The best is ready to begin.

As long as we got each other []
We got the world
Sitting right in our hands.
Baby rain or shine;
All the time.
We got each other
Sharing the laughter and love.

No more Ars University? (3, Funny)

digitalunity (19107) | more than 12 years ago | (#2981458)

I guess I'll just have to get my MCSE now.

Re:No more Ars University? (1, Offtopic)

ozric99 (162412) | more than 12 years ago | (#2981498)

I guess I'll just have to get my MCSE now.

MCSE? Uhmm.. That would be 'Arse University' wouldn't it?

What really went wrong. (5, Insightful)

yeOldeSkeptic (547343) | more than 12 years ago | (#2981618)

A small group of developers earning lots of money, making clients happy, and developing and releasing a useful software product is wonderful, but ... to make a substantial impact on the world, you gotta grow.

This is where it all began. ArsDigita had earnings, had satisfied clients and had a useful software product. What they didn't have was an impact on the world. What I'm saying may not be popular, but it seems to me that after an initial success, egoism got the better of them. It isn't enough that they are a big fish in a little pond, they gotta be a big fish in a big pond.

There is nothing wrong with growing, but Greenspun and cohorts should have realized that as ArsDigita grew, it will change its character: It will need funds, it will need expert managers, it will need a longer list of clients.

Funds: Conservative companies don't go to venture capitalists for funds. They go to financial institutions for that. VC's ask too much control in return for their cash. FI's only ask that you present them a viable business plan and a reliable payment schedule. Perhaps ArsDigita never went to the large FI's because it couldn't present a viable business plan? Or because their ego told them that bricks and mortar FI's are not the way to growth in the internet-age?

Clients: So they got three or four big clients initially. Considering that ArsDigita had no office, no letterhead and had only 5 employees, that's a big deal. But if they grew to a hundred full time employees and an office, even 10 big clients won't be enough. Did they have a plan to increase their client list or at least knew where those clients will be coming from?

Expert Management: The most important rule for entrepreneurs: This company is your baby, you gotta take care of it, nurture it, and help it grow, because no one else will. When the company grows, the owner's expertise must grow with it. ArsDigita was forced to grow so fast that the owners never had a change to gain the expertise to manage the enterprise. ArsDigita had to hire outside ``experts'' whose only probable interest is how to bail out with a golden parachute.

If ArsDigita didn't try to match the company's size with the owners inflated ego, it would be probably still be profitable today. Compare ArsDigita with John Carmack's Id Software and you'll understand everything I just said.

Just my half cents worth. ;-)

Pinch of salt? (0, Interesting)

oregon (554165) | more than 12 years ago | (#2981461)

She was sacked last October.

Now she's blaming it all on the managment that kicked her out.

Is she bitter? Or is she correct?

Re:Pinch of salt? (-1)

Ralph JewHater Nader (450769) | more than 12 years ago | (#2981471)

Eve is a fucking slut. She could have kept her job by sucking off all the upper management, but instead, she sucked off all the janitors instead. Dumb whore.

Re:Pinch of salt? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2981574)

JewHater Nader, I choose you!

Re:Pinch of salt? (-1)

the_furies (541751) | more than 12 years ago | (#2981582)

Mr. Nader, please share with us your opinion of the recent movie Black Hawk Down.

Excellent movie (-1)

Ralph JewHater Nader (450769) | more than 12 years ago | (#2981610)

Many niggers and towelheads were killed. That makes it a good movie in itself. They should have shown some dead jews as well.

Re:Pinch of salt? (3, Insightful)

ekrout (139379) | more than 12 years ago | (#2981477)

She was sacked last October.

Now she's blaming it all on the managment that kicked her out.

Is she bitter?

The short answer is "No".

The longer answer is that Greenspun's own account of Ars' downfall matches hers in a number of ways. They both felt that the venture capitalists made horrible decisions.

I can understand if she's upset that her dream for Ars will never manifest itself, but I doubt she'd stoop so low as to manufacture incidents that never happened just to make herself look good and make others look bad.

From all I've read about them and her, she seems to be a bright and honest person.

Re:Pinch of salt? (5, Insightful)

jedwards (135260) | more than 12 years ago | (#2981484)

From the account ... Or might it have been because I was dating Philip Greenspun

so the fact that Greenspun and she have similar recollections is hardly surprising.

I didn't say she was lying ... you can easily have 2 accounts of the same event that read very differently depending on which details are left out and which are emphasised ... just that this is unlikely to be the authoritive account.

Re:Pinch of salt? (4, Insightful)

maxpublic (450413) | more than 12 years ago | (#2981587)

This account is accurate, according to more folks than just herself and Greenspun. Many of the original pre-VC employees have said much the same thing, i.e., the VCs were complete incompetents both at the business and the technology that made the business. The ArsDigita fun 'n games is old news to those in the field.

Not-so-surprisingly, I've heard *many* accounts along these lines from people in various companies that were ruined by VCs. Formerly profitable endeavors saw an opportunity to expand so long as they relinquished control to MBAs, were grateful to do so (thinking the MBAs would relieve them of the chores of management, accounting, and payroll), and then found to their dismay that the new folks were complete morons interested only in padding their own bank and expense accounts. It sounds somewhat naive in hindsight, but the programmers who built the companies found the business side of it to be a tedious pain in the ass and wanted to do what they loved best, program; turning over these non-programming aspects to a 'professional' seemed logical.

Only the thing is, the 'professionals' in business are often incredibly stupid and even more greedy. My own experiences with executive management in various corporations is one of disbelief combined with wonder: disbelief that someone so stupid could hold such a position of power, and wonder over how they got that position in the first place. Clearly, the world of management *isn't* Darwinian, else all of these fools would've been weeded out of the corporate gene pool a long time ago. Instead, they run the show.

Never underestimate the potential incompetence of an MBA, especially a VC MBA. Years of experience have taught me that the most likely person to stick their fingers in the pie and screw things up are just these kinds of folks. Especially the ones (which seem to constitute the majority) who never progressed beyond the kindergarten level of maturity and are constantly whipping out their peckers to measure them against everyone else they encounter.


Re:Pinch of salt? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2981596)

I'm a sucker - I'll believe anything a cute geek girl says.

Re:Pinch of salt? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2981532)

Don't listen to this troll. He is a known troll lover and supports them on his website. Please mod him down to -1 flamebait. Thank you.

Re:Pinch of salt? Nah, just your ignorance (1)

rjamestaylor (117847) | more than 12 years ago | (#2981601)

To ask this is to illustrate extreme ignorance of the history of aD and its founders (the profitable, visionary ones, of which she was named). It's not wrong to be ignorant, it's just impolite to cast apersions on someone while in a state of utter ignorance.

Too bad she's a geek (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2981463)

She would have made plenty of money by posing for tgp's.

Eve Andersson Caption Contest (-1)

the_furies (541751) | more than 12 years ago | (#2981605)

Say something clever about this pic. [] Go nuts, kids.

Re:Eve Andersson Caption Contest (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2981627)

Caption: You're my best sex partner []

eat my post (-1)

SweetAndSourJesus (555410) | more than 12 years ago | (#2981464)

that's right. all of it. then you can get a tshirt that says "i can't believe i ate the whole thing"


Greenspun's similar comments (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2981467)

Eve's story was an interesting read, and it's quite similar to the history posted by Greenspun. To make a long story short, greedy VCs drove an otherwise good company straight into the ground. Greenspun's account of the action has been removed, but a cached copy [] is at

If you want to know what really happened, I'd say that a combination of the two journals is likely a good start.

Typical.... (1, Redundant)

Obliterous (466068) | more than 12 years ago | (#2981470)

vc's get ahold of a company, and everything goes to hell.... they hada good buisiness model, once...

All hail the ACS!!!!!

Re:Typical.... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2981503)

i have done it to many lovely ladies. From the lowliest bus station skank, to the classiest, most sophisticated, educated, debutante, high society, bus station skank. btw... chlamydia is a soup.

Re:Typical.... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2981551)

Who was the best; in your opinion?

Re:Typical.... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2981564)

Your SKANKY WHORE of a mother was the best, you cretin. She gave the fucker GENITAL HERPES AND GENITAL WARTS, you fuckin fruitcake, pillow-biting, ass-raping FAGGOT! I HOPE YOU DIE IN A POOL OF YOUR OWN VOMIT YOU DISGUSTING FUDGEPACKERS!!!!!!!

Re:Typical.... (4, Funny)

poemofatic (322501) | more than 12 years ago | (#2981585)

they hada good buisiness model, once...

You mean the VC's?


ars artis (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2981480)

Ars Digita is a fine example of the entrepreneurial powerhouse which can be established through the hard work and determination of a family of low-wage antelopes working in combination with a mutant goose--bless you all.

i find yo ur idaes fascinnarting (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2981533)

pluz sebscribez me you letter of news

and.. (-1)

LOTR Troll (544929) | more than 12 years ago | (#2981483)

Ars Digita was.....?

So it's the VCs who sank the ship (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2981485)

What about nepotism? I mean, Eve is an okay programmer and one hell of a girl geek but she sucked (no pun intended) so bad at the managerial position. Believe it or not, she was a joke as a team leader and everybody on the team hated it.

Re:So it's the VCs who sank the ship (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2981499)

Do you know what nepotism means?

Re:So it's the VCs who sank the ship (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2981656)

For the sake of my Eve fantasies I hope it means "chained up, slathered in olive oil, and having sex with a herd of feral goats".

Eve, oh Eve (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2981487)

Anyone who wants to #@!! Eve, press 123.

Re:Eve, oh Eve (-1, Offtopic)

CheezyD (548557) | more than 12 years ago | (#2981676)

123 123 123 123 123 123 123 123 123 123 123 123 123 123 ... geek girl = freak girl Anybody else notice the similarity between Ars and Arse?

word (-1)

Ars Technica (551577) | more than 12 years ago | (#2981492)

They were violating my copyright by calling themselves Ars Whatever anyway. I was this close to suing them. Who are they again?

Hrmm.. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2981500)

This may be pretty darn superficial, but what the heck. Eve [] , is one cute geek-chick. :)

Re:Hrmm.. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2981507)

I'm sure that makes her feel much better.

Re:Hrmm.. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2981550)

Damn, you're not kidding [] !

Re:Hrmm.. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2981584)

The next thing for her to do is to sell her story to playboy (with requisite photos).

Re:Hrmm.. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2981595)

Hoochi mama [] ! Damn I'm lonely. I fantasize about girls like that so much I could never approach one.

Re:Hrmm.. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2981649)

I'd pay good money to see her and that dog going at it.

pssst... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2981501)

pssst... rumors! []

please add one before you mod me down ;)

Re:pssst... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2981588)

ok, test successfull.

check back later for v2.0 with goatse extra goodness

on a diff ip of coirse thanks at&t fuckers

What I really want to know (0, Offtopic)

Laplace (143876) | more than 12 years ago | (#2981504)

In the Philip Eve love affair, who is the subbie and who is the domme? I want to know, dammit!

Fault? (4, Insightful)

smashin234 (555465) | more than 12 years ago | (#2981506)

Another classic example of the group project that falls apart because no one can fall apart.

The company was doomed the minute they brought in the "VC's" because their vision of the company's future was drasically different then the people who started the company.

Just like getting into bed with someone who has different views on sex is a bad idea, so is going into buisness with people who have different views on buisness.

It may work for a little while, but eventually everyone is going to get disillisioned and go do their own thing.

Know your VC... (4, Insightful)

poemofatic (322501) | more than 12 years ago | (#2981572)

VC's are gamblers. They're not intersted in funding the expansion of Jim's Donut Shop, even if Jim makes a good profit every month.

Their business model is that a very small fraction of their businesses hit the jackpot while the rest fail trying to get there. The real world business model is that most successful businesses are like Jim's. No jackpot. Now, what happens if, for some reason, Jim manages to get a lot of VC cash. Well, you'll see Jim opening up dozens of franchises, building donut-baking warehouses, buying trucks, etc. Odds, are, Jim will fail.

Now in the Internet Bubble there were a lot of good, sound businesses that were really more like Jim's and less like eBay. Duh. In fact, I think the internet is more suited for small profitable outfits -- it doesn't scale very well. With an office, some good coders, a few routers and you can reach the world. But you don't see enormous revenues, and getting 10x as many good coders as when you started is impossible. It's very hard to scale up on the net. But the surreal economy fooled a lot of people into shooting too high. It's hard to imagine ArsDigita -- basically some support for a community database/website -- taking over the world. So the VC's drove it into the ground.

VCs are Lemmings (was Re:Know your VC...) (2, Insightful)

solman (121604) | more than 12 years ago | (#2981615)

It's hard to imagine ArsDigita -- basically some support for a community database/website -- taking over the world

This is like saying "Its hard to imagine an auction [] website taking over the world." ArsDigita's target market had the potential to satisfy VC's required returns many times over.

The VC's didn't have to start hiring people at .com boom salary levels, abandon aD's existing products, and ignore the developer community. They chose to, because that's what everybody else in the VC community was doing at the time.

And that brings me to your first statement: VC's are gamblers. Nothing could be further from the truth. VC's try to avoid risk like the plague. But for them the biggest risk is getting left behind by other Venture firms. So they act like lemmings, out of fear that deviating from the norm will get them in trouble. The tactic works quite well. Although some Venture investors are irrate over the the collapse, most firms are getting off the hook by saying that everybody else made the same mistakes. (Of course some [] did so poorly that even this excuse won't help).

The collapse of aD will go down as a classic case of VC's (Two of the most prominent in the business) acting like lemmings at the expense of common sense.

Interesting time line (4, Interesting)

egumtow (410320) | more than 12 years ago | (#2981511)


"In late March 2001, ArsDigita received $38 million in financing... In early April, Allen Shaheen... took Philip's place as CEO.

'ArsDigita University was one of the primary reasons I decided to join ArsDigita Corporation.'
- Allen Shaheen, early April 2000"

end quote

What the heck is that? Shaheen commenting on the company a year before he joined? All the quotes in the "Venture capital and new management" section are screwy like that. Is Eve trying to pull a fast one, or is it a mistake?

Re:Interesting time line (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2981517)

He joined AD in April 2000. He became CEO in march 2001.

Was that so hard to infer from the article?

Re:Interesting time line (2)

Ageless (10680) | more than 12 years ago | (#2981528)

It's extremely hard to infer anything when you don't read the article, as the original poster did not :)

Re:Interesting time line (2, Insightful)

doooras (543177) | more than 12 years ago | (#2981531)

i am pretty sure it's just a typo. if i do recall correctly, Mr. Shaheen did not make that statement until April of 2001, shortly after he took control of the company.

As for that VC and new mgmt section... it's probably screwy because that is most likely the section they throw the new guy on who has way too much else to do than proofread something that the majority will not be interested in reading. seems like they would be more careful, since that would be what stockholders would want to see. of course, i'm not sure if they ever went public or not, so stockholders may not be an issue.

Re:Interesting time line (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2981547)

No, he joined in April 2000 [] . Can you read?

And stop getting your friends to moderate you up.

Re:Interesting time line (1)

egumtow (410320) | more than 12 years ago | (#2981597)

"Allen is ArsDigita's president and has been with the company since April of 2000."

So, it was quite obvious by 2001 that Shaheen was driving aD into the ground. Why then was Philip "quite happy to let a 'professional manager' step in and take over some of his day-to-day management duties..."

The entire piece reads of Shaheen destroying aD over the course of 2000. Yet Eve and Philip are happy to let Shaheen take control?

Re:Interesting time line (1)

cheezehead (167366) | more than 12 years ago | (#2981617)

Probably a typo. There's more at the end of her story: February 7 2001 where it should be 2002 (I think).

Just a typo (1)

Myrmidon (649) | more than 12 years ago | (#2981641)

She means to say "in late March 2000". ArsDigita had the VC money in 2000. Allen Shaheen was running the show by July 2000.

Philip Greenspun's version (1, Informative)

solman (121604) | more than 12 years ago | (#2981515)

Philip Greenspun's story [] (not surprisingly) agrees with Eve's, but provides a very different point of view.

Re:Philip Greenspun's version (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2981536)

::sniff, sniff::

do you smell that? is that french geek perfume?

no... i guess it's just the scent of a karma whore. :-P

VC?? I HATE THE VC (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2981516)

godamn viet cong ruin everything

Re:VC?? I HATE THE VC (0, Offtopic)

CharlesDarwin (163099) | more than 12 years ago | (#2981613)

Please mod this Anonymous Coward's post +1 funny. I laughed out loud!

Arse Digital Founder Responds To Closing (-1, Troll)

BassGuy23 (308297) | more than 12 years ago | (#2981529)

Does this mean that the goatse guy finally "closed the hangar doors"?

ACS gives me a big stiffy (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2981540)

here it is: 8=====================> and slashcoders are retarded... do you see any capitals in this post? no? then why does the lameness regex pick them up? holy shit, what a bunch of retards.

the power of tcl 8=======> (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2981545)

Rocks the asses of java nrrds [] .

Grain of salt (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2981546)

Just as note - within the company itself, Phil was widely known to be a bastard and an incompetent manager as well as a mediocre coder. Eve was basically known to be a joke. No one was particularly sorry when she left; when Philip left, people cheered. Note that, in her article, Eve compares the prosperity of aD before the dot com crash with the downfall of aD afterward; and blames it solely on the VCs. While I agree that the VCs have some hand in this, the basic reality is that companies like aD (no product, no strategy, no clue) do not fare well in the harsh climate of the "new new economy". I'd suggest taking Eve's rosy view of the situation with a grain of salt.

Re:Grain of salt (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2981606)

Eve was basically known to be a joke.

What the hell are you talking about?

Re:Grain of salt (1)

Schubert (5172) | more than 12 years ago | (#2981619)

and yet posted anonymously. What bravery we displayed here. Take authorless words with a grain of salt

Re:Grain of salt (3, Insightful)

cheezehead (167366) | more than 12 years ago | (#2981662)

...Phil was widely known to be a bastard ...

Well, I don't know the guy, but I've read a lot of what he has written (see here [] ). It appears to me that his manner is a bit rough around the edges (I've wanted to send him flame mail myself on some occasions), but he hardly seems to be a bastard or a jerk. There's this story about how he paid [] MIT students their tuition money (for one class) back, out of his own pocket . Amounted to more than $2000, if my calculations were correct. How many people would do that? Also, he seemed genuinely devastated by the death of his dog [] . People who are that civilized are usually 'good' people in my experience.

Not really (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2981556)

In her article, Eve seems to make the assertion that the ACS-TCL was a fine product, and that the ACS-Java that replaced it was terrible because java is merely a "fashionable" language, not a useful one.

The reality is that the TCL version of ACS was abysmal. It did not scale in any reasonable way; it leaked memory like a sieve (we actually had to write a script to restart the server periodically), and it was a pain to use. Worse than that, the code was an ad hoc spaghetti mess, full of hacks that work around bugs introduced by other hacks. For example, a common joke among the developers was that any method prefixed with "philg_" could be replaced by the pseudocode "if(rand() > 0.5) crash();" Eve's own code was in the same league.

When the same people who wrote this monstrocity got their hands on Java, they made all the same mistakes -- hence, the failure of ACS-Java to accomplish anything remotely useful. The VCs are not the only ones to blame for aD's failure.

An Invitation of (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2981558)

Anyone with an interest in Greenspun's ideas or the ACS should come over to where the FULLY GPL OpenACS 3.x and the (currently in late alpha) 4.x are developed and maintained by a talented global developer community and several companies.

For general info read first: OpenACS FAQ

Aolserver is the native webserver of OpenACS, but you can use Apache if you like

A list of companies that offer various OpenACS (and ACS) services and support

We all hang out at

Come check it out for yourself.

Pushed out just in time. (3, Informative)

chip_s_ahoy (318689) | more than 12 years ago | (#2981563)

Eve characterizes Phillip Greenspun as being victimized by the evil VCs.

But according to her story,he was victimized to the tune of 7.6 million dollars from a company about to go fuckedcompany? Not so bad.

His story (see link above from solman) doesn't mention money changing hands, so what do you believe?

Re:Pushed out just in time. (1)

disenfranchised (198342) | more than 12 years ago | (#2981577)

Given that her post mentions Phillip Greenspun receiving the money along with a non-disclosure agreement, I'm not surprised he didn't mention it. I can't think of anyone who'd be willing to endanger a settlement of that size.

The canard of growth (5, Insightful)

Thagg (9904) | more than 12 years ago | (#2981566)

My company is committed to not growing, and it's amazing that I found so few other companies with the same princples, given the obvious success of the idea. ArsDigita is just one of any number of companies that went through the same trajectory.

My partners in Hammerhead Productions all worked at the same company, Pacific Data Images, before they closed their LA facility. I started with PDI when it was quite small, and was terribly fortunate that the management of PDI was committed to open books -- that is, they allowed the employees [at least the early employees, more on that, later] to see exactly what the revenues and expenses were. PDI was committed to growth, as most companies are.

The thing is that the company as the company went from 8 people to 100 people, the profits went down. They went down on a per-capita basis, but they even went down on an overall basis -- more people are much more expensive, as you add layers of overhead and spend much of your time on internal communication. Personally, I found the company less and less interesting -- as people you hired for their creative talents ended up supervising others instead, so you lost the spark that made the work interesting. I would point out over and over again, at meetings, that growth was killing us. I'd try to correct the historic graphs for inflation, to show that the numbers were even worse than they appeared at first glance. This made me quite unpopular at these meetings.

When we started our new company, we decided that we'd never grow. We've stabilized at about 10 people over the last five years, and it's worked out marvelously. The people we have are talented, creative, and are allowed to exercise their talents and creativity. The company is reasonably profitable, and shows every indication of staying that way. We are small enough that our overhead is low, so we can pick projects that interest us, instead of being forced to 'feed the machine', as larger facilities have to do.

The author of this article, Eve Andersson, says 'to make a substantial impact on the world, you gotta grow.' This is a well accepted fact, that just happens to be untrue. Even in the world of film visual effects, dominated in many ways by ILM (1500 people) and other big companies, Hammerhead holds its own. For the last two years, we've been in the Academy's Visual Effects Bake-off, showing that we can compete with those big companies.

When contracting with a company to do work, often it is more important to the person paying for the work to get a few key people working on it, rather than a slaveship of hundreds of drones.

I've gone on long enough. Just think, when you have to decide whether to grow or not, that there are substantial good reasons for staying small. Don't ignore the numbers, if the numbers are telling you that growth is killing you.

Thad Beier
Hammerhead Productions

ps. Ok, ok, PDI went on to make 'Shrek', which needed 300 people. I still stand by my thesis.

Re:The canard of growth (3, Insightful)

cheezehead (167366) | more than 12 years ago | (#2981642)

Just think, when you have to decide whether to grow or not, that there are substantial good reasons for staying small. Don't ignore the numbers, if the numbers are telling you that growth is killing you.

Yes. Capitalism teaches that growth=good, and this is rarely questioned. However, there have been many solid companies that were growing too fast, the original founders got bought out or left out of frustration (Apple Computer and Steve Jobs comes to mind), and the company eventually crashed and burned. Growth is often a good thing, but not always. And big companies can make a big fall (Enron).

Re:The canard of growth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2981678)

Enron fell because the company's financials were based upon one thing, and one thing only.

A fiscal SHELL GAME.

Get real dude, myopia is unbecoming.

where (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2981570)

where can i see this chick naked?

Remove the log from thine own eye... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2981571)

A company grows from 5 to 50+ in a year, then seeks VCs to accelerate growth. That's not greedy? Wasn't the first stupidity going for the VC money when things were going well?

Her story sounds like the classic "if I ran the company, everything would be perfect" rant usually heard from holier-than-thou engineers covering for their own incompetence.

And poor, poor baby had to take three months off to travel before coming back to be sacked. I know we all weep for her and her dire plight. If only everybody else were as competent, intelligent, and insightful as she....


How's your own eye? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2981620)

She ran the company, things were fairly perfect.

She didn't run the company, things got fucked.

While this isn't quite a causal relationship, it KIND of dents your argument.

TCL -- puhleeze (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2981599)

Very whiny and I have little sympathy.

I like the "the evil VCs ruined our wonderful software product" claim. Hey, maybe you could sell a TCL-based web product in 1998, but in 2001? Can you really blame the new CEO for wanting to move to a J2EE architecture? Show me a *major* player in the app server/CMS world that's not offering something based on J2EE or .NET -- or both.

Re:TCL -- puhleeze (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2981634)

fuck you for moderating this down -- where will your Tcl get you? If you're lucky, you can be an assistant network admin for the big corporation I write J2EE apps for.

I'm sure OpenACS has BEA shaking!

It must be easier to sling mud while hiding (5, Insightful)

davmoo (63521) | more than 12 years ago | (#2981607)

I've just finished reading Ms. Andersson's account, and most of the comments currently posted here at the time I write this.

I don't know Ms. Andersson, nor have I had any connection with her company, so I can't say whether her account is correct or not.

I have noticed a lot of negative statements about her, though, in these comments. And I find it interesting that the vast majority making those negative comments have chosen to be wimps hiding behind the name "Anonymous Coward" (a very appropriate name).

Even if Ms. Andersson is wrong, at least she has guts enough to put her name on her comments.

Re:It must be easier to sling mud while hiding (2)

rjamestaylor (117847) | more than 12 years ago | (#2981630)

I second your post. I wasn't there (though know someone who was) and tend to disdain the ACs in this war of public relations. Putting one's name to it means a heck of a lot. Philip and Eve seem to do that on a regular basis.

Re:It must be easier to sling mud while hiding (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2981657)

Philip and Eve have enough money between them to last comfortably the rest of their lives. I do not. Therefore, I will not jeopardize my chances for future employment by posting "in person". Does that make me a coward ? Of course. But you are free to browse at +3 and ignore me.

Re:It must be easier to sling mud while hiding (2)

uspsguy (541171) | more than 12 years ago | (#2981677)

I guess if you've squirrled away a few million dollars in the bank, its easy to spout off and take the credit. Most of us, however, have things like rent or a mortgage, maybe a family, and definitly a future to worry about. Especially if you have inside information, you can't always afford to have your name tied to what you say. I usually post under my name now but for a long time, I was only an A C. There are still occasional issues where my comments will be without my nick. Some of the A C's are clearly lowlifes but others have things to say that are better or more safely said minus their identity. I don't automatically disregard the A C's but check out what they say first (well, at least if they somehow get +1 where I browse).

Not to suprizing. (2)

autopr0n (534291) | more than 12 years ago | (#2981621)

For those of us who read Greenspun's account of the lawsuit [] this isn't to surprising. The two forces of PHB VCs and a weakened (to say the least) dotcom economy were probably way too much for the company to handle.

I think if the company had stayed private, they probably could have pulled through the worst of it, but they didn't. Oh well.

It's always nice to hear about the downfall of people you don't like though :P

(there's a german word that would apply here, but I couldn't spell it for the life of me :P)

Re:Not to suprizing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2981666)

The word is 'schaedenfreud' (well, I think that's how it's spelled).

It's meaning (according to my german brother in law) is not quite sadism. More like why people laugh at slapstick.

After all - why do people find something like the three stooges funny? What exactly is funny or enjoyable about seeing someone get poked in the eye?

is this a bad time to say... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2981623)

... that I hated that stupid book he wrote with his dog on the cover?

Libel (1)

Noodlenose (537591) | more than 12 years ago | (#2981636)

Interesting read, although I would not be surprised if she would get sued for libel or slander. It is very hard these days to call some business-boy al liar without seeing your lawyers...


simple, practical reasons (2)

markj02 (544487) | more than 12 years ago | (#2981645)

I don't think we have to wonder much why this company ran into trouble, like so many others. ArsDigita apparently worked reasonably well, and it was one of the first complete systems of its kind. But the company apparently was largely about consulting, and there just isn't that much demand right now. Furthermore, Tcl+Oracle isn't exactly cutting edge technology (I know--it was later converted to Java and other databases). The Internet bubble burst, and it's hard to survive now as a large Internet software vendor even if you have a unique product. And standards have moved on--there are dozens of popular solutions for dynamic database-backed web sites available now. The soap opera we hear about seems more like a symptom than a cause. I suspect, though, that when all is said and done, the founders probably made out alright.

Not all ArsDigitas are alike (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2981651)

There were several ArsDigita offices throughout the world when the company began to contract (or implode) in the last half of 2001. The office I worked in was staffed by some of the nicest, smartest, hardest-working people I have ever enjoyed coding with. We wrote unit tests. We pair-programmed. We refactored. We were starting to create something that looked credibly like commercial software.

I have been told that even source control and release management were considered "fashionable but not really useful" back in the TCL era at AD, and that ACS users were expected to grab a tarball and start hacking.

Remember when you were a wet-nosed little code monkey and thought that grinding out twenty functional points over a sleepless weekend meant that you were "productive?" Forget that the code was too slow and buggy to be released, or that it was so over-engineered that every programmer who had to add to it or use it squandered countless hours figuring out the architecture.

Slowly, if you learned at all, you discovered that all the boring stuff you disdained at first enabled you to actually bring products to market in a repeatable, cost-effective way. (Oh yeah, and no 80-hour weeks debugging, either).

ArsDigita was just beginning to learn these lessons and grow up into a real development organization when RedHat acquired it.

Everytime someone gets rich quick, (5, Interesting)

RobPiano (471698) | more than 12 years ago | (#2981654)

Someone else gets hurt.

Eve really did write a beautiful article, and I thank her for writting it. She did, however, try to wipe her hands clean of all responsibilty. Not to say she is responsible, but ArsDigita's death was not due to just the capitalists that sealed its fate, but the capitalists within.

ArsDigita was one of the few net companies actually developing a useful product that people wanted. It should have weathered the dot-com bombs, but it fell into a cycle of greed. Rather than making modest earnings, they wanted to get richer faster. It was easy to ignore the fact they were making tons of money, and doing a good job. They had the potential to make more, and being good young american capitalists they went for the opportunity.

A web developer no matter how talented is not actually worth 7 million dollars. This is not to say they aren't "the best" or any other such nonsense, but rather 7 million dollars is a HUGE amount of money.

Think of ID games. They keep their number smalls, their business controlled and make solid, strong, modest, earnings for the most desired product of its kind. They are extremly successful and will continue to be because they hold similar ideals to ArsDigita.

ArsDigita, however, let it be controlled by big fish who offered to front more money. More money, more profit, everyone's happy? No, because everyone was trying to get rich quickly. Sure you were trying to make a good product, but you were so bedazzeled by the money that ArsDigita's creative control was lost. If you invite sharks into your pool, expect to get bit.

Eve I'm sorry you got screwed. You did your job well, but no matter getting rich quick means someone else is paying for it. Your company tried to raise too much capital, too fast. You got your ass kicked by the best, but we're all alittle wiser for it.

Oh well, I invite you to join my world. A soon to be college graduate looking at a very tight job market because a few dot-commers wanted little red sports cars.


it's interesting (0, Redundant)

llamalicious (448215) | more than 12 years ago | (#2981673)

it's interesting to note the numerous "I'm an Anonymous Coward so let's bash the author of the article" comments.
If these people have something to complain about so publicly, the least they could do is be forthcoming about it.

Geesh, you'd think they were the VC peeps that were being complained about in the first place.
You aren't, are you?


Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2981674)

fuck me up the ass

I know about VCs... (2, Interesting)

bovinewasteproduct (514128) | more than 12 years ago | (#2981675)

My father's company got some venture capitol back in the late eighties. This was not for a cash infusion, but to start the company.
When they started they had over 20 customers in such diverse areas of POS maintenance, GPOS maintenance and HVAC. After 6 months they had net profit of over $60,000 a month.
Within two years the VC had let the HVAC guys run off with all of their equipment and customers for nothing. The gasoline guys left because they could not tolerate the VC.
Three years later my Dad and his friend bought the POS part of the business for pennies on the dollar from the bankruptcy(sp) sale.
For the new company they never even THOUGHT of getting any type of VC...

Five years later my Dad sold his share for a cool $250,000.

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