Friday, May 29, 2009

Another SaaS vendor is out of the game.

Is it possible to build a profitable business around just one client? Well, don’t jump to conclusions right away. What would you say having US goverment as a client?

Blist is now Socrata.

This is the official position of the company stated by Jon Byrum, Senior Product Marketing Manager, on Get Satisfaction site:

"Socrata will continue to support access to your blists. We will not, however, continue to build features with a focus on CRM, Project Management, and online database solutions. We are dedicated to delivering the best social data discovery solution for governments and have prioritized our resources on that goal."

You can also find out more about it on the official blog of the company.

The first sign of what can happen could have been noticed in January 2009.

I think in such difficult times blist investors pondered it for a while and decided they’d rather stake on money of the government. Cause the chances to make some with the government are a way higher than trying to do the same thing hoping to build a profitable business model on online database solution.

What current blist users will do now? This is what they are offered:

The thing is the service will not focus on online database solution development and current users can’t count on growth in this direction anymore. Anyway, in case they decide to migrate to another system I think the situation will be much the same Coghead users had to deal with.

There is one more interesting thing with Adobe Flex blist was built on. Actually, I wasn’t a fan of Adobe Flex use, and the fact that developers decided to limit the use of it in Socrata is very interesting. It really makes me wonder why?

Well, things are changing and I really wish Kevin Merritt and Socrata best of luck achieving their goals.


  1. Well, well, well:

    First they tell you it's the answer to owning your own database.

    Then they tell you that further development are on hold, but you will have your access.

    Then they tell you that you 10 days (it has happened) to get your data off the service.

    Small and medium businesses that are hearing a siren song of saving big money by going SAAS / PAAS, better really, really get their mind right.

    For a one or two person consignment shop to use something like blist, no biggies. But, we have equally non-transparent competitors that are imploring mid sized businesses to eschew internal departmental solutions, and go the PAAS route.

    Will they allow a thrid party to confidentially inspect their accounts yo insure adequate liquidity? No. They are a private company, and that is none of your business, Mr. or Ms. business owner.

    Will they allow an industry rating agency to do a plugs out test on their server infrastructure, comms outage, security audit? No, they have a web page that they copied from some other hosting company that whitewashes the whole issue of security and audit ability.

    An industrial parts inventory business with a 10 year old AS400 (hosted or incumbent) can get adequate business continuity insurance - you cant get a penny of coverage for newer SAAS and PAAS.

    Watch for many, many new age cloud solution providers to either deadpool or give similar bogus "change in our status" press releases.

    It would be great for so many of the mid range vertical industry clients that consultants like me represent, to be able to use reliable hosted solutions - but not until the industry addresses the issue of ratings, certification, and continuity through escrow or insurability.

  2. Jane,
    Unlike Coghead, blist never offered any workflow or rules overlay on top of their database - so there are no complexities relating to migrating to another system - it would just involve exporting data out (the only things that would be missed out would be filters and some data types like photos that other apps might not support in any case). Actually, calling their app a database itself was a bit of a stretch considering that there was no way one could even link two tables within the same database together much less look up and join separate data sources.
    As far as your second query goes vis.a.vis moving away from Flex, I think this might relate to the fact that there are still several govt agencies who don't allow Flash to run on browsers within their offices - strict lock-down environments. Blist probably feels that the primary consumers of govt data would be other govt agencies rather than lay/common users and they have pivoted their decision to switch the front-end technology on this assumption.

  3. Sumanth,
    I am telling data migration won't be that easy is only because I've already tried it, and even though the system is not that sophisticated it took me a while. Besides, I didn't manage to do some stuff..

    This is what happend exactly:

  4. This is an excellent blog, an incredible amount of information regarding Software as a Service, testing of data base driven applications and in general important information from feedback. We are starting an alternative company to the now demised Coghead. What we are doing is listening to customer and comment feedback to truly understand what small businesses need in a SAAS solution. What pricing model they are comfortable with and what applications are most needed. The development team has already designed a useful data base driven application builder built on Flex technology. Now it’s time to put it to use.

    Thank You