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"Don't fake the plural"

Eric Sink in his latest article states that micro ISV's should not present themselves to be bigger than they actually are (in terms of # of employees, etc).

Does everyone agree?  If I'm the only person backing the product, is it better to to present Widget A from XYZ, Inc. (complete with info, support, and billing departmental email addresses), or does Widget A developed by Joe Smith sound better?

Blah
Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Unless you plan on staying as one person, having separate contact emails, etc, isn't dishonest at all, and supports "scaling" much better for obvious reasons.

One thing Mr. Sink mentioned that I thought was a bit flawed was the observation that single-person companies use plurals, while mega corporations use singulars. I think that in the latter case mega companies know that you know that they're a mega company, with all of the benefits that entails (for instance theoretically stability), so it is beneficial for them to also present a personal "we're people too!" front. In the former case, the single-person company, people have no idea how big or small you are, so it's entirely the front that builds the customer impression. As most buyers, especially businesses, distrust the stability of small firms it's obvious why there is a tendency to pluralize.

Of course you can take it too far - I remember a particular thread on one board discussing the inflated pay and merits of CEOs, and a couple of "I'm a CEO and I work hard for my money...blah blah blah" posts appeared. Some probing discovered that they are the CEO of a organization of 1 (sometimes maybe 2 or 3). Such inanity such as using the titles of mega corps is dishonest and, well, lame.

Dennis Forbes
Wednesday, September 01, 2004

I buy quite alot of audio software (VSTis and hosts and stuff) and in my experience the smalltimers offer way better support than the bigtimers. So, I prefer to buy from single developers or very small teams. Also as an early adopter and programmer, I sometimes even develop a semi personal relationship with the devs (Giving good bug reports go along way here) which allows me to influence the future of the product. All in all I get way better bang for the buck.

Having said that, if I was buying some type of software that I didnt have any experience with, I would probably prefer a larger vendor. It boils down to confidence I guess.

Are your customers confident, or will they need an authority to trust?

Eric Debois
Wednesday, September 01, 2004

CEO is not a title reserved for mega-corporations.  It is simply the title for the executive in charge of day to day management of a corporation.  If you are the only one in your corporation, guess what, that's you.

Oren Miller
Wednesday, September 01, 2004

I've run a micro ISV for some years and have used both. The problem with "I" is you do get people who try to enter into some kind of "relationship" and blab on and on seemingly for hours about their product ideas,  or what they want to see in the next version, or they try to weasel a free copy of the newest version. When the email is addressed to you, it is hard to just ignore when you're too busy, so you can easily spend a full day just responding to 50 individual emailers. They all might mean well, but it really takes time.

With an impression of "we" and generic "support@company.com," at least they don't feel so bad when nobody responds, since most "big" companies don't work at that level.

MicroISV Lou
Wednesday, September 01, 2004

"If you are the only one in your corporation..."

In the U.S., you can't incorporate if there's only one of you (a "P.C." might be an exception, but wouldn't apply to an ISV).

Mr. O
Wednesday, September 01, 2004

"CEO is not a title reserved for mega-corporations. "

Right, but it sounds inane when applied to small organizations and publicized as one's role - a chief executive office of a executive division encompassing...one person. I suppose such a person is also the COO, the CIO, the CTO, the CRD, the Director, the Managing Director, and the Owner.

Dennis Forbes
Wednesday, September 01, 2004


You can incorporate with ANY number of people.  It doesn't take anything except designating a legal agent to represent the corporation.

It can even be a single person...


For example, one high profile Senator and current US VP candidate incorporated a business in order to take some of a lawsuit payout as a divident instead of income...

(Therefore avoiding the higher levels of taxation that exist on a personal income level and Social Security taxes.)

KC
Wednesday, September 01, 2004

"You can incorporate with ANY number of people.  It doesn't take anything except designating a legal agent to represent the corporation."

What state are you talking about? Every state we looked at required a board of directors (besides a local agent), with various restrictions about who could double up in what positions. You can file for incorporation yourself and submit your bylaws, but until you've followed up with the list of board members, it's only provisional.

Mr. O
Wednesday, September 01, 2004

This is just an example where knowing your market is preferable to following the generalized advice of faraway writers.

If your product is a solitaire game, or a web utility, or a website, or any other artifact that is cheap enough to be bought on a whim (or at least cheap enough to get thrown on someone's Visa without too much thought), then being personable and friendly, and saying 'I' instead of 'we' will probably benefit your image.

However, if your product is anything that is marketed to companies, and is likely to be subjected to a purchasing process, saying 'I' will get you stopped at the door.  Corporate mentalities are *very* cautious and conservative, and will shirk away from anything that looks like a one (or two, or five) man shop.

Granted, the latter is pretty rare, at least in the "micro-ISV" world, but it does happen, especially in very narrow verticals that just can't support a super-mega-corporation.

Chas Emerick ( http://www.snowtide.com )
Wednesday, September 01, 2004

In the state of Indiana there is no minimum number to the board members.  It is entirely possible to incorporate here.  I've done it.

(Not that I've had any sort of success at all, but that's a completely different story.  Just pointing out that it's possible by example.)

Aaron F Stanton
Wednesday, September 01, 2004

I know a guy who runs his own business.  He is the one and only employee.  He has business cards that say:

His Name
CEO

How utterly pretentious and retarded.

Bob's Your Uncle
Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Many, maybe most businesses incorporate in a state a like Delaware that doesn't take corporate income tax. Your business need not reside in the state to incorporate there.

ronk!
Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Bob,

Although you could technically title the owner of a ine-employee company anything (CEO, CIO, janitor, sr. developer), what else would you reasonably call them?

KC
Wednesday, September 01, 2004

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