I have written elsewhere about my frustrations over the demise of Posterous. It's now three days away and I have received yet another email reminding me to get my content off their site. Fortunately this time Posterous has a plan and a tool to enable its users to vacate its system. The whole mess bums me out thought. While not a prolific blogger, I really enjoyed the service and found their original model of email-to-blog profoundly simple and elegant. The problem is Posterous was a service without a plan or stream of income.
As a developer you can build cool stuff, but without a way to pay for the commodities needed to run it you wind up operating at someone else's mercy. So when they get tired of their failed investment they either shut you down or sell you off, throwing the entire product you've been working on up in the air. In the case of Posterous, Twitter wanted awesome development talent. I get that. Having functioned on the hiring side of software development I can tell you inconclusively it is tough to find top notch developers. So it makes sense to me that rather than search for them Twitter would just buy them.
Unfortunately the fiscal irresponsibility of Posterous has left it's users in a lurch. I don't blame their CEO for selling, I blame him for starting the product in the first place. If I were him, making no money on my product, I would sell too. Why not? Better to sell then to fizzle away into irrelevance. People have to start thinking about this when they start a tech company. They need to develop with a business plan, not hope that one catches up to them later. Have a great idea for a start up? Awesome! Please don't build it until you can pay for it or at the very least know how you are going to pay for it.
The worst part of a closure like this is that it breeds distrust. What services can I put my information on without worrying about them closing up? Will said service hold my data hostage from me when they do shutdown? And what obligations does a company like Posterous have to my privacy once they have closed the door. These questions only cause me to hold my breath every time a new service pops up. Yeah, it may look cool - but is it worth the risk as a user? What this in turn does is hurt the legitimate business that has an awesome idea and a business plan. That to me is just sad.