Date   

locked Re: Pricing Changes #update

Mike Hanauer
 

Hi Mark and All,

First, thank you for creating a groups platform that has been a refreshing change from the usual. However,

I think the new model, and even changing the model in this way, will be good for Google and bad for Groups.io, Mark, and society. It's not just a model change - it feels like a signal of a changed philosophy and value system. It feels too like a trust issue.

Here are my concerns,
  1. Many have moved their groups to Groups.io because of the perceived notion that it can be trusted as offering a platform that truly values its customers and the common good. That trust is critical.
  2. Changing the model in itself creates doubt about trust. This feels like profit creep, like bait and switch.
  3. There are many groups of over 100 members that are wonderful community groups. Trying to charge these groups is a problem in many ways, especially with alternatives available.
  4. Groups grow. Going over 100 (or whatever number) now will become a burden.
  5. The fact that existing groups will be grandfathered is a recognition of this fact. 
I urge you to see the big picture here. 

Personally, I have been recommending Groups.io to potential moderators. With the new philosophy, I can no longer do so. It is feeling like bait and switch. It is feeling like just another business. I urge you to rescind the change, reconsider the values you really value, and get more creative. I think understanding customer values and trust is crucial.

I offered the following recently. It resulted in no comment, but I do feel that it should be discussed and considered as an alternative that will bring to credibility to Mark and the Groups.io platform

Mike Hanauer via groups.io <mghanauer@...>
To: main@beta.groups.io

Mon, Dec 21 at 8:23 AM

I believe Groups.io is an important resource for our society. 

How about considering becoming a non-profit and asking for donations similar to what Wikipedia does to fill in the shortfall, at least for those who are not profit making businesses?

    ~Mike

AllTheBest and thanks for listening.

    ~Mike

_._,_._,_


locked Re: Pricing Changes #update

 

To Ellen,

First of all, great message. Second, thanks for the vocabulary word (antepenultimate)! :-)
--
J

Messages are the sole opinion of the author, especially the fishy ones.
My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together. - Desmond Tutu


locked Re: Pricing Changes #update

Ellen Moody
 

I can't find the whole of my original message -- which Samuel Murrayy quoted a part of a sentence from (or it could be a whole sentence without a period at the end).  Yes I was suggesting that maybe Mark Fletcher had in mind charging the basic (now called free) groups.io all along but I didn't say he did because I cannot know that. I did not have any inference in mind beyond that, logical or intuitive or not. 

I don't understand many of the parts of Mr Murrayy's message. I gather from intuition insofar as I can understand he is saying that Mark Fletcher originally meant to build a new business model and saw groups.io as groups intent on business operations.  Really?

I am no businesswoman, have never worked in private industry except decades ago as an Executive secretary in a (I could see profoundly corrupt) corporation in the US for 2 weeks and just before that for 6 months in a business in the UK (not a bad place) where I was a personal assistant. In neither place did I ever have anything to do with any digital stuff: this was 1968-69.  My three groups are not businesses. We are groups made up of (it was originally hoped by me and is true in part) of friends reading books together.  No one is making any money, no one is making any profit; to participate in such a thing in the academy (where I used to  work) is infra dig, in fact it is looked up as useless and used to give you lower status.  Nowadays it depends on where it is coming from and who is in it.  But still tenured people think you are mad to do this kind of thing. The other lists I am on as a member are just the same -- all reading groups, or I know of knitting groups, or people sharing like opinions (feminist -- yes there are still feminists in the world -- lists about womens' problems)

 So if there are services given and taken away because they are business ones I don't recognize this. 

Some of Mr Murrayy's sentences floor me:   "I'll wager Mark's main problem isn't getting money from basic groups that are truly communities, but rather getting money from basic groups who are free-loading in a community habitat for non-community-like purposes ...:
What could this possibly mean?  I understand the individual words; I even know the usual meaning of habitat but what are "the non-community like purposes" he is impugning?  Who are the people who are "target users for paid services?"

How is the new pricing structure going to kill groups.io as a community? I don't understand. I was hoping and do think my three lists of active members (I concede that some maybe many of the silent members are not truly members of our community; they are mostly what's called free riders) are small communities. Yes to ask us to pay would destroy us because most of the people I fear would not pay.  Some might but not enough if the price were prohibitive for them.

In the antepenultimate paragraph (third from the last) I gather services seen as for businesses are in premium groups.  We still have files and photos in our basic/free group.  We never had any wiki that I know of.  I don't know what you mean by many of your words --  like database

I wish people would stop using the word "brand" and all its cognates -- rebranding and so on. Vague buzz noises.  Mark changed the names of things and yes that can stigmatize. To call a group hitherto named Basic to Free in our capitalist society stigmatizes the Free group.  I have heard a certain individual repeatedly call public schools "government schools" - wow does that stigmatize 200 years of progress for enabling all the members of our society to go to school, learn to read and write and many skills and gain knowledge of all kinds. It is a profoundly sickening stigmatizing.  But I am not a brand.  I am an individual with a name. 

I don't know what most basic groups have in mind if they have anything in mind. From the 3 I moderate/run and the 3 I join in on I think the people don't have the money to pay anything considerable. They probably already as individuals have enough monthly and yearly payments for what they may consider they need -- like water, electricity, gas ...

I have answered Mr Murrayy because his message distressed me:  it seems to impose on me and my groups ulterior motives we don't have and impose on Mark Fletcher various motives and goals I am not sure he has, all of which tend to corrode trust and belief in good decent motives. The worst thing in our society as to values over these past 4 years and more is the corrosion of trust and belief there can be good pro-social goals between individuals and groups of people.  

Ellen Moody





On Tue, Dec 29, 2020 at 5:10 AM Samuel Murrayy <samuelmurray@...> wrote:
On Mon, Dec 28, 2020 at 06:22 PM, Ellen Moody wrote:
I am told in this one these changes are "industry standard,"
so these pricing strategies were known originally.

Although Mark did mention a per-member or per-user pricing structure a year ago, I don't think your logic follows.   Mark's comment that per-user pricing is "industry standard" is just his personal opinion.  There isn't really an industry standard for services such as Groups.io.  It all depends on how you classify Groups.io.

If you classify Groups.io as a messenger service and further classify it as a business-to-business or company-internal messenger service, then yes: per-member pricing appears to be the norm, but that makes sense because the employer pays for his employees to be able to use the service, or because the group owner or group members make money from using the service (i.e. they will make less money if they don't use the service).  However, my impression is that in 99% of cases in Groups.io, group members are not the employees of the group owner, nor do the group owners or group members have any reasonably quantifiable financial benefit from their membership, so it can be argued that this classification is irrelevant to Groups.io despite it being a "messenger" service.

I have sympathy with Mark -- I speculate that he was hoping that by adding business-like services to Groups.io he could exploit Groups.io in that particular niche, but if he intends to go that route, then he needs to ensure that customers who can pay do pay, and this means reducing the value of free or basic groups to a level that makes it unsuited for any such commercial purposes except in the miniature.  The problem with Groups.io is that there is nothing that distinguishes the community use from commercial use (although Mark did try, by removing certain barely business-like features from the free groups), and you can't just rely on people's honesty that they will register a "business" account when they [start to] make commercial use of it.

I see a lot of posts here about donations this and donations that, but I'll wager Mark's main problem isn't getting money from basic groups that are truly communities, but rather getting money from basic groups who are free-loading in a community habitat for non-community-like purposes.  I mean, solving the problem of how to give donations isn't going to solve Mark's main problem of how to get money from people who are target users for paid services.

To get back to your original comment: while it may have been known to some that some kind of per-user pricing structure was in the pipeline, "these pricing strategies" were not "known originally".  I don't think many people here considered that Groups.io would change the pricing structure to one that essentially kills it as a "community".  But perhaps the writing could have been seen, if you look at the history of basic, premium and enterprise groups on Groups.io:

In 2015 and 2016, premium groups were essentially the same as basic groups, except 10 GB of storage instead of 1 GB of storage, and enterprise groups were envisaged as some kind of privately branded Groups.io service (own domain name, own home page, presumably own branding, essentially unlimited control, and more storage).  By 2017, business-like features began to be added to premium groups -- RSVP tracking, membership tracking, direct adding. By 2018, premium groups also got API access, locking groups, banning domains, reposting, editing members, so the shift was clear that while premium groups previously were simply community groups with higher limits, now premium groups got more aimed at business use.  2019 saw calendar sync, event summaries and "donations" added to premium groups.

Then came the whole Yahoogroups closure and with it some emergency pricing changes (the price for moving groups increased 20-fold, and this had [unintended?] knock-on effects on premium group pricing), but the nature of basic, premium and enterprise groups remained the same.  I suspect that this sudden increase in membership prompted Mark to rethink his business model and focus more aggressively on coaxing basic groups to choose to become premium.  April 2020 saw subgroups become a premium service.  May 2020 saw size limit increases for premium groups.  A big change came in September 2020 when files, photos, wiki and database got rebranded as a "collaboration suite" and removed from the basic groups altogether.

Perhaps Mark thought that stripping basic groups of services and making these same services available in premium groups would convince many basic groups to become premium groups, but the sad fact (that Mark must have realised in the end) is that most basic groups have no intention of paying... ever.

Samuel

Disclaimer: I don't know Mark personally, and my conjecture about what he might have been thinking is just that: conjecture.  The same applies to my impressions about what other people might have been thinking.


locked Re: Pricing Changes #update

Samuel Murrayy
 

On Mon, Dec 28, 2020 at 06:22 PM, Ellen Moody wrote:
I am told in this one these changes are "industry standard,"
so these pricing strategies were known originally.

Although Mark did mention a per-member or per-user pricing structure a year ago, I don't think your logic follows.   Mark's comment that per-user pricing is "industry standard" is just his personal opinion.  There isn't really an industry standard for services such as Groups.io.  It all depends on how you classify Groups.io.

If you classify Groups.io as a messenger service and further classify it as a business-to-business or company-internal messenger service, then yes: per-member pricing appears to be the norm, but that makes sense because the employer pays for his employees to be able to use the service, or because the group owner or group members make money from using the service (i.e. they will make less money if they don't use the service).  However, my impression is that in 99% of cases in Groups.io, group members are not the employees of the group owner, nor do the group owners or group members have any reasonably quantifiable financial benefit from their membership, so it can be argued that this classification is irrelevant to Groups.io despite it being a "messenger" service.

I have sympathy with Mark -- I speculate that he was hoping that by adding business-like services to Groups.io he could exploit Groups.io in that particular niche, but if he intends to go that route, then he needs to ensure that customers who can pay do pay, and this means reducing the value of free or basic groups to a level that makes it unsuited for any such commercial purposes except in the miniature.  The problem with Groups.io is that there is nothing that distinguishes the community use from commercial use (although Mark did try, by removing certain barely business-like features from the free groups), and you can't just rely on people's honesty that they will register a "business" account when they [start to] make commercial use of it.

I see a lot of posts here about donations this and donations that, but I'll wager Mark's main problem isn't getting money from basic groups that are truly communities, but rather getting money from basic groups who are free-loading in a community habitat for non-community-like purposes.  I mean, solving the problem of how to give donations isn't going to solve Mark's main problem of how to get money from people who are target users for paid services.

To get back to your original comment: while it may have been known to some that some kind of per-user pricing structure was in the pipeline, "these pricing strategies" were not "known originally".  I don't think many people here considered that Groups.io would change the pricing structure to one that essentially kills it as a "community".  But perhaps the writing could have been seen, if you look at the history of basic, premium and enterprise groups on Groups.io:

In 2015 and 2016, premium groups were essentially the same as basic groups, except 10 GB of storage instead of 1 GB of storage, and enterprise groups were envisaged as some kind of privately branded Groups.io service (own domain name, own home page, presumably own branding, essentially unlimited control, and more storage).  By 2017, business-like features began to be added to premium groups -- RSVP tracking, membership tracking, direct adding. By 2018, premium groups also got API access, locking groups, banning domains, reposting, editing members, so the shift was clear that while premium groups previously were simply community groups with higher limits, now premium groups got more aimed at business use.  2019 saw calendar sync, event summaries and "donations" added to premium groups.

Then came the whole Yahoogroups closure and with it some emergency pricing changes (the price for moving groups increased 20-fold, and this had [unintended?] knock-on effects on premium group pricing), but the nature of basic, premium and enterprise groups remained the same.  I suspect that this sudden increase in membership prompted Mark to rethink his business model and focus more aggressively on coaxing basic groups to choose to become premium.  April 2020 saw subgroups become a premium service.  May 2020 saw size limit increases for premium groups.  A big change came in September 2020 when files, photos, wiki and database got rebranded as a "collaboration suite" and removed from the basic groups altogether.

Perhaps Mark thought that stripping basic groups of services and making these same services available in premium groups would convince many basic groups to become premium groups, but the sad fact (that Mark must have realised in the end) is that most basic groups have no intention of paying... ever.

Samuel

Disclaimer: I don't know Mark personally, and my conjecture about what he might have been thinking is just that: conjecture.  The same applies to my impressions about what other people might have been thinking.


locked Re: Pricing Changes #update

KWKloeber
 

Marv ~

Apologies, spellcheck changed my reply to you to "Marc".  Damn Seri.

-Ken


locked Re: Pricing Changes #update

Laurence Taylor
 

billsf9c <OOWONBS@Netscape.net> wrote:

The problem may not be so much the amount but collection... (with a
side of sticker-shock.) Buck a person may be ok per list but 50+
cents to mail it in ranckles folks. We don't all use plastic. Paypal
might sorta work if they take checks.
Can you use BACS (Credit Transfer)? Most banks can do this online or
over the phone. You just need the recipient's account details. I pay
nearly all my bills this way.

--
rgds
LAurence
<><


moderated Re: Sent Invitations - search field #suggestion

Duane
 

On Mon, Dec 28, 2020 at 11:39 AM, Steven Knowles wrote:
A feature that I've found would be handy would be for a moderator / owner to be able to search the Sent Invitees log.
A tad more work, but you can find the information in the group Activity Log unless/until this is added.  Select "Invited Member" from the Actions list and search.  If you're looking for a specific person, use their email address (up to the @ sign) in the Search box.  I don't think you could use the Display Name though.

Duane


locked Re: Pricing Changes #update

billsf9c
 

The problem may not be so much the amount but collection... (with a side of sticker-shock.) Buck a person may be ok per list but 50+ cents to mail it in ranckles folks.  We don't all use plastic. Paypal might sorta work if they take checks.

If the donor site becomes free for this one purpose maybe folks will have a relative with plastic - although I can pay a bill over the phone or 'net with a checking account. Sometimes they want $1.35 without a human and 4.95 with one.

I have 1 beehive. For years I was a yahoo member of all surrounding counties. Gradually half moved to use private forum services. Membership being 20-35$. I can't afford that for 3 different groups, (whose member-benefits I cannot use anyway, even if local,) much less 10 groups.

I audit so many groups. Many are very low activity. Maybe like some cell phone systems. Pay X for a base 10MBytes. Or 100 for unlimited, per annum, with something inbetween.

In a sense, this business should get better w Covid - but as subscribers are suffering financially, maybe Mark can get Covid business assistance. 

At $50 total a year to cover just 5 of the 25ish groups I'm in... I'm gone. No can do. Old vet barely scraping by.

BillSF9c


moderated Sent Invitations - search field #suggestion

Steven Knowles
 

Apologies if this has previously been suggested. I did search past topics within this group however I don't know whether the search function accommodates boolean operators and so don't know how effective my search has been.

A feature that I've found would be handy would be for a moderator / owner to be able to search the Sent Invitees log. For example, if I wanted to find out whether I'd already sent an invitation to John Smith, it'd be useful to be able to search John or Smith or "John Smith" from within the Sent Invitees page. Rather than scroll page by page.


locked Re: Pricing Changes #update

Ellen Moody
 

Okay.  Now thank you.  These changes take place January 18th, 2021. I am told in this one these changes are "industry standard,"
so these pricing strategies were known originally.

I haven't read them because it would take time and I would probably have questions (not understand everything) and since
they do not (I hope "not as yet") apply.

Ellen Moody


locked Re: Pricing Changes #update

Peter Cook
 

On Mon, Dec 28, 2020 at 12:10 PM, Ellen Moody wrote:
There were no dates cited.
Ellen, it's in the first message of the thread, here: https://beta.groups.io/g/main/message/27191 

              "For groups upgraded after Monday, January 18th, 2021 at 9am Pacific Time,..."

{Pete


locked Re: Pricing Changes #update

Ellen Moody
 

Peter, that main message did not tell me the date.  There were no dates cited.  Do I have to go through that whole thread (it's long) to
 discover the date (s) all the new stuff is to begin?

Ellen


moderated Re: All photos show "Taken" date as 12/31/1969 #bug

 

On Mon, Dec 28, 2020 at 7:35 AM Peter Cook <peterscottcook@...> wrote:
Every photo in every album in my groups (including some taken yesterday) have a "Taken" date of 12/31/1969. Discussed on GMF  - https://groups.io/g/GroupManagersForum/message/35939 .

This should be fixed now.

Thanks,
Mark 


locked Re: Pricing Changes #update

Peter Cook
 

On Mon, Dec 28, 2020 at 12:00 PM, Peter Cook wrote:
Ellen, here are the details: https://beta.groups.io/g/main/message/2719 .
Sorry, here: https://beta.groups.io/g/main/message/27191 


locked Re: Pricing Changes #update

Peter Cook
 

On Mon, Dec 28, 2020 at 11:55 AM, Ellen Moody wrote:
Can I ask when will the new price changes and whatever else goes with it go into effect?
Ellen, here are the details: https://beta.groups.io/g/main/message/2719 .

Pete


locked Re: Pricing Changes #update

Ellen Moody
 

Can I ask when will the new price changes and whatever else goes with it go into effect?
Although my 3 lists are grandmothered in, I'd like to know when these changes are going
to happen.

Ellen Moody


locked Re: Pricing Changes #update

KWKloeber
 

Marc


<<<But when the 1001th customer arrives your capacity is exceeded, performance tumbles and you start having outages. Then you have a problem.>>>


Nice explanation/model.  Thank you (my comment about adding 1 to 400 was obviously tongue-in-cheek.)  But as I said, what you say above is true in the fictional model only when #1,001 has activity that’s the same as the 1,000.  There’s nil cost to add 500 or 1,000, if they are all essentially non-users of bandwidth or storage (infrastructure.)  Storing names and email addresses and flipping around an email is ‘near zero’ cost I would imagine, in terms of hard costs. 

In our situation I described, I wouldn’t expect any substantive cost difference whether our membership was 400 or 1600, when there are only 2 dozen active members. 

(Discounting the cost of stringing cable to the house) you can have 100 or 10,000 cable subscribers if no more than the same number of TVs are turned on at one time.

Am I missing something fundamental?

I think of gio as a sort of community, opposed to Y!G or GG, and want to see Marc succeed for many reasons.  On the other hand an increase of nearly a grand a year is impossible to make work for, I fear, too many for it to succeed and — although we’re gf’d in now and I’m not the owner — I’d hate for our group to be in the situation of needing to migrate again from another failed service like Y!G. 

Ken K


moderated All photos show "Taken" date as 12/31/1969 #bug

Peter Cook
 

Every photo in every album in my groups (including some taken yesterday) have a "Taken" date of 12/31/1969. Discussed on GMF  - https://groups.io/g/GroupManagersForum/message/35939 .

Pete


locked Re: Pricing Changes #update

Marv Waschke
 

On Fri, Dec 25, 2020 at 09:13 PM, KWKloeber wrote:
Since this was the free service that was better than sliced bread, I think Mark might provide an explanation as to how the cost is closely related to the # of members.  i.e., How does 401 members cost 55¢ more? What costs money, seems logical to me, is activity, not so much the number of members. 
Just thought folks might like to know a little more about how this business works. I don't know about Groups.io, but I have experience with the economics of providing online services. The costs are usually stepwise, not linear and not easily allocated to the number of customers.

Putting it more concretely, suppose you provide an online service to 500 customers that costs you, the service operator, $1000 per month and you charge your customers $4 per month, giving you $1000 net per month with 500 customers. (Revenue=500x$4= $2000. Cost=$1000. Net = Revenue - Cost = $2000 - $1000 = $1000).

Providing services to 501 customers is also $1000 per month. In fact, providing services to 1000 customers is likely to also be very close to $1000 per month. Why? Because you use the same infrastructure (software, compute, storage, network) to provide for 500 as 1000 customers. There is little difference between using a sliver of available capacity and using most of available capacity. That means that adding customers costs you, the service operator, almost nothing. For every dollar your customers pay, that dollar goes straight to your net. At 1000 customers, your net is now $3000.  (Revenue = 1000 x $4 = $4000. Cost = $1000. Net = $4000 - $1000.) Not bad.

But when the 1001th customer arrives your capacity is exceeded, performance tumbles and you start having outages. Then you have a problem. You have to add capacity or lose customers. Enough capacity so that you don't have to run through the same drill next week, but if your revenue is based on the number of subscribers, that 1001th subscriber will only add $4 to your net, which won't buy any additional capacity at all. So you dip into your reserves (you do have reserves don't you?) and raise your capacity by a factor of ten. The economy of scale makes your cost for 10,000 customer capacity only $5000, not the $10,000 you might expect. That looks great because at 10,000 customers you would net $35,000 per month (Revenue = 10,000 x $4 = $40,000. Cost = $5000. Net = $40,000 - $5000 = $35,000.) Quite a jump from $3000 a month net.

Holy Mackerel Batman! This looks like a money machine!

The catch at 1001 customers, you are losing money to the tune of $996 per month. (Revenue = 1001 x $4 = $4004. Cost = $5000. Net = $4004 - $5000 =. $996 LOSS). Your net is underwater until you take on an additional 200 customers. (Rev = 1200 x $4 = $5000. Cost - $5000. Net =$5000 - $5000 = 0). There's money to be made, but you have to get your paying customers above 1200 before your losses drive you out of business. A traditional business solution in this kind of bind is the "loss leader" to hustle customers in the door.  In fact, free services are more business savvy than traditional loss leaders because there's less affect on cash flow. And you can sometimes use your free customers as a sort of buffer for testing while shielding your paying customers. Adding 10 free customers does not increase your cost, while attracting 20 paying customers with 10 free gets you closer to that magic point where your net begins to emerge from the sea of red.

Real life is more complicated than my cooked example and cloud computing has taken some of the sting out of excess capacity (even cloud fees are usually stepwise), but the general principle is valid: online costs tend to stay constant as the number of users increase, then jump disproportionately when a threshold is crossed. Business models must eventually reflect that reality. Most past online service business models, including Mark's, have been less than future-proof and times are changing.  There are lots of ways this nut can be cracked, and I expect to see a lot of different ways in the next year or so.

The discussion here is all toward better models, and that is good. Best, Marv


locked Re: Pricing Changes #update

toki
 

On 25/12/2020 17:22, Charles Roberts wrote:
I would be willing to bet that there is a LONG line of folks salivating to be
able to start putting ads on Gio. Doubt if any soliciting would be needed......ever.
It is called list sponsorship. I don't know the ROI a sponsor would expect, for an annual payment of US$3,000. (One person I know that sponsors such things, expects a dollar or sponsorship money to generate at least 5 dollars of gross revenue.)

Hunt around, and list-owners might find a firm or two willing to sponsor the list. This can be done

jonathon

2821 - 2840 of 30035