November 13, 2013
I have been prompted to write this by the urging of a surprising number of people, startup founders, VCs, board members, friends at Square. Square aims to run a transparent company and I write this in the very same sprit.
On November 11th, 2013 I wrote about how in early August, 2012 about 14 months ago, I vigorously tried to encouraged Square to reconsider the flawed $275 Month Flat Fee price model. At the time I just tried to honestly present reality, I knew that 30 years working with merchants, math, logic and history was supporting my view. I made a clear case that this pricing model would injure Square financially and through public perception. I made it clear that history would be unkind to this very uninformed business model. This was and always is about business ideas and not people. At least I think it should not have been.
I have become accustomed to being too early in the insights I present but never quite get accustom to the people who ask for advice only to attack me personally when I give my honest insights. I was built in Newark, New Jersey and what the streets did not do to tuff me up, the abundant mix of chemical and petroleum factories reenforced it, so I have developed the skin for this stuff. Some people inside of Square and one outside advisor made my honest business advice, personal. Rather then rationally debating the facts, they took to mounting up ways to float ill will about me at the company. It did not work so well as I have developed dozens of Square friends that are still with the company and some have moved on. Last night it turn out I have a new friend that just so happens to be on Square’s board, they had a lot of questions about my past and current insights on the company.
I forgive all the people that were not ready to accept math, logic and history. I genuinely still have great respect for all involved despite all that took place.
How A Pervasive Attitude Costs Billions Of Dollars
One of the reasons I have exposed my journey with Square is to help all of us understand human nature and how it could impact business and business plans. I do not have the perspective and distance of history to really understand the way this insular attitude pervades at other startups but I know that this may be costing billions of dollars. This of course translates in time, talent and money being wasted. But the deeper impact is on the goodwill and relationship a company has with its customers. It can create a fallout that perhaps a company can never recover from.
Gravity Always Works And It Cares Not Who Violates It Or Why It Is Being Violated
I knew that the $275 Monthly Flat Fee was destined to fail. I also knew what the fallout would be and it is just starting to happen. The mob first becomes angry and then they leave, forever. The really sad thing is none of this had to happen if the company had the strength and wisdom to accept math, logic and history. It turns out that experience from empirical praxis, just like gravity, it always works and it cares not who violates it or why it is being violated. It just works.
To all of my friends at Square, I am deeply sorry, I tired to make my voice heard.
Here is how a great deal of customer good will and a company’s positive relationship with the customer can evaporate overnight:
History is Sometimes Cruel With Business Plans