Exits and Assholes (why shutting down your startup makes you a turd)

Hey there guy who just sold his startup to BigCorporate™! I hear you're shutting down the product that made you rich? Cool news, bro.

On behalf of all your loyal customers...Fuck you.

Fuck you and your shitty startup.

You stand there with your Cheshire grin, arms around your freshly minted friends. You sold out your customers and you're proud of that? You thank your fans for supporting you, and in the next breath you tell them you're no longer supporting them.

You sir, are an asshole.

I hope you and your team rot in corporate hell while you wait out your three year vesting sentence. I hope your lives are filled with meetings, reports, KPIs and more meetings. Oh and I hope they force you to install PowerPoint; you're gonna need it. And I really, really hope they make you take the "fuck it, ship it" sticker off because it's against their corporate policy. Not the swearing, the shipping.

Enjoy the company polo shirt, asshat.

But hey, don't get me wrong. Not all exiting founders are jerks like you. There are plenty of exits that are intended to grow the business, not shut it down. Selling to BigCorporate™ can mean a product will be better supported, or reach a wider audience or become a key member of a larger product family. The guys and girls that see acquisition as a means to grow their business and customer base are awesome. They're on to something so good that the acquirer wants to bring it in and put their logo on it, not shut it down. 

And here's the thing about you: BigCorporate™ don't want your customers, they don't want your brand, they don't want revenue, they don't want your business at all...they just want your team and maybe some portion of your IP.  Bottom line is, they're shutting you down because you failed to grow a business they want to keep.

Failing is ok. It happens to everyone. But as a business founder, it's never ok to fail your customers. Your customers made your startup what it is, and you turned your back on them. They took a risk to use your app, they put up with the bugs, they gave you feedback, they got bombarded with life cycle emails, they referred their friends, they tweeted how awesome you are... And you repaid them by simply switching them off.

Startup founders that create products with a view to exit rather than generating real revenue are not only doing their customers a disservice, they're doing themselves a disservice. Unless the big vision you pitched investors was "to get bought", then you failed. You got off the ride early because it got too hard, you got it wrong or because you lost faith in your vision. Instead you're now working that corporate desk job you swore you'd never work. You missed the opportunity to do something real.

But hey, congrats on the exit, bro. I'm sure your investor's wallets think of your exit as a success, but the rest of us see it for what it really is - a business failure.

P.S. The fact that this blog is posthaven is not without its irony.

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