It’s been a while coming. Here’s the whole story.
If you haven’t been aware of Statamic Unlimited, it’s okay. We never pitched it super hard, but it always felt like the kind of thing I would have wanted back in my freelance/agency days. It’s only with hindsight that we can see the weight of the inherent flaws in its design and terms.
First and seemingly unrelated, we designed Statamic’s license check system to never shut a site down if our servers are offline, or if your site can’t connect to the internet, or anything like that. We firmly believe that self-hosted software should never have an external dependency for uptime and reliability. It should simply run forever (exception given to the certain and inevitable zombie apocalypse), or until you forget to renew your domain name. That’s out of control.
Next, and the whole reason we started Unlimited, we wanted to lower the cost barrier to using it on all your projects, all your clients, especially low-budget ones. Use it for everything! Statamic all the things! However, in an effort to keep that barrier to entry (and cash flow) low, we also made Unlimited available as monthly subscription….and herein lies the loophole that was unfortunately exploited at a scale we never expected.
If your sites wouldn’t shut down or incur any negative repercussions, combined with the ability to turn Unlimited off/on at will, why keep an active subscription at all?
Unlimited’s terms were this: build and launch literally unlimited sites as long as you maintain a subscription. If you canceled the subscription, all live sites would become unlicensed and require and ask for a new key.
We saw a lot of on/off activity as people launched a stockpile of sites and switched their plan off again. As if it only mattered on launch day I guess? Perhaps it was confusion around the terms, perhaps it was willful exploitation, or maybe some other type of miscommunication but that’s not how this was designed to work. Sadly, just because we wouldn’t abuse a system like this doesn’t mean others wouldn’t. 😢
There was one other aspect. If you ever stopped building enough sites to break even on the cost (which was 3 sites per-year on Freelance and 12 on Agency), it got expensive quickly, effectively paying more than a site-license fee. This made Unlimited a losing proposition in some cases, going against every reason we offered it in the first place. We were fine “taking a hit” on the potential revenue in order to make Statamic a more accessible tool for developers, and to have consistent revenue we could count on, month-after-month.
No matter how we approach this idea (with the power of hindsight), we still run into the “what happens if/when I cancel my subscription one day” problem, which has no great solution. Customers need to come first, and our customer’s customers shouldn’t have to suffer for any reason, least of all the unrelated and delayed success (or lack thereof) of a freelance/agency business. They just wanted a good website that stays online and is easy to maintain. It’s possible they didn’t even know how the site was licensed in the first place.
The very fact that there was a combination of events that could occur leading to completely negative outcome should have been the red flag we needed from the very beginning.
So there you have it. Another failed experiment in the name of searching for a sustainable small business model. I’m sure it won’t be the last!
For those still on Unlimited
Nothing changes. We’ll take care of you! You can stay on Unlimited as long as you like, as long as you follow the terms. If you decide that it isn’t the right solution for you, we’ll be more than happy to convert however many dollars you’ve spent into standard site licenses (with a discount factor for volume). Just send us an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we’ll work it out together and hug it out.
And for those of you who have been honest and faithful keeping your card up to date and your subscription active, we thank you. You were exactly the people we designed this for, and we’re happy you’ve been able to take advantage of it. I’m glad it worked for you. Keep building those sites!
“But I was about to sign up!”
We realize you may have been planning to sign up just as soon as a project was finished, or next quarter, or something like that. It happens. We would be happy to schedule a phone or a Skype call with you and talk about the options. We’re willing to make a few exceptions in the near future, and who knows, maybe one of you has a genius idea or angle we never thought of. You never know!
“Now that cost barrier is higher again and I am sad and have begun eating cake.”
Aw man, I know. We’ve been eating cake too. And crow.
We’re working on another, more sustainable approach to discounting licenses, one with a sliding scale based on volume. If you own a bunch of licenses, the price will go down. As you buy more, it goes down a bit more, and so on. The licenses will stay perpetual and eliminate any future issues with terms and fair use. It’s clean and simple. Just how we like things. More on that in the near future.
What are your thoughts?
We’d love to hear what you think about all this. Much of this decision has happened in a vacuum , looking at data, reports, and logs. There are a lot of unlicensed sites out there right now, and if magically somehow they all bought themselves a valid license, Statamic’s growth trajectory would look drastically different, in a really, really great way. But we’re preaching to choir here on the blog. You all are truly a fantastic community and we promise we’ll be continuing to make Statamic better ever day. We have some really revolutionary stuff coming next year. I almost can’t contain my excitement.
The best thing we can do in the mean time is to keep putting you folks first, so that’s what we’re going to do. We are after all, first and foremost, without exception, with many commas, and occasional run-on sentences, gentlemen.