Dear Timmy: San Francisco magazine, Sept. 4, 2015

Dear Timmy An open letter to Tim Lincecum on the occasion of his probable Giants farewell. By Dan Fost | September 4, 2015 It’s painful to think of this as a farewell letter,...

Dan Fost

I can get Satisfaction

I come across a lot of startups in my work as a technology journalist, and quite often I can’t tell if they have any shot of making it. I admire the passion, but I know that they face many hurdles, and many will fail.

 I don’t know if Get Satisfaction, the startup that I profiled in today’s New York Times, will hit it big either, but I do feel that the folks behind the company are onto something big. And that’s the notion that in the networked economy, companies no longer control the discussion about their products. Customers are increasingly in the driver’s seat, writing on blogs and their own Web sites aimed at different products. 

 Smart companies will listen to their customers, and embrace this new transparency. Get Satisfaction is giving these companies a way to do just that.

 The other fun thing for me, in writing this story, was catching up with Thor and Amy Muller, who I knew at their old company, Rubyred Labs. Thor told the story of Get Satisfaction’s inspiration in a silly side project the Mullers had started at Rubyred. Called Valleyschwag, people could pay $15 a month and get a care package of Web companies’ t-shirts, stickers, buttons and other paraphernalia. When the blogosphere touted it, it took off, and Valleyschwag had 2,000 paying customers in the first six weeks. The Mullers and their partner Jonathan Grubb were overwhelmed. Eighty percent of customer issues were repetitive, and in some cases the community solved the problem before the Mullers could get to it, giving birth to the idea for Get Satisfaction. (Jonathan is moving to L.A. to keep running Rubyred while the Mullers teamed with Lane Becker on Get Satisfaction.)

About Dan Fost

Dan Fost is a freelance writer in the San Francisco Bay Area whose credits include Forbes, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, USA Today and San Francisco magazine. He specializes in technology, but branches out into baseball and other features. Dan’s books, "Giants Baseball Experience" and “Giants Past and Present,” about San Francisco's championship baseball team and its New York antecedents, were published by MVP Books in 2014 and 2010. As a staff writer at the San Francisco Chronicle for nine years, he had a front row seat at the rise and fall of the dotcoms, as well as their resurrection in the form of Web 2.0. In a lengthy career in newspapers, he has covered sports, social ventures, the environment, education, police, business, and politics. He is a native of New Jersey and a graduate of Boston University. He lives in Marin County, Calif., with his wife and son.
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One Response to I can get Satisfaction

  1. Amy Muller says:

    Thanks for the great article, Dan. We’re excited about what we’re doing — and the way the game is changing in customer-company relationships. We’ve designed a first version of an open-source statement of values, known as the Company-Customer Pact, that we’d love further input on from the community at large – whether customer, company representative or both. The Pact wiki can be found at http://www.ccpact.com/

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