Ever thought you could be a star... or at least the most famous kid in your school, your neighborhood? it's showtime, folks!
Or maybe you could be a producer, eh? run your own talent contest, find the next Kelly Clarkson, they get famous... you get rich?
Well, your fifteen seconds of fame has arrived... online at Bix.com, that is.
i'll confess -- i SO wish i could have grown up to be a great dancer, singer, or musician. I started dancing at age 7, was singing in a choir at age 8, and was playing piano & cello at 9. i acted in plays & musicals in grade school, ran the stage band for a musical tour in junior high, and even made all-state choir in high school. i sang madrigals & barbershop, played jazz & baroque music on the piano, and danced like i was the funkiest white boy alive. a legend in my own mind ;)
i probably never made the A-list, but maybe if there was a talent contest for my little fishbowl then i might have been the biggest fish once or twice. everybody can dream, can't they? at least my dream ended up staying in the family -- instead of becoming a famous musician, i just married one.
so when my friends Mike & Leonard asked me to take a look at Bix and help be an advisor for the company, i jumped at the chance :) little did they know how incredibly insane my childhood had been, filled with tortured fantasies of not quite becoming that rock star with the big hair... yikes.
if you've ever wanted the chance to be the most famous kid on your block... or the most famous producer at your university... or even the toughest Simon Cowell -- well now you can.
whatever your musical or photographic passion, whether you're a star or only a faint flame, now Bix will let you show off all your talents for your huge fan club out there -- that's right, you, your mom, and your dog. you rock!
i got a new credit card recently -- the old one i had expired. note the credit card number didn't change, nor did my address... just the expiration date. that's it. happens all the time, about once every 2-3 years. i have 3 credit cards, so let's say it happens once a year. i'm guessing at least several hundred million other people have this same experience annually.
however, GoDaddy thought this was justification for locking out my account, preventing renewal of several domains, and making it nearly impossible for me to reset my password and/or recover account access without spending a solid half-hour on the line with tech support (and then it still didn't work, i had to call back a second time).
after finally getting my password reset, the customer service rep tells me i might want to change the password using internet explorer rather than firefox. he wasn't sure it would work very well with firefox, and that internet explorer was the most commonly used browser. yes, that's right... he's telling me the firefox browser that recently registered ~15% market share in the US -- several million users -- might not be a reliable option for use with their site. for a company in the web hosting business, that's an incredible statement to make.
now i'm not a browser bigot, and i used to always use Internet Explorer (and still do) in order to do testing for the largest possible audience. however, when GoDaddy customer service questions the use of a product with double-digit market share, i'm thinking Bob Parsons isn't watching where the ship is headed anymore.
i wonder if he uses the site? does he somehow miss the fact that it's ugly as sin, and twice as confusing? if so, why doesn't he do something about it? if not, what planet is he from that he thinks the current site design is a good idea, either for customers or revenue or the business?
i used to be a big GoDaddy fan, however recently i'm getting pretty negative about several issues with them:
1) the site is godawful ugly & unnecessarily complex. any user interface designer worth a damn would have made this a lot easier to use years ago. my read on this is either a) they're incompetent at design, b) they can't hire anyone good to help them, or c) some higher-level exec is calling the shots and making stupid decisions. any of these options is bad, and as a result the company will lose and/or frustrate customers, not to mention confuse them and lose potential revenue.
2) in balancing security against convenience, convenience lost... and then so did security. in trying to make the system more secure, they've actually made it less so. by not making their password recovery process easier to use, they've increased their costs (i had to call customer service twice to get it to work), and actually *reduced* security (the CS rep actually had me send their own email back to them, and he then verbally relayed the password to me). it's obvious there's been no user testing of this process, and that some sys admin opted for prioritizing security over ease of use -- which in turn, because it's so complicated & such a hassle, makes people jump thru hoops and exchange password info in ways that are actually much less secure than intended.
3) customer service knows there's a problem, but the company isn't fixing it. while trying to get this resolved, i spoke to the customer service rep about how frustrating the process was, and wondered if other people hadn't mentioned similar issues... they of course confirmed i wasn't the first or only person who had called in and who felt this way. thus, i'm pretty sure they KNOW there are multiple customer complaints, their process sucks, but they haven't changed any part of the process and continue to run the business in a highly customer-unfriendly way. they're also willing to tolerate a process which costs them more money (generating cs calls).
okay, so now i've finished my little rant. to be fair to the company, the CS reps were pretty reasonable with me, and i was a little PO'd by the second time i'd called back and tried resetting my password multiple times. i don't really blame CS, i blame the company for not creating a better process... or using the feedback from customers like me to make it better.
i even filled out a customer survey (the first time anyway), and gave them lots of feedback on their crappy service issue, and suggestions on how to fix it. i doubt anyone will ever do anything with that info, but at least i gave them the option. now i'm simply feeling like blogging this to prevent other people from going thru this pain is a better option... at least other people might read this and save themselves the hassle.
FOLKS: take your domain & web hosting business elsewhere. GoDaddy doesn't appear to want it.
(note: full disclosure... the password recovery process at PayPal is probably just as painful)
i guess this was/is a stealth launch, but i must say i'm continually amazed at how Google fails to announce/launch products with hardly any product marketing education or other evangelism & fanfare, and just expects people to just find it / start using it. (see my earlier post on "Google-vangelism... hello?"). at least now they appear to have a unified developer homepage for Google APIs & code at http://code.google.com/. still, i'm underwhelmed by the launch effort & awareness. seems odd that i continue to "stumble" upon major Google api announcements, rather than having them be frontpage news on GigaOm or TechCrunch or Cnet.
in any case this would appear to be a pretty significant development, and likely a great opportunity for developers to use Google as an auth /identity platform. i expect to see more of this type of offering coming from the GYM majors, as well as a few others. even if they don't get it right the first time, the trend toward hosted APIs from platform services should make the world a better place for all developers & users.
only question is, will Google (and Microsoft and Yahoo) make those platforms and APIs easy to use, easy to get data in/out of, what kind of infrastructure support & reliability they provide, as well as how they enable monetization. for both the major platforms & for new web services startups, these kinds of issues are exactly what i expect developers to be looking at as they choose API vendors, and exactly why i invested in a startup called Mashery.
look for more info about Mashery coming this week at Mashup Camp.