Strategy Letter II: Chicken and Egg Problems

Strategy Letter II: Chicken and Egg Problems

“Now, here’s a little known fact: even DOS 1.0 was designed with a CP/M backwards compatibility mode built in. … It could almost run CP/M software. In fact,  WordStar was ported to DOS by changing one single byte in the code. … Let that sink in.” – Joel Spolsky

OK. Wow. Why did I not know that?

“Companies that fail to recognize the Chicken and Egg problem can be thought of as boil the ocean companies: their business plan requires 93,000,000 humans to cooperate with their crazy business scheme before it actually works.” – Joel Spolsky

Boil the ocean… Yeah, used that phrase plenty with regard to payment systems.

“if you’re in a market with a chicken and egg problem, youbetter have a backwards-compatibility answer that dissolves the problem…” – Joel Spolsky

I would add to this, and doesn’t require any user effort to figure out or adopt. Time and time again, there have been BC support, but if it required even the slightest bit of effort, forget about it. One of PayByCash’s most useful weapons was the fact our API just worked. Forever. We didn’t require anyone to upgrade their API integration, ever. Took some tricky facade handling code at times, and a whole lot of diligence on the business model front, but we got it done.

That allowed us to grow through the slow times… the lean times…