In Episode 552, Rob Walling is joined by co-host emeritus, Mike Taber to chat about his decision-making around whether to launch a freemium plan, whether to do an AppSumo deal, how his potential partnerships merger is panning out.
The topics we cover
[04:93] Update on the CRM partnership opportunity, AppSumo, and Freemium
[23:39] Yet another Google security audit update
Links from the show
- Episode 535 | A Bluetick Update with Mike Taber
- MicroConf Remote
- Episode 543 | All Things Startup with #Mike Taber
- Mike Taber (@singlefounder) | Twitter
If you have questions about starting or scaling a software business that you’d like for us to cover, please submit your question for an upcoming episode. We’d love to hear from you!
Rob: Welcome back to Startups for the Rest of Us. This week, Mike Taber joins me to update us on the status, so we can hear about his decision making around whether to launch a freemium plan, whether to do an AppSumo deal, how his potential partnership/merger is panning out and what would a Mike Taber episode be without a discussion about Google audits.
For those who are newer to the show, Mike Taber co-hosted this podcast with me for the first 448 episodes, and now he is known as the co-host emeritus. He is doing a lot of work on his startup Bluetick at Bluetick.io, which is a SaaS app that does personal outreach at scale for all your follow-up emails.
We’ve established in prior episodes that Bluetick is not supporting Mike full-time. It hasn’t been growing for the past year or so, as he has switched his focus to focus on this potential partnership/business deal/merger with another SaaS app that is further along. With that, let’s dive into my conversation with Mike.
Mike Taber, thank you for joining me again.
Mike: Hey, how’s it going?
Rob: Pretty good, man. Listeners, it’s only been two months since you were on the show, episode 543. I still am getting tweets and emails about it. It was the April Fool’s episode. Two days ago, so it’s like, I just caught up and I’m listening to the April Fool’s episode. Spider-Man, Spider-Man would have won. Then he sent me a picture of a graded Secret Wars 8 with a black costume. That was fun. Did you have fun recording that?
Mike: I did. It was a good time.
Rob: After we stopped recording on that one you said, I could have gone for a lot longer. I was like, dang it, I didn’t know that. You were like, I had Wikipedia articles I was going to quote. You really prepared, man.
Mike: I did. That’s probably unfortunate for you because I knew what we’re going to talk about, so I did prepare. I probably hustled you a little on that one.
Rob: Yeah. It’s all fair. It made for some good radio. The last time we heard an update from you was in February, which was about 3 ½ months ago and that was episode 535. In that episode, we ran through for the first time you let folks know that you were evaluating a pretty deep integration/partnership/potential merging of Bluetick with this other Saas app. I think the quote that I took away from that was, “Everything’s on the table.”
You guys are exploring all types of strategic partnerships and such. You also were evaluating, potentially launching freemium with Bluetick, potential AppSumo deal, we talked a little bit about a Google security audit, and everyone’s taking their shots right now. That was about it. Those are things I think we can circle back on. I must call out since we’re on video today that you have a Dungeons and Dragons fifth edition player’s handbook over your left shoulder, and then you have the lanyard from every conference you have ever attended up on a bulletin board.
Mike: Yeah. It’s funny because every single one of those lanyards is from MicroConf.
Rob: Is it?
Mike: Those are the ones that I kept. You probably can’t see, there’s a whole stack of D&D books over there, and in the background, there’s a small handful of miniatures and stuff like that. I ran it out of the Abyss campaign. I naturally went out and bought the giant mini-figures that are probably 4–6 inches tall, painted them, and pulled them out on the table when they were not expecting to get into trouble, and they did.
Rob: Roll for initiative. We’re going to search for traps, roll for initiative. The best part is that if this episode gets boring, we’re just going to do an actual play. You’re just going to get mini’s out, I have my dice right here, we can roll it.
Rob: Before we dive into our actual play, which we’re not going to do, that’s a joke. I don’t want anyone to be disappointed, to get to the end of the episode and be like, you didn’t do it.
Mike: They’re going looking for that after-show episode with us playing D&D.
Rob: Yeah, we got to do that at some point, right?
Mike: Now you just committed us. I’m blaming you for that, I said it.
Rob: As long as your DM, I’m all about it. The lead is this partnership. I expressed some concern last episode about how you had been working together with this founder of an app that is doing ten times the revenue of Blueticks. It’s a much larger app that’s been around longer, it’s further established.
I think the concern I expressed was—you’re essentially working on it. You’re running the engineering team, I believe running product as well, making a lot of product decisions. My concern was how long do you want to do that without having something formal in place? Without knowing where this is headed. Where do you stand with that today?
Mike: Yeah. Still nothing overly formal in place. Everything’s kind of, I’ll say head nod, head shakes mode at the moment. I’ve known the founder for five or six years now. It’s not like we don’t know each other. There is a certain amount of trust there for that. I’m not really worried about getting screwed over or anything.
In terms of everything being on the table though, I would say there have been some conclusions for some of that. Like for freemium, for example, I’ve kind of pushed that to the back burner, probably not going to be a major thing that I’m exploring right now too much. There’s just a bunch of other stuff going on.
Rob: There are costs. The freemium thing was a big concern, and I get that because again when we were still bootstrapped doing freemium with Drip—Bluetick is a complex app, there are costs to it. There are server costs, there’s scaling, and there are things that make freemium maybe not a no-brainer if you don’t have buckets of money in the bank. If you really wanted to do it and try it out, I would say, cool. And not wanting to do it, that’s fine. I think there are other opportunities that are probably better there.
Mike: Right. Along with that, I decided against doing an AppSumo deal.
Rob: Did you?
Mike: Yeah. And I kind of came to that conclusion based on the same things that I looked at for freemium because with AppSumo, I’m going to get some level of money but then I’m going to have to support these customers forever. I had probably half a dozen different conversations with people who have done AppSumo deals. It was just a recurring theme over and over again that (a) it was difficult to get them to upgrade once they purchased the AppSumo deal, and (b) supporting them was just an ongoing cost, and not even just a little bit of support.
One of the founders I talked to, he’s like, yeah 80% of my support calls come from this group of AppSumo users and they’re contributing 0 moving forward. This was three, four years later. He still got 80% of support volume from those AppSumo users. I’m just like, that’s terrible.
Rob: That’s really surprising because normally users need a lot of support up front. Three or four years later they know the app and they don’t need it. That’s interesting. That’s the first I’ve heard someone run into that.
Mike: Yeah. I would say that’s more of an extreme example, but certainly not the only person who said I’m still answering support emails from that group of users. Their expectations are wildly out of whack with what they paid. Not one person I talked to really said, hey, this was exactly the target market that I wanted to get it. It added users, added visibility, but at the end of the day, that stuff only goes so far if it’s not paying the bills.
Rob: Yeah. I think AppSumo deals are good. I think there’s a time and a place to do them. In fact, I sat down a couple of months ago now with Ruben Gomez, who obviously did it for a doc sketch. It was a successful thing, he has no regrets, both the money and the users. But he has some pretty specific criteria of when to think about doing a lifetime deal like that. It was at MicroConf Remote. That was just a couple of months ago. If folks want to check that out, then go to microconfremote.com. I think the videos are still available for sale there.
That’s interesting then because I think the reason you were even thinking about freemium is because you were saying if I’m going to have effectively free users, which is kind of what AppSumo is. You get your $20,000, $30,000, $40,000, or whatever it is upfront, but then they’re effectively free users after that. You were saying I’m thinking about freemium from there. My memory was, I was probably a little discouraging of like, I don’t know that I would do freemium with Bluetick. I don’t know if that’s the way to go.
The AppSumo deal I see potentially more reason to do it just because it will get you users. You don’t have momentum right now. You don’t have growth if I’m understanding correctly where it’s at. I mean, Bluetick’s revenue is still where it was maybe a year ago because you’ve been focused on working on this other app, the partner app. Which again, you’re essentially running an engineering team. It’s a day job.
Whether you do the AppSumo thing or not is fine. I could see going either way on it. It’s a risk. I was actually just talking to a TinySeed founder a couple of weeks ago who’s also evaluating AppSumo. He was right on the fence with it, and he also decided not to do it. For a lot of the same reasons you’re saying—just the risk of it and the lifetime nature of it just didn’t make sense for him.
How are you feeling then? Because again, I struggle with you working a day job in a sense and not having equity in it. That’s not true. Actually, if you came and you said, hey Rob, I’m going to get a day job. That’s the decision because it’s simple, it’s easy, and I get a W-2 at the end of the year. I clock out at 5:00 PM, can you imagine that? But if you said that and that was the decision I’d be like, cool, that’s your choice, and you know what you’re getting into.
Mike: It’s funny that you put it that way because over the past couple of months, I’ve been trying to refinance my mortgage, not because of the interest rate per se, but because we want to basically overhaul our kitchen. We have contractors already assigned to it and everything. We’re like, oh well, we have a ton of equity in our house, not very much money left on it. We’ve got like seven years left on the mortgage. We can refinance, go to like a 15-year mortgage or even a 10, still.
Basically (because of the way the interest rates are) we could just add it on. We’re adding a couple of years, our payments don’t change—no-brainer. It turns out that if I were a W-2 employee this would be so much easier, but instead, I’ve had to go through the wringer for three months now. I’ve learned so much about the mortgage industry in the past three months that I hate that.
Rob: None of it that you wanted to know. You didn’t want to learn any of it but you know it.
Mike: None of it that I wanted to know. Surprisingly they say that I have a negative income, which is bizarre.
Mike: Oh yeah. My tax return very clearly says that I have positive income and they’re like, oh yeah, I won’t name the numbers, but it was over six figures. They’re like, oh yeah, this counts for zero. I’m like, what? And of course, they won’t take a profit. They just use a profit and loss statement to baseline, but they won’t use it. It’s like counting for anything. I’m just like, you’ve got to be kidding me.
Rob: Yeah, it’s tough. The mortgage world doesn’t understand 1099. They often don’t understand startups. Even investors, there was chat in the TinySeed Slack and a couple of founders, someone had their mortgage lender back out on them 20 minutes before their close. He had to go to Silicon Valley Bank because they understand founders. They know what 1099 income is, and they know all this stuff. They will say, have you raised funding? That’s actually something they’ll pay attention to at least you have a viable situation.
Mike: Anyway, over the past week or two, I’m just like, man, I would kill for a W-2 employee status right now, even if it’s just for a month. I mean, I would go so far as to pay somebody to put me on W-2 for like a month. I don’t care.
Rob: I totally get it. You only need a couple of months of pay stubs. That’s actually early on, when Derrick was working on Drip, he was a part-time contractor, and then he was a full-time contractor. At a certain point, he’s like, I’m going to buy a house. Could you make me W-2? I was like, sure, let’s do that. That was it, he needed like one or two pay stubs. Then it was instant. It was so easy to get approved, but without that, they wanted two years of history and all this stuff. At that point, he was young and didn’t have it.
Similar to me, when we went to buy this house that we bought three years ago, I had left Drip and Sherry had her consulting and all that, but I didn’t have a job. We went to all these lenders and they were like, yeah, you don’t have a job, bro. You don’t have the income to lend against. I was like, oh, eye-roll.
Rob: Cool. That was a good tangent. Where I’m coming from is, look, I know the person who runs the other SaaS app, the partner too. I mean, you guys are not going to screw each other. I don’t think that’s going to be the case. But is there a concern? Or I have concerns about you working on this without something in place. I’m concerned there might be mismatched expectations if you haven’t gotten down to brass tacks to say, hey, let’s merge these two apps, or let’s both focus on this one, and here’s the equity split.
Because I’ve done this before where I have an app and I bring someone on and we discuss equity, we put a partnership agreement together. These days, I would use a lawyer and I’ll say, 12 years ago, I wrote my own agreements, which is like the worst idea ever, but I was too cheap and didn’t really have the money to do it. What is the delay with that? Because you’ve been working on this for over a year now.
Mike: I mean the delay until after December and probably even after that until February was over. He had this other business that he had to sell. The pandemic pushed that off and he finally closed on it at the end of December, but it still took like a couple of months of offloading because it’s a non-trivial sale. He had several hundred employees, multiple locations for this brick and mortar business, and just wanted to get out of it.
It took a couple of months even after the close for him to kind of offload a lot of the work and the hand-off. It wasn’t like, here are the keys and I’m out the door the next day. Selling a business, it’s really not like that. You are essentially committed to sticking around through a transition period.
Then once that transition period has kind of gone, we’ve been having weekly meetings on Monday mornings for a month or two at this point. I think those are helping because they put us on firmer ground in terms of what our expectations are, how we’re going to blend to move things forward, and what we want to see out of the “partnership” or how we’re working together.
We have gone back and forth on do we work on Bluetick, or do we work on this other app? Do we collaborate on something completely different? All those things have kind of come up and been discussed to some extent.
Right now we’re working on a program for a done-for-you service for Bluetick and pitching it to their existing customers. Which I think has a lot of potential. That’s something that had originally been something we were going to do about a year ago, but because everything else was going on.
Rob: Just COVID and the sale.
Mike: Yeah, it just never really got to the forefront. Plus, we’re having a billion technology problems, which I think for the most part are more or less resolved. I mean, there’s always technical debt to take care of. But we’re in a position now where we can actually start doing that stuff. Now he has the time to start working on that stuff too. I think that that’s got a lot of potential, and it is something we’re going to be actively working on. We’re just in the very early stages of that right now.
Rob: Yeah. If the done-for-you service works because this other app has a customer base of a sizable, substantial—I don’t know what the term is for it, but there are enough customers that it could make sense and generate real revenue pretty quickly for a done-for-you service. If that works, that’ll be interesting. Because a done-for-you service is not cheap, right? I mean it’s basically a productized service. I would guess single-digit thousands per month to do it. You don’t need that many clients to get to $20,000, $30,000, $40,000 a month. Obviously, you then have the issue of hiring people to run outbound and all that. But these are solved problems.
We’ve seen Craig Hewitt do it with Podcast Motor, now Castos productions. We watch Brian Casel do it with Audience Ops and anyone else who’s in a productized service. If that works, I’m intrigued by it. If that doesn’t work, I got to be honest, I want to give you my opinion and I want to hear your take on it. What do you think? I feel like both of you should go all-in on the other app and shut Bluetick down.
Autopilot it, whatever, put it on the side and not focus on it. The reason I think that is because the other app is doing 10 times the revenue. The other app has traction. With the two of you working on it—you are development, product, and engineering. He is sales and marketing, and operations, I presume. I know he knows quite a bit about sales and marketing stuff. I mean, that’s a hot take for me. What do you think about that idea?
Mike: I think it’s interesting because you came to the exact opposite conclusion that he and I came to.
Rob: That’s funny.
Mike: The reason for that is that the growth for that business is stagnant, and it’s been stagnant for a while. There could be any number of reasons for that, but it just hasn’t grown. Right now there’s a struggle to try and find what channel or channels to tap into in order to get it to grow any further. We actually both came to the conclusion, probably separately, and together in our discussion that Bluetick probably has better growth potential than that product. Even though there is a wide discrepancy in the revenue, that doesn’t mean that couldn’t be addressed through a good solid sales and marketing effort.
That’s what I would say to it. I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer to it, but that’s the conclusion that we had come to. I don’t know where to go from there. But I think we need to give it a little bit of time just trying to figure out how things work out.
We do have one customer who was basically (I’ll say) beta testing the done-for-you service, so we’re going through that process right now. They’re already onboarded. We’ve got the emails set up. They’re written to basically be plugged into Bluetick. The founder of that company is out this week and he’ll come back next. There’s one small feature that I have to implement in order to get things working for them. But other than that, next week we should be able to get started with it.
Rob: Got it. Just as a reminder, I realized in the last episode that you are on, we mentioned the other app we keep saying is a CRM for field sales reps. We can call it the CRM instead of the other app, the partnership app, or whatever since you’re being all coy about it. But that’s interesting. Both of them are stagnant. In my mind, neither of them is growing. I keep saying it’s 10 times. I think it’s more like 15 times. It’s substantially bigger. It has a team working on it including you and more customers.
I mean, they both seem like CRM for field sales reps. That’s a big space. It’s a space you should be able to get some type of traction. Just because you have marketing channels working now, (we talked a little bit offline) but it’s like there’s outbound linked in and email. There is a G2 crowd and Capterra. There’s content, there’s […], all these things to do. You’ve spent the last year-plus fixing a bunch of technical debt.
That app is in pretty good shape to do it, it’s full-featured, and has (again) a substantial customer base. A sizable customer base enough to be generating a good amount of revenue. That just feels like the basis from which you can really build on versus Bluetick that still feels pretty nascent, I think.
The question I used to ask you was, do you have product-market fit? How are you different from the other 5 or 10 apps that kind of do the same thing the Bluetick does? If you get a done-for-you service working and you are pulling from the CRM’s customer base—not pulling, but you are selling to them—what happens when you get through all those customers and you convert 10% of […], 20%, or whatever? So then Bluetick has more revenue, but now it’s stagnant again because you still haven’t figured out how to market, sell, and grow Bluetick.
Mike: Sure. There are two things I’d probably bring up. The first one is your point about the revenue difference between them I think is probably closer to 15X. That is accurate, but at the same time revenue—you know as well as I do revenue and profit are not the same things. And if you’re talking about profit, I think profit-wise, Bluetick actually has more profit, which is a hard pill to swallow. I think that’s kind of a big contributing factor. There are just a lot of moving parts, there are hundreds of thousands of lines of code. There are hundreds of customers.
The types of support issues that we get are things like (I told you this offline) somebody said, hey, your app isn’t working you need to reload it. It’s like, okay, well, clearly you’re not a developer so we’ll just let that slide. Can you send us a screenshot of what you’re seeing?
They sent us a screenshot, and in the background, you can see the app, in the foreground you see the Chrome waiting for web browser window where it basically shows that message when it’s locked up. The message we got with the screenshot was, it’s been like this for three days. What gives? It’s just reloading your browser man.
Rob: Yeah. Command + r.
Mike: Yeah, exactly. Something along those lines. The person just didn’t reload their browser because they’re like, oh, I’m just waiting for this web page. It’ll eventually get there. They have no concept of time-outs or trying again.
Rob: Right. It’s customer pain, I’ve talked about this. Competitor pain versus customer pain. That makes sense. I mean, you and the founder of the CRM are much closer to this than I am and have spent more time thinking about it. That’s my hot take or my assumption that if I had these two apps and knowing what I know about them, I would double down on the one that’s larger that has had that. But we don’t need to definitively agree on anything on this call.
I think that the thing I’ll ask you before we get into the Google security audit discussion is do you have a timeline in mind? The next time we talk will be a month, two, three months down the line. Do you feel like things will be settled by then?
Mike: I think we’ll have some sort of a definitive idea of where we’re going because I mean really, it’s only been about like the past two months or so where we’ve really started to dive in. And honestly, I’ve been somewhat distracted because of my mortgage debacle and several other things. There’s that, there are taxes, there’s all this other stuff.
I feel like I’ve jumped from one major fire or fiasco to another over the past six months. It seems like it’s nonstop, I don’t know why. I’ve mentioned it in FounderCafe. I put in this long thread the other day about the part of why I’ve been absent for the past couple of months. I just listed them all out.
I think things are starting to close out on some of that stuff. We’ll see how it goes. I really think that he and I will come to some sort of conclusion about what the direction is from here moving forward over the next month or two. I think that partly because we are meeting every single week, we are having pretty in-depth discussions, we have a couple of different calls each week with the team. There’s a marketing call and a couple of other things we do. We’re in constant communication.
I think something will sort itself out. I don’t know what that is. I have a good feeling that that’s going to at least move forward in some way, shape, or form. I just don’t know what the outcome looks like.
Rob: I wish you and he the best of luck in figuring that out for sure, and I’m curious to hear an update once that’s all settled. Google security audit.
Mike: One painful topic to another, man.
Rob: I mean, these are the things that we talked about last time. I’m just touching base. Is that all done? I mean, I think everyone in the audience is like me. They both like hearing about it and really don’t like hearing about the security audit. But it was the second time and you had to have done it already. Was it a lot easier? I know they weren’t going to charge you more for the second year, which makes no sense because it’s way less work to do. And you were negotiating back and forth, I believe at the time. I don’t even think you started any of the technical stuff, but catch us up there.
Mike: How much dirty laundry do I want to air on this one?
Rob: I don’t know.
Mike: You want me to just throw it all out there?
Rob: It’s up to you. It’s your call man.
Mike: Sure. I did not do it. After getting the price quotes, looking at everything, and evaluating whether it made sense to do it or not—based on what Google was telling me was going to be the outcome of that—I decided against doing it. Right now, if you log into Bluetick and you go to add your email account and it’s a Gmail-based or G Suite-based, you have to go and see your G Suite account and you have to whitelist Bluetick.
You just go in, I’ve got documentation on how to do it. You just search for it, plug in Bluetick, save, authorize, whitelist, and you’re done. Then you can add your email accounts in and everything’s fine—nothing changes. The only thing that not having the audit does for me or counts against me is if you have an actual gmail.com account, you have to use IMAP authentication, you have to enable that in your account, and you have to create an app password. It’s a little bit more complicated.
Rob: I’ve had to do that before.
Mike: Yeah. But Bluetick really isn’t aimed like gmail.com users. It’s aimed at business users who use their business accounts for sending out those emails. The conclusion I came to was that it didn’t seem to be worth the money for (I’ll say) the paper-thin-veil of security that is supposedly offered.
Because last year I went through it and they came back with some pretty ridiculous things. They’re like, oh, (I’m going to misremember the details on this, but it was something like) you should protect this port, make it HTTPS instead of HTTP. I’m like, that’s not even my server. It was a Dreamhost server for something, I forget what. They’re like, well, you have this listed in one of your DNS entries. I’m like, that makes no difference, whatsoever, it’s not connected to anything. They put up a fuss about it.
I pulled it out just to appease them and get the documentation, but they’re looking at some really stupid things. Given the background that I actually have in security, I can point at those things and say, yeah, this is a dumb thing that you’re looking at and it doesn’t make sense. But they’re like a bank, and if they have their own policies around certain stuff, then they’re going to say, hey, this is enforceable and you have to do it.
The other thing I found, and this is where the dirty laundry gets in, I’m going to start throwing people under the bus. The first piece is that when Google said that they were going to do this, essentially all of the existing accounts would still work as they were supposed to, nothing was going to change there. I did proactively go out to my customers and say, hey, you go whitelist Bluetick, and a bunch of them did.
I did not notice any accounts that have gotten disconnected since the deadline passed and Google emailed me and said, hey, you are in violation of such-and-such terms. You are no longer going to be authorized to do this. But everything else seems to still be working properly the way that it’s supposed to do. Nothing made a difference at all. Hasn’t impacted sales, hasn’t impacted anything else.
At the end of the day, was it really necessary? I don’t think the answer in my case is yes. If I were running something where people were authorizing the Gmail accounts and we’re using that, then it would be a problem because then I literally couldn’t do what I’m supposed to do for them.
The other piece when I was talking to the three different companies, one of them, basically let slip that Google came to them and said, you are required to charge at least this much money. Apparently, they get copies of the invoices, which to me seems like a violation of the NDA that I had previously signed, but apparently, Google gets copies of those invoices.
Rob: Seems monopolistic too. Was it—what’s that thing?
Mike: Anti-monopolistic. Anti-competitive behavior, racketeering is the charge. If you search for racketeering on Google of all places it basically says you’re organizing to extract money from somebody for your own personal gain. The only reason that this whole thing doesn’t fall under that umbrella is that I have to pay a third-party company in order to get this audit done.
But because Google is dictating what that is and they’re saying you have to charge at least this much money or you couldn’t possibly have done the audit, which I disagree with, but that’s an aside. They’re forcing it.
Rob: Yeah, I didn’t understand. It didn’t make sense to me why they would enforce a minimum. You just corrected that in my head. If they say, you have to charge at least this much, then somehow Google has the confidence that they spent enough time, that it was worth that much or something? They’re doing it so that they think that a real audit was done so that I can’t come out with Rob’s security audits and come and try to charge you a $100 and say, oh, I audited them.
Mike: Well, you can’t do that anyway because these are the only three companies that are authorized to do that.
Rob: Three companies.
Mike: I see what they’re trying to do. What they’re trying to do is say, well, we don’t want those three companies to be bidding against each other and then lower the amount of services that they’re offering to the point that they’re basically skipping all these things that they really should be doing.
The problem with that stance in that argument is that Google is outsourcing this specifically because (a) you would want to avoid a federal racketeering charge, and (b) Google’s not a security company, these other companies are. Why are you dictating to them what constitutes a security audit instead of letting them decide? Because they’re the ones who have to sign off on it. They’re the ones who do all the tests and everything else.
Something feels really shady, it really, really does. I’m sure I’m going to get emails from somebody who works at Google at this point. I’ve thought about taking all the information and data that I have, all the notes, and just putting them in a zip file and sending it to the state attorney general and say, you deal with this because I’m done.
Rob: The opinions expressed by Mike Taber are not the opinions of Rob Walling or this podcast.
Mike: Exactly. I mean, you could look at it in a bunch of different ways like, oh, this is just one more thing that Mike Taber’s ran into. I’ve had to stress about this for a long time, and it sucks. It sucks that I have to deal with this.
Rob: Yeah, we know. We’ve lived through with you, Mike. Was it all for nothing? Do you regret doing it last year? Was it just a waste of time and money?
Mike: I think so. Yeah.
Rob: That sucks.
Mike: Yeah, it really is. I mean, I blew five-plus figures easy getting this stupid audit done, and it murdered my profitability. Then they doubled the price the following year and I’m like, forget it, I’m just not going to bother. I’ve had zero problems since then. Not to say that somebody from Google isn’t going to hear this and then go invalidate all the tokens. But that just comes down to retaliations like, oh we did something terrible, and we’re going to cover for it. We’re going to drive your business into the ground. Could that happen? Sure. It hopefully won’t happen.
Rob: But the idea that you can work around it by whitelisting because you’re right, if I have a Gmail account, I’m not the optimal fit for Bluetick. I’m going to have a G Suite. You support G Suite, Microsoft Office, Outlook, or whatever.
Mike: Honestly, anything that supports an IMAP connection.
Rob: IMAP, okay. You’re on all the platforms, and Google has been the most painful one.
Mike: They’re the jerk hippo in the rooms, that’s what that is.
Rob: I don’t know that reference.
Mike: I guess the elephant, whatever. Elephant, hippo.
Rob: The jerk elephant in the room, I see. I both feel bad for you hearing that, but I also feel good that you didn’t do it. I’m happy that you made the decision not to and that it hasn’t had adverse effects. Now, going forward, you’re just kind of shoulder shrug. I mean, are most of your customers using Google inboxes, is it the majority?
Mike: It is, yeah.
Rob: Okay, interesting. I guess it is one of those super popular—I mean, G Suite is so popular especially with startups.
Mike: It’s very easy to get on and very easy to start. Once you’re there, you’re probably not going to switch my email providers anytime soon. I mean, it makes sense to have that stuff. I really feel like the way Google has gone about this whole thing has been extremely poorly implemented.
Their communication is terrible. You can’t get answers. You can’t talk to anybody. Their policies were extremely heavy-handed, and they don’t make exceptions for anything, really. Then when the one place where you could feasibly get around this whole audit, they kind of really downplay that whole option for doing it.
Because had I known that, I wouldn’t have paid the money in the first year. I would have just avoided it. Hey, if I could just have people whitelisted and get around it, then why would I bother? Why would I pay all that money? After going through the audit, they found almost nothing. The few things that they did find were extremely ridiculous. Some more requirements, okay, I get this, I understand that.
I would say the things that they came back with, there were maybe two, possibly three that it was actually an issue that I looked at and said, yeah, I really should fix this and I fixed it. But otherwise, there was a handful of stuff that they’re just like, you should do this and that. It’s like, no, that doesn’t make any sense.
Rob: And right here, I want to play an audio clip from the last episode where Mike was angry about the Google security audit. We can hear his rant. I want to compare the two rants to figure out if you used similar verbiage or whatever.
Mike: Similar swear words, profanity.
Rob: Similar swear words. We haven’t had to bleep you this episode yet. Well, sir, that’s the end of my list for today. Is there anything else you feel like we should chat about that’s been going on the past few months?
Mike: I don’t think so.
Rob: Very good. If people want to keep up with you, you are a prolific tweeter, @SingleFounder. I think your last tweet was about the time the last podcast episode went live three months ago. But no, if they want to keep up with what you’re doing Bluetick.io, that’s it.
Mike: That’s probably it. I don’t really pay attention too much on Twitter anymore. I don’t even remember the last time I actually logged in. Occasionally, I will find things where it’s like click on this and you go see the tweet or whatever.
Rob: It’s not a bad thing.
Mike: Yeah. Mostly, I’ll just post random stuff my kids say on Facebook and that’s about it. I don’t even read it for the most part.
Rob: That’s not a bad way to do it. Cool, man. Well, thanks again for taking some time to join me today. I know folks like hearing from you, and I like catching up as well. Until next time.
Mike: All right, take it easy.
Rob: Hope you enjoyed that conversation as much as I did. I always enjoy having Mike back on the show. It’s just easy chatting because we’ve known each other for so many years and spent so many guests, literally hundreds of hours talking about this kind of stuff. It’s good to have him back on the show. I’ll be sure to have him back again in the next couple of months.
What I do with Mike is I’ll text him and say, hey, do you have anything to report? Is there anything interesting to update folks on since last time? Last year in 2020, there was a seven-month gap where just nothing really was happening that he was able to talk about on the microphone. This time it was about three months. We’ll see how quickly things sort themselves out, and I’ll get him back on the show just as soon as I can.
Thank you so much for being a loyal listener and a subscriber. As always, I’ll be back again in your earbuds next Tuesday morning.