First was Deepak Chopra, who made a whole series of videos for this site. And yesterday things got even more exciting, when Steven Spielberg, Harisson Ford, George Lucas, Shia Laboeuf, Karen Allen and Cate Blanchett came on the site and had discussions with other users. Here’s one of the exchanges, between Jemima Kiss and Steven Spielberg. Here’s a Harisson Ford video. etc.
So that’s all really great, and I’m happy as an investor. But Seesmic made some terrible judgment calls yesterday around this promotion that has resulted in us removing it from our sites (we installed Seesmic video comments on all TechCrunch Network blogs last month).
Then we went down a third time late last night, and we disabled the plugin for good (until the new version is available).
This morning we heard from Seesmic that the reason for the downtime yesterday was due to multiple server reboots around the Spielberg promotion.
What They Should Have Done
A simple email to us telling us that they would need to be rebooting their servers periodically over the day would have let us prepare for this and disable the plugin as it was happening. That way, Seesmic video comments would have disappeared from the site for periods of time, but TechCrunch would not have gone down. Of course, as Seesmic grows, having properly architected plugins and server redundancy will also help ensure that this problem doesn’t occur again.
I understand that young startups need a little wiggle room to get things right, and I don’t mind testing that raw software on TechCrunch. Even if that means we go down occasionally during their growing pains.
But never withhold information from your partners and tell them that you have no idea what is causing downtime when you know exactly what the problem is. As exciting as getting Steven Spielberg on your site to talk to your users is, it is not worth being dishonest to partners.
I understand that Seesmic may have been hesitant to tell us about the promotion because they wanted to keep it quiet. But all they had to do was tell us before the downtime that it was going to occur, and we would have been happy. And Seesmic would still be an active plugin on TechCrunch.
Some of you may wonder why I’m calling out a company that I’ve invested in so harshly. The reason: I’m calling them out because they deserve it, and the fact that I invested in them means I need to be careful before giving them any kind of break.