Items tagged with: Start-up
An open letter from an Android developer to the Android Community and specially to Purnima Kochikar, director of Google Play, Apps & Games…
Article word count: 1553
HN Discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18788450
Posted by dsr12 (karma: 26285)
Post stats: Points: 145 - Comments: 42 - 2018-12-30T10:28:20Z
\#HackerNews #account #google #our #play #publisher #start-up #terminated
Photo by Freebie Photography — Creative Commons Attribution 3.0
Go to the profile of Pablo A. Martínez
\* December 24th. Received Google Play account termination email. It mentions it is due to prior violations of “associated accounts” outlined in previous emails. \* Never received any communication prior the termination regarding any infringement not solved or previous emails regarding to an “associated account”. \* December 24th. I appealed for human assistance by suggested text form because Google Play lacks of a proper Developer Customer service by phone or assigned account manager. \* December 25th. I received 24 hours exactly after the termination communication an email telling me that my appeal has been rejected. (Most probably rejected by a bot) \* Result: A ten years long Android career and a successful start-up killed for Christmas.
I have been developing Android apps for nearly 10 years and I have personally lived the evolution of the whole Android ecosystem, since Android 1.5 to Android 9.0, from “Android Market” to “Google Play”.
I started developing apps as a hobby, later on I joined a major company as developer and finally 4 years ago I decided to follow my own path and co-founded a start-up with a colleague. Android has given me all, a career path, economic independence and best of all, the privilege of making a living doing what I would do just for fun.
While it is undeniable that Google Play has flourished to become the greatest App, Games and Media distribution platform of all times and has devoted all the effort to provide the best experience to more than 2 billion users, it has failed in one simple and plain key point:
Developer customer support
Two other key services provided by Google for Android developers are Admob and Google Ads. If I have a problem with Google Ads, I can just make a phone call and have direct customer support. If I encounter any problem with Admob I can even meet in person with my local Admob Account manager, which is great.
But If I have a problem as a developer at Google Play I can just get a text form and template answers.
We count with all kind of tools in our developer console to publish, monetize, track, monitor, get user feedback, etc… but we cannot just simply get a proper “human” support when an issue arises.
And I can tell you that issues arise more often that we could expect, if you are lucky it’s just an app suspension that can be fixed with an app update but others is an app removal and you must to republish your app. It can be even worse, one day you can receive an email that notifies you about your “Google Play Publisher account termination”.
My “personal publisher account”, was terminated last August 1th. I probably will never know why. It was mostly abandoned, I had just a few old apps just for testing features or make experiments. It was not really important for me nor my start-up but I felt very worried and thought that this had to be a mistake done by an automated process or bot, a false positive… so I looked at this line with confidence, this mistake was going to be fixed for sure:
If you feel this termination may have been in error, please reach out to our policy support team
“Reaching the support team” consists in filling a text field with a 1000 chars limit which is referred as an “Appeal for reinstatement”.
A couple of days later I got an email that confirmed the account termination with this answer:
I couldn’t understand anything, “Multiple violations… by an associated Google Play developer account” ? So I answered back requesting more info.
But the effort was futile, I later discovered searching at Google that this has happened to many other developers and I was just getting the same canned responses.
I tried to get help from other channels like @GooglePlayDev but they just directed me to the same “appeal text form”.
The first email was clear at one point, I can’t publish anymore Android apps in Google Play by myself.
Do not attempt to register a new developer account. Any new accounts will be closed and your developer registration fee will not be refunded. We recommend that you use an alternative method for distributing your apps in the future.
I felt terribly sad, disappointed and angry at the same time. How can Google let this happen? How can such a critical action be taken without any prior communication? Who are “Taylor” and “Sam”, the signers of the replies I got?. Are they actual humans? are they bots? Are they accountable for their decisions? Do they minimally understand what involves developing and publishing an app? Who watches them?
Despite this I thought that I had been in the past smart enough (3 years before all this happened) to open an independent Gmail account to isolate all my start-up services, accounting, work and apps from my personal stuff. And that the team would be able to continue developing apps and publishing them on the start-up Google Play account with ease.
I thought I was right until last December 24th I wake up with the long dreaded email awaiting in our start-up Gmail’s inbox. 5 months later we were receiving at GreenLionSoft the same “Account Termination” email template.
Notified the 24th at 5:15 (CET)
Of course, I appealed and in exactly 24h I got the expected account termination reply, what a Christmas present…
Google Play’s Christmas present for December 25th, just exactly 24h later.
This completely ruined my Christmas holidays with my family.
This time the account termination has overwhelming implications. We at GreenLionSoft had 18 published apps, with more than 1 Million downloads and 300k monthly active users. We were a successful company employing 5 people (2 direct employees and up to 3 freelancers) and expected to continue growing in 2019 and increasing further our portfolio of apps.
\* We have lost everything we have been able to build in the past 4 years, downloads, reputation, store position, etc… \* Our users won’t be able to get future updates and they won’t know what has happened. \* Our only source of income that are ads and in-app purchases will eventually run down. \* We will have probably to close our start-up in the next few weeks/months so my colleague and me will lose our current jobs and the freelancers will miss the workload they were expecting to have.
This is is happening because we, the publishers (developers), are just a drop of water in the ocean compared with the amount of Google Play customers. The actual business for Google Play are them, not us.
To ensure quality, safety of apps, and the user experience for their billions of customers, Google Play is probably scanning apps looking for malicious behaviour, sdk’s or broken policies in an automated fashion. And this is not bad.
They probably have a team of “watchmen” reviewing apps and the automatic reports generated by their internal tools. And again this is not bad.
What is bad is how it is being handled, what is terribly bad is using automatic responses and templates for customer support. Who is deciding that an account has to be terminated? Under which circumstances? Is it actually somebody terminating accounts on Christmas eve? and answering appeals on Christmas? Do they never commit mistakes? Who watches the “watchmen” are doing their work properly?
Dear Android devs, always remember that Google Play may terminate your dev account at any time, without prior notice, without any explanation and you may have to close your company and seek for a new job tomorrow. This is how it works right now.
I believe that we as developers deserve transparency and a proper communication channel to solve this kind of issues, just terminating years of work without any ‘human’ interaction nor explanation makes us feel totally defenseless.
It’s also our responsibility as community to give visibility to this problem, otherwise the problem virtually doesn’t exist for the people that have the power to fix it.
If you happen to be a Google employee, please escalate this issue, share it among your internal channels, do whatever is in your hands to improve the Google Play platforms for us, the developers.
Dear Purnima Kochicar, please let me have the nerve to say that something is broken at Google Play from the developer perspective and nobody seems to be able to help us.
It is your call to take an action on this, to fix processes and customer support, to avoid Google Play ruining developer careers or companies, to stop people losing jobs in the worst of situations. Is in your hands to recover the developer community trust on Google Play, we are willing to help and collaborate.
December 29th, 2018, Madrid, Spain.
Pablo A. Martínez: CEO and Android Lead at GreenLionSoft
Also subscribing this open letter:
\* Miguel Villacorta: Program Manager at Telefónica \* Antonio Leiva: Android Developer, Kotlin Expert & Writer \* Chelu Martín: Head of Tech Lab at IE Business School \* Débora Gómez: Technical Lead at myToys \* Álvaro Abella: Architect at /Bluetab \* Arturo Naredo: CTO at Glownet \* Jesús Díaz: Android Lead at Glownet \* Raúl Martínez: CTO at EthicHub \* José Orozco: Android Dev at eDreams \* Sergio Casero: Android Lead at Worldline SL \* Cristina S. Barreiro: Mobile Developer \* Jaime GC: Android Developer at Icinetic
Do you also want to be listed as a subscriber of this open letter? DM at Twitter, or LinkedIn or just make a comment and I will add your name.
Otherwise please share and make this open letter reach every Android Developer you know. Let’s support an extremely needed change for the good and the future of the community.
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#advisors #bridge #business #column #death #economy #entrepreneurship #four #softbank #start-up chile #startup company #startups #tnt #valley #ways #widening
Shahin Farshchi ContributorShahin Farshchi is a partner at Lux Capital. More posts by this contributor
* Building a great startup requires more than genius and a great invention
* Investing in frontier technology is (and isn’t) cleantech all over again
Many founders believe in the myth that the first steps of starting a business are the hardest: Attracting the first investment, the first hires, proving the technology, launching the first product and landing the first customer. Although those critical first steps are difficult, they are certainly not the most difficult on the arduous path of building an iconic company. As early and late-stage funding becomes more abundant, founders and their early VC backers need to get smarter about how to position their companies for a looming valley of death in-between. As we’ll learn below, it’s only going to get much, much harder before it gets easier.
Money will have the look, and heft, of dumbbells as the economic cycle turns. Expect an abundance of small, seed checks at one end, an abundance of massive checks for clear, breakout companies at the other, and a dearth of capital for expanding companies with early proof points and market traction. Read more on how to best prepare for this inevitable future. (Image courtesy Flickr/CircaSassy)
There will be an abundance of capital at the two ends of the startup spectrum. At one end, hundreds of seed and micro VCs, each armed with dozens of $250,000-$1 million checks to write every year, are on the prowl for visionary founders with pedigrees and resumes. At the other end, behemoths like SoftBank, sovereigns, as well “early-stage” firms raising larger funds are seeking breakout companies ready for checks that are in the mid-tens to hundreds of millions. There will be a dearth of capital to grow companies from a kernel of a business, to becoming the clear market-defining leader. In fact, we’re already seeing deal volume decreasing significantly as dollars increase, likely evidence of larger checks going into fewer companies.
Even as the overall number of deals decrease below 2012 levels, the overall dollars invested into startups continue to soar. The 200+ “seed-stage” funds formed since 2012 will continue to chase nascent companies. Meanwhile, the increasing number of mega-funds will seek breakout companies into which to make $100 million+ investments. Companies with early traction seeking ~$20 million to grow will be abundant and have difficulty accessing capital.
Founders should no longer assume that their all-star seed and Series A syndicates will guarantee a successful follow-on financing. Progress on recruiting and product development, though necessary, are no longer sufficient for B-rounds and beyond. Founders should be mindful that investors that specialize in leading $20-50 million rounds will have a plethora of well-funded, well-mentored, well-staffed startups with slick presentations, big visions and some early market traction from which to choose.
Today, there is far more capital chasing fewer quality companies. Fewer breakout companies and fear of missing out is making it easy to raise growth rounds with revenue growth, which may not be scalable or even reflective of an attractive business. This is creating false realities and prompting founders to raise big rounds at high prices — which is fine when there is an over-abundance of capital, but can cripple them when capital later becomes scarce. For example, not long ago, cleantech companies, armed with very preliminary sales, raised massive financings from VCs eager to back winners toward scaling into what they characterized as infinite demand. The reality is that the capital required to meet target economics was far greater and demand far smaller. As the private markets turned, access to cash became difficult and most faltered or were acquired for pennies on the dollar.
There is a likely future where capital grows scarce, and investors take a harder look at the underpinnings of revenue, growth and (dis)economies of scale.
What should startup leadership teams emphasize in an inevitable future where the $30 million rounds will be orders of magnitude harder than their $5 million rounds?
A business model representative of the big vision
Leadership teams put lots of emphasis on revenue. Unfortunately, revenue that’s not representative of the big vision is probably worse than no revenue at all. Companies are initially seeded with the expectation that the founding team can build and sell something. What needs to be proven is the hypothesis that the company can a) build a special product that b) is inexpensive to convince customers to pay for, and c) that those customers represent a massive market. It should be proven that it is unattractive for customers to switch to the inevitable copycats. It should be clear that over time, customers will pay more for additional features, and the cost of acquiring new customers will go down. Simply selling a product to customers that don’t represent that model is worse than not selling anything at all.
Recruiting talent that’s done it
Early founding teams are cognitively diverse individuals that can convince early investors that they can overcome the incredible odds of building a company that until now, shouldn’t have existed. They build a unique product, leveraging unique tools satisfying an unmet need. The early teams need to demonstrate the big vision, and that they can recruit the people that can make that vision a reality. Unfortunately, more founders struggle when it comes to recruiting people that have real experience reducing a technology to practice, executing on a product that customers want and charting the path to expand their market with improving unit economics. There are always exceptions of people that do the above for the first time at startups; however, most of today’s iconic startups knew what kind of talent they needed to execute and succeeded in bringing them on board. Who’s on your team?
Present metrics that matter
The attractive SaaS valuation multiples behoove all founders to apply its metrics to their businesses even if they aren’t really SaaS businesses. Sophisticated later-stage investors see right past that and dismiss numbers associated with metrics that are not representative. Semiconductors are about winning dedicated sockets in growing markets. Design tools are about winning and upselling seats in an industry that’s going to be hooked on those tools. Develop a clear understanding of how your business will be measured. Don’t inundate your investor with numbers; present a concise hypothesis for your unfair advantage in a growing market with your current traction being evidence to back it.
Find efficiencies by working in massive markets
“Pouring fuel on the fire” is a misleading metaphor that leads some into believing that capital can grow any business. That’s just as true as watering a plant with a fire hose or putting TNT in your Corolla’s gas tank: most business models and markets simply are not native to the much-sought-after venture growth profile. In fact, most later-stage startups that fail after raising large amounts of capital fail for this reason. Most markets are conducive to businesses with DIS-economies of scale, implying dwindling margins with scale, which is why many businesses are small, serving local, fragmented markets that technology alone cannot consolidate. How do your unit economics improve over time? What are the efficiencies generated by economies of scale? Is there a real network effect that drives these economies?
Image courtesy Getty Images
I expect today’s resourceful founders to seek partners, whether it’s employees, advisors or investors, to help them answer these questions. Together, these cognitively diverse teams will work together to accelerate past any metaphoric valley and build the iconic companies taking humanity to its fantastic future.