Running a Zombie Company Web App

Startup failures are a standard part of the technology world. One of the interesting aspects of web-based businesses, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) or otherwise, is that many times no human is necessary to service existing customers or sign on new clients (e.g. it’s a self-service tool). What happens when the founders determine the startup is no longer viable and decide to move on yet there are a modest number of paying customers?

More often than not, I hear entrepreneurs that are moving on from their startup decide to keep the app running, along with the small amount of revenue coming in. Here are a few thoughts on running a web app for a zombie company:

  • Rarely does maintaining a web app prove to be worthwhile financially if you truly value your time (e.g. value your time at $200/hour and see if it’s actually worth it)
  • Many customers would like to know that the app is no longer going to be improved, or at least what the company status is going forward
  • Fully shutting down the web app, with appropriate notice for the customers, can be cathartic and help with closure for the entrepreneurs

More often than not, it’s better to shut down the service rather than leave it up.

What else? What are your thoughts on zombie company web apps?

2 thoughts on “Running a Zombie Company Web App

  1. If you value your time at $200 an hour, then your new startup won’t measure up as well (ok, some might measure up but definitely not all).

    The question is if your startup has come ahead of time (market not big enough yet or technology needs to proliferate). If you are serving a very niche market that grows slowly, you might give it time by taking a sabbatical and re-evaluating it every 6 months.

    Supporting web apps (hosting) is extremely cheap.

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