What to do when a 800 pound gorilla enters your business?


We had launched blogVault, a wordpress backup service, about a month back. A week later, Automattic, the company behind Wordpress, launches Vaultpress, to massive coverage. This service does pretty much what we do.

We were initially hoping to build some SEO/SEM traffic around Wordpress related topics, but now we are in a position where almost anybody who would want such a service would have heard of Vaultpress.

What are the ways in which we can tackle such a situation?

Competition Product Management Wordpress

asked May 6 '10 at 17:47
175 points

7 Answers


I think you should look at it as an opportunity. They are building a good market for you.
They build awareness on backing up WordPress.

Now, build a better product than them and own it. Or build a product that compliments theirs.

Look at the example of SourceGear.

They make a living of writing software to replace SourceSafe and its shortcomings. Microsoft created the market for them, they just used it.

Gorillas are slow animals you know; especially the 800 pounds ones 8-)

answered May 7 '10 at 01:34
Stefanos Tses
981 points
  • Thanks. We are too hoping that they will increase awareness for the product category. – User3348 13 years ago
  • @akshatc. Use your advantage of being agile. They are creating a huge opportunity for you.. Good luck.. – Stefanos Tses 13 years ago
  • Can't gorilla's run up to 25mph? – Xepoch 13 years ago
  • @Xepoch: The question is how fast they can stop/change the direction. ;) – Thejh 13 years ago
  • @thejh, I bet quicker than a human :) – Xepoch 13 years ago


This is what you're going to do.

Not only should you beat them at their own game, go ahead and build a backup system for Movable-Type, Tyepad, Expression Engine.

Put great emphasis on your security and customer servicer. The latter especially. Automattic is a mid-sized business now, chances are you can dedicate more to customer service than they will.

I agree with the commenter that said this is an opportunity. Wordpress just validated your idea, go ahead and expand the model to other platforms as well. Thats something Automattic won't do.

answered May 7 '10 at 04:01
101 points
  • I totally agree. Their product is tied to WordPress, yours is not. Not only did they validate your idea, they forced you to shift at the right time. – Joe A 13 years ago
  • This is something we are planning to do, but since we already have a Wordpress version working, we were looking at getting some sort of traction first. – User3348 13 years ago
  • Once you can back up from multiple providers, consider offering easy migration from one service to another. That is probably a niche that Wordpress will not venture into. There could be other features they won't do. – Dbkk 13 years ago
  • Yes if you could develop a "platform-agnostic" backup that could be "restored"/converted to any other platform you support you've probably got something that is unique and not headed in a direction that Automattic would. What you want to sell here is the idea that people are not locked in and their blog is not tied to the solvency of this one company. – Jeremy 13 years ago


Phew, that's a difficult one. Don't take the suggestions you get here as truth, think deeply about this yourself.

If the "gorilla" was Microsoft or another company that needs to price its products high, then I would say go for a lower-cost, alternative vendor strategy. But Automattic is very used to competing with inexpensive / free services, so I think this strategy would fail.

How strong are your emotions about BlogVault? Are you deeply invested in it, are you seeing many brilliant things you can do with this product, are you energized at the thought of what the final product / technology will look like -- or is it "just" another business opportunity for you, a way to a company and some money but not especially dear to your heart?

Some thoughts:

  1. Pivot. Is there something in the work you've done so far, something in your technology or better yet in your customer's wish lists, that looks like a promising possibility?
  2. Try selling your customer list and other assets to Automattic? You could approach them, and suggest a orderly hand-over of your current assets to them for a price. This could be in everyone's best interest (yours, Automattic's, the customers because they will get ongoing service, etc).
  3. If you have just started, and you have no costumers or no investments to speak off -- just close down, and walk on... Allow customers to get their data out, or write up a guide on how to migrate to Automattic's service, and then keep the site up for 60 days to allow everyone time to migrate...
answered May 6 '10 at 19:30
Jesper Mortensen
15,292 points
  • Logically, what you are suggesting makes sense. While there is not excessive emotional attachment to blogVault yet, I still do not want to run away from this challenge. I want to see if I can build a viable business around it. I agree that I may need to pivot, but am looking for ways in which I can compete with Vaultpress. – User3348 13 years ago
  • @akshatc: Sure, I understand. But one thing, there are markets that are large enough for many companies with many differentiated products, and there are niche markets that are barely large enough for one company. I have not seen a rational argument presented for why "hosted Wordpress backup" has a market large enough for several players. **I'm sceptical, but on the other hand, I also don't really have an argument for the opposite.** I'm just trying to say do some research, and don't fall into the fallacy of large numbers, cf Guy Kawasaki. – Jesper Mortensen 13 years ago


A service to backup Gmail/Google Services is needed. If Google ever failed, 90% of my digital life would be lost.

answered May 7 '10 at 03:00
116 points
  • Chicken and egg. The company offering the backup is more likely to fail than Google. – Dbkk 13 years ago
  • Yes. But probably not at the same time though... – Anders Hansson 13 years ago


Sorry to hear, if you want to continue your business it looks like you have no other choice but pivot - find something you can differentiate yourself from your competition (better / faster / cheaper).

answered May 6 '10 at 19:09
Michal Slocinski
28 points


Look at the value proposition for your product. Can you add more value to customers than Automattic?

Look at your target market. Can you cater to a different market niche, or smaller niches that Automattic has overlooked.

Can you adapt your technology to a different industry?

And also, what do you really want to do? If this is it, be prepared to stick in there. Most industries can support more than one competitor. Think about how you can be faster, nimbler and add more value to your customers.

answered May 8 '10 at 19:36
Susan Jones
4,128 points


In addition to faramarz statement that you should also integrate backups for other plattforms, a migration to would also be a great feature to stand out.

answered May 9 '10 at 22:52
Tom K32
101 points

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