Years ago, Google did something brave, bold, and innovative. They opened up GMail to a miniscule number of people and gave them a couple handfuls of invites to share with others. At the time, I assumed that strategy was as much about marketing as about scaling the service up. These days – when the tiniest, most obscure, single-use web apps are ‘closed’, invite-only, betas – this pure marketing strategy has become a parody of itself.
Cause every web apps thinks it needs to manage hockey stick growth out of the gate. Um. No.
When Twitter started, they did something more innovate and bold. They didn’t go invite. They went Fail Whale.
Open the doors, let everyone dance. When the servers stop, restart them.
No need to build and manage a temporary invite system – put those energies into solving performance problems.
“Building something people want is much harder than scaling it….If you solve the what-people-want problem, they’ll use you no matter how bad your interface is, how slow your site is, just give them somewhere worth waiting for.” – Matt Mullenweg
Invite-only launches aren’t a marketing strategy or a scaling strategy. It’s an arrogant strategy betraying how useless the actual web app is.
If the strategy is to be arrogant – at least charge for it.