Today a person was totally annoyed by some minor downtime on a free Internet service, and immediately took to another free Internet service to complain about it. “Ugh, OMG, I’m so annoyed, this stupid thing suuuucks!!!!” the person typed to all their online friends and acquaintances.
The free service had reported 99.7% uptime in the last quarter, spending $91,000 a month on more than 100 servers, with two engineers on payroll to deal with uptime and service issues.
Free Internet services that include a steadily growing mass of non-paying customers as their sole or nearly-sole business model include Gmail, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter and hundreds of other smaller companies.
“Fuck that whiner,” said the free service’s CEO, who just raised millions in a round of outside investment, even though the service essentially has no income and the valuation was totally based on devoted, frequent users. “I mean, sure, we need all these users to continue propping up our valuation or we’ll be a sadder story than Friendster and MySpace. But c’mon, our users are pretty much infinitely replaceable anyway. LOOK AT THIS CHART OF OUR MONTH OVER MONTH GROWTH. HERE, I HAVE A LASER POINTER.”