John Lennon once said, “Life is what happens to your while you’re busy making other plans.” And it is so true.
The last few weeks we’ve been forced to take a look at our business, our income, and ourselves — and it’s been tough. One of the toughest things to do is to see things as they really are — and not how we would like them to be. Sometimes the truth can be brutal.
We’ve been online since 1998 — and many of you have been with since the beginning.. We seen changes come and go on the Web, many changes for the better, and many not. We have had to learn to survive. Many changes we didn’t agree with yet we were able to adapt and we’ve never had to sacrifice a single one of our core values.
But sometimes life is a harsh teacher, she likes to give the tests first and lessons second. Both of us have spent a great deal of time discussing ways we can keep our business going while keeping our pledge of trust to those of you who have been with us since the beginning. In a world that is changing faster now than ever, it’s not been easy.
Both of us have put in more 16 – 18 hour days than we care to count. We’ve worked hard building and tending and nurturing our small business. We’ve watched some of our friends who once had prospering small businesses, close — we’ve watched as the web sites of our friends and some of those who started at the same time as we did, back in the 1990’s, simply disappear. We have watched as Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Adobe and others have bought out prospering Mom and Pop businesses — and we’ve watched too while he giants on the Internet brutally pushed the mom and pops out of business.
All the while, we’ve been able to find ways to stay current and keep our business going – and a large part of that is because of those who support us — our friends and our fans who have been with us for long time and who have come to count on us as much as we have come to count on them.
Recently, TC has had to deal with some serious health problems (but luckily, with treatment he’ll be all right), and life is what happened to us while we were busy making other plans. And as 2013 approaches, we have had found ourselves being forced to make some really tough decisions as to where we’re going and what we’re going to be doing– and in what direction we’re going to be headed in the new year.
There are some things we’d like you to know.
It should come as no surprise to you that we’ve been struggling to ends meet. Our struggles began when Microsoft introduced Windows 7, which took away the stationery-friendly Windows Mail/Outlook Express email programs that all of us had come to rely on over the years. At the time Windows 7 was introduced, our stationery site accounted for more than 70% of our businesses income and much of our growth. Cloudeight was synonymous with email stationery — and almost everyone who used Email stationery knew of Cloudeight.
As fewer and fewer people had access to Outlook Express and Windows Mail, we watched as our audience dwindled to less than 10% of what it once was. Not having the resources to develop full-featured, stationery friendly email program, we found ourselves in a very bad situation. More and more people upgraded their Windows XP computers to Windows 7. Many others upgraded Vista to Windows 7 — and all the while we were getting mixed signals from Microsoft that perhaps soon, they’d bring back Windows Mail in Windows 7 or Windows 8 and we’d be able to save our stationery site and all the thousands of days and hundreds of thousands of hours we had invested in it. Our stationery site once used by millions of people, is now used by just thousands — and even that market continues to dwindle as more and more people upgrade aging Windows machines newer versions of Windows.
With stationery fading, we began emphasizing and featuring Windows tips and tricks, Windows answers and help and other computer-related information. We were carving out a niche for Cloudeight and trying to survive as a business. Early in 2012 we started Cloudeight Direct Computer Care which has been a great blessing to us. If it had not been for Cloudeight Direct and your support, we would have been facing reality much sooner.
With TC’s recent health scare and the rapid decline of one of our core businesses, the wake-up call we received was bitter and harsh. We have spent a great deal of time recently deciding what direction we are going to take and how we’re going to survive in a increasingly difficult business climate.
First — what we are not going to do:
1. We will not start bundling our Software or using any underhanded means of funding our business — we would rather go broke than grow crooked.
We contemplated bundling software with our software at 50 cents to $1 per download. We currently average 40,000 downloads a month. We could have made an easy choice and easily ended our money woes and saved our business by bundling our software with adware/spyware/malware and duping our users into installing the bad with the good. Even though this model could have saved our business, we couldn’t do that to those who have trusted us. We turned down the company that wanted us to bundle software. We will never abuse the trust you’ve placed in us — even if it means we have to close up shop.
2. Finding affiliate software (particularly AntiVirus and security software) just to have something to sell you.
We have, for a long time, maintained that free antivirus software was as good as the kind you buy. This is our personal feeling and we used free antivirus on our own computers (business and personal). We could have legitimately claimed to have found some commercial anti-virus (Norton is paying 45% commission) and enjoyed a nice boost in income by recommending antivirus software we really didn’t believe in. We didn’t do it because we’d rather go out of business than to lie to you. We won’t ever lie to you in order to make money or save our business.
3. Partnering with other sites and products for profit.
We discussed giving up some autonomy in order to expand our business and our business model. But that wouldn’t be us. We’ve prided ourselves on thinking differently from others. We’d end up agreeing with things we really didn’t believe in — hence we’d not be true to ourselves.
In short, we’ve decided, that we’ll never sell ourselves out and we’ll never sell you out, no matter what. If selling out our customers or selling out what we believe in is the only way for us to stay in business, we will go out of business.
We’re going to stay true to ourselves…
We’ve decided to take the choose the difficult journey and be true to ourselves. We’ve looked at our services and our pricing and found out we tend to consistently undercharge for them. In 2013 we are going to change our pricing to and charge a fair market value for our Cloudeight Direct Services — keeping our pricing in line with what others charge. We believe our services are superior to any other remote computer repair service. Charging a fair price for our services is the right thing to do. We believe we offer the best remote computer repair available and we will be charging fair market value for those services based on what others charge for similar services.
We will continue to recommend and sell products that we believe in and charge a fair price for them. We’re not going to be able to offer you the same deep discounts we’ve offered you in the past — we just cannot afford to do that any longer. We will continue to offer you top-quality products and sell them at the lowest possible prices so that we can make a little money and you can save a little money; and we both win.
We want to be fair. We want you to be aware what we are doing and why our prices are going to change after the first of the new year. And that’s why we’re offering you a chance to get the products you want at the lowest prices of this year. It’s only fair that we give you a chance to save money on our most popular products and services.
We’re offering you a chance to get our Cloudeight Direct Repair Service Keys and Cloudeight recommended Software products at the lowest prices ever, until January 1, 2013. We’ll also be offering an easy way for you to donate any amount if you’d like to help us in that way too. We want to be fair and we ned
So on January 1, 2013 our prices on many of our services and products will be going up. We will make sure that our services and software will continue to be outstanding values for you. And we’re giving you one more chance to get our most popular products and services at rock-bottom prices.
Our newsletters will be expanding too… Our Windows newsletters have always been full of tips and tricks and answers to your most often asked questions. But the world is changing and smartphones and tablets are changing the way many of us access the Internet. So, we will have more tablet and smart phone tips in our newsletters for you.. As more and more of you depend on smart phones and tablets, to access Web content and Internet services, we will expand our newsletters and offer more tips and tricks for tablets and smartphone users, both Android and Apple. And of course we’ll continue to provide you with the best tips and tricks and answers to your PC and laptop questions.
We will never violate the trust you place in us…
One thing we want you to know above everything else is that we’ll never sell out the people who’ve trusted us for more than a decade. We decided if came down to going out of business or being less than honest with those who have trusted us for so long, we would rather go out of business.
We believe that if we do the right thing, then good things will happen. We look forward to being here for you in 2013 and beyond, and in helping you with your computer. If you like to take advantage of our Year-end pricing, please visit http://thundercloud.net/
And regardless what the future holds, we want you to know that we consider you our friend and whatever we decided in the future will be based on your trust in us — and in that regard, we’ll never let you down.