Last week at PDC, Telerik launched a new product named JustCode. It was a stunning success since we had a lot of people show up for the launch and we gave away 1,000 free licenses at the event. Back in March at a planning meeting at Telerik HQ, we decided that we would embark on an Apple style “secret” strategy and go for the most buzz at launch.
Back at that meeting in March we decided that secrecy, which goes against a lot of our values at Telerik, would be required for the most buzz at the launch. But keeping a secret is not easy in the world of Twitter, blogs, and Facebook. Back in March only the development team, their closest buddies, and the senior management knew about JustCode. But that had to change soon as we started to dogfood JustCode a month or so later at Telerik. We were certain if we communicated the goal of being secret that there would not be any leaks. At the same time we decided to extend JustCode outside Telerik to a handful of vendors (super thanks to Imaginets for not only building the Work Item Manager and Dashboard, but doing it with clunky pre-alphas of JustCode.) A little later on, we also gave a super early look to the Telerik MVPs and DevReach speakers. Nobody let the news out.
Nobody that is, except me- one of the architects of the “secret” plan.
The fist boo-booI made was mention it to a fellow Telerik employee back in March just after that meeting. Oops, but no big deal, it was at least in the family.
The next snafu was in Durban, South Africa, back in August. I was speaking at TechEd South Africa and I used my non-presenter VPC to do one of my demos since that had the particular Silverlight 3.0 bits on it and my presentation VPC had only Silverlight 2.0 (long story but a different demo needed SL 2.0 at the time. Remember SL 3.0 only shipped the week before..) My non demo VPC of course had JustCode early alpha on it since we were dogfooding it at Telerik. Most of you know me and know that I love to write a lot of code in my sessions. Well I had to do some refactoring in one of my talks and boom, without thinking, used JustCode on stage. Big oops! Luckily the handful of folks who came up to me after to ask “do you have a super fast beta of Resharper on your machine?” were sworn to secrecy and kept their word of the secrecy of JustCode. (The free license I promised them also didn’t hurt.)
Next came the awesome video product teaser that generated a lot of buzz. Didn’t see it, watch it here.
Next came Basta in Germany in September. Our marketing team printed up flyers with all of our products on it. Somehow JustCode made it to the flyer! After a few frantic calls back and forth, the team at Basta decided that we would test the waters and give the flyers out. The first person who noticed it asked if we support F#. Everyone who came to the booth was sworn to secrecy. After Basta the flyers were destroyed. (Look for a few of them on eBay, they are now a collector’s item.)
Lastly was the day of the launch. I was wearing a JustCode tee shirt well before the launch. I was filming an MSDN video and also speaking at my BOF talk, so Stefan decided to put tape over the “Code” on my tee shirt to generate some buzz. It worked but I took the tape off and put it back on about an hour before the launch to reposition the tape for the unveiling, and the C and E were now showing, so people were able to guess.
Despite my attempts to sabotage our well laid plans, the launch went great. Note to Telerik: next time don’t tell me the secret product launch!
Stephen Forte sits on the board of several start-ups including Triton Works. Stephen is also the Microsoft Regional Director for the NY Metro region and speaks regularly at industry conferences around the world. He has written several books on application and database development including Programming SQL Server 2008 (MS Press).
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