Startups shutting down without giving back to users. Gratefulness, anyone?

Tl;dr: Shutting down your startup product is not nice to users. Would you promise them a way to keep using your product, whenever you decide to shut it down?

Most Internet startup companies provide free access to their product (or service), intending to gather a very wide audience, seduce investors, then monetize a part of this audience in order to sustain as a viable business. At first, this seems like a good deal for startups and their users.

Nevertheless, problems arises whenever a startup company decides to shut down their product. Users feel betrayed because they invested time and efforts into that product, and that product is taken away from them without consent. This usually means that they have to look for an alternative product (e.g. another startup product), and find a way to transfer their data and habits. This is painful for users, as they were seduced by the initial startup to invest time in their product, and thus, it does not give a fair image out of other startup makers in the long term.

Reactions after Refresh is acquired by LinkedIn and decides to shut down their app.

In the mean time, some startups understand that they owe respect and gratitude to their users, and decide to open-source their product, so that users can keep using it.

Reactions after Dropbox decide to open-source Hackpad

So, together with Mathieu Ramage, we decided to propose a pledge for startups to sign. A pledge to ensure that their product will always be usable, even if the startup company decides to not maintain it.

Mathieu and I are in the process of proposing this pledge to the startup founders we know, in order to gather feedback, and hopefully, signatures.

If you, the reader, are founder of a startup product or service, please let us know whether or not you would agree to sign this pledge by filling the form below. That would help us a lot!