As a (former) customer of Zirtual I just want you to know that I believe what you wrote above. I believe you cared immensely about making Zirtual a success, and even that you care about your employees and clients. But I have no sympathy for you, because of the way you handled these last few weeks. This wasn’t a surprise to you, you knew your burn rate. You knew you were running out of cash. I understand not informing clients before closing, but billing clients’ credit cards for 30 days of service over the weekend, and shutting down at 6am Monday morning is ethically and morally wrong. Charging customers for a service you knew you would not provide is ethically and morally wrong.
In articles and interviews you have preached transparency and open communications, but you have done the exact opposite (emphasis mine):
Don’t make change a secret
My team is without a doubt my biggest asset, which is something I never take for granted. So it’s vital to keep them in the loop during periods of change and consistently show support. Because what my employees don’t know could ultimately hurt the entire business. The sooner your team knows about upcoming shifts in the company — the better.
Additionally, give your employees ample time to adjust, as change in a company can often lead to people feeling unstable in their positions. And be transparent. Employees who can trust in the company and its management aremuch more likely to stay committed to the mission. It’s easy to want to play the ‘mama bear’ role in protecting your team during a transition, but they will respect you more if they are fully aware of the struggles that lay ahead.
You are the textbook definition of a hypocrite:
the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one's own behavior does not conform; pretense.
I will never use Zirtual or recommend the service again, in fact regardless of whether you stay with the company I will share my experience with everyone I can and steer them to a company that actually practices the values and principles they tout in their mission statement.
I’ve started several businesses, and not all of them have succeeded. Failure is a part of being an entrepreneur. It happens, and many great success stories are built on the back of failure.
But the fact that you can’t even admit your own hypocrisy and that you chose not to live up to your own values is something you can’t come back from. Whether you’re a success or a failure doesn’t matter if people can’t trust what you say.
Update: I also wrote about the whole Zirtual ordeal as it was unfolding on my blog.