Killing Off Adesso Tubes: Probably my biggest business mistake

In 2007, Adesso Systems — based in Boston — pivoted from being an enterprise application development sync platform to a consumer-oriented file sharing system. It was called Adesso Tubes, and consisted of a tiny floating palette on your desktop that displayed names of your friends. If you wanted to share a file with one of them, you would drag and drop the file onto that person’s name on the floating window. It was like Dropbox before Dropbox.

Unfortunately, Adesso Systems fell on hard times when adoption for Tubes didn’t materialize as fast as their investors hoped it would. Their funding dried up, and in December 2007 Adesso Systems filed for bankruptcy protection. At that time, my company (Terraine) was doing well and was utilizing the Adesso sync platform to build some enterprise-level applications for American Electric Power, Stoller, and other big companies. When Adesso Systems folded, we swooped in and somehow managed to acquire the intellectual property and assets of Adesso Systems. It was an expensive acquisition, but somehow we did it.

I thought Tubes was silly. I was enamored (and still am, actually) with Adesso’s synchronization engine. So after we acquired the Adesso IP (which included Tubes), I decided to kill Tubes and instead take Adesso back to its roots: an enterprise-level application development platform with a rich bi-directional sync engine. Yup, I killed what could have been Dropbox.

Tubes was a real precursor to Dropbox, and I killed it

Little did I know that a simple metaphor for sharing files would become such a big deal. The idea of drag and drop peer-to-peer file sharing — as silly as that idea sounded in 2007 — sprouted Dropbox, Box, and ShareFile, to name a few.

Could Tubes have become an enterprise like Dropbox under my leadership? Highly improbable for a variety of reasons. But it sure would have been exciting to have gone there. And I regret it to this day.

The Adesso engine today, in 2015, is focused on enterprise-level application development. It’s claim to fame is a rich, highly granular fully bi-directional sync engine. I still swear its the best there is when it comes to offline sync. Nothing compares to it from that aspect. But it could have also had a much wider audience if I wouldn’t have killed off Tubes like a dumbass.

Avoid regret by trying

So if you are ever in a situation like the above, where you can take something in a particular direction or not, at least give it a try. Because you never know where it might lead. And if it doesn’t? At least you gave it a try and won’t be like me in this case, regretting not having tried in the first place.

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