Riding the Elliot hype rollercoaster: and now what?

Photo by Andy Kelly on Unsplash

Update: As of July 7th, 2020, the linked tweets were deleted. I kept the screenshots for reference.

Since the first appearance of the Elliot commerce platform last year we’ve been following the project very closely with no little excitement.

In 2016 I wrote an article about what I considered “The future of e-commerce”, sharing my vision of all the features that a modern e-commerce platform should offer from scratch to make developers and the business owner’s lives easier. During the last four years, we’ve learned a few more lessons and I’d add some more items to the list, like taking advantage of Serverless technologies to remove the need for managing infrastructure. These ideas have been our beacon for many of the things we’ve done, like our very new open-source framework Booster!

High-scale e-commerce is challenging, it inspired us to create new ways to write code!

The first time we saw Elliot’s proposal we perceived it as the breath of fresh air that the industry needed, checking most of the boxes of what we’ve been missing in e-commerce, like offering a fully-fledged headless API that allows total creative freedom to build amazing user experiences for our customers or supporting all sort of devices. At the same time, they brought an innovative win-win model that made a lot of sense (100% free if you don’t sell), or attacking major pain points like integrations with payment and shipping services! All of that served in a SaaS + Serverless package that makes it easy to start and easier to extend and scale without the need of dedicated ops teams.

For all these reasons, we couldn’t be more excited when we saw their plans of releasing a new version on June 18th, would this mean the end of fighting Magento or Shopify limitations to build custom UIs and experiences? Was this too good to be true?

Link to the Tweet

Well, it turns out that some things didn’t go as expected and the situation escalated quickly to a totally unexpected outcome. Firstly, they had to roll back the release, apparently not a big deal, we’ve all been in similar situations:

Link to the Tweet

A couple of days later, they shared that their infrastructure was being DDoSed at release time, so it seemed totally reasonable to delay it, I think that anyone can understand that.

Link to the Tweet | Link to the letter in Google Docs

But in a totally unexpected turn, their CEO resigned over twitter:

Link to the Tweet

And a few days later, the whole project is canceled

Link to Tweet | Link to the letter in Google Docs

I don’t know the details of what happened, the story, as it has been publicly explained, doesn’t make much sense, so we’re missing important pieces of information here to blame anyone. What is clear is that the release failed in a way that they thought wasn’t easily recoverable. For me, their (very well) marketed value proposition had no loose ends, but that’s only one of the thousand pieces that have to fit in place for a business to be sustainable.

What I know is that this is bad news for the e-commerce industry. The technology in this space has been stuck for too long, and we really need an impulse of innovation.

Anyway, we can learn something valuable out of this: their value proposition made a lot of sense! They tested a different approach, both from technology and business perspectives, removing several of the long-claimed pain points, and got a clear market fit, with a significant part of the community becoming excited, they’ve shown us that a future with fewer limitations and more possibilities is possible for e-commerce.

I don’t know you, but I really wanted this project to succeed, their marketing and energy were amazing and contagious, and many of us might be feeling that they’re leaving a void behind. That’s why our team at The Agile Monkeys has decided to start an open-source side project to discuss and explore the possibilities of Booster to build a top-notch headless e-commerce. We feel that, more than ever, we should fight back and give some love to a space that has been lacking from real innovation for too many years. If it resonates with you, come and join us!

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Javier Toledo

Javier Toledo

Cofounder and CTO @theagilemonkeys . Tech hipster. Co-invented @boostthecloud . Working remotely from Canary Islands. Husband of @alicia_robaina and 2x dad.