An Unclear Kickoff

As an OmniFocus user, I’m always looking out for applications that can bridge the gap between my own task list and the work I do with others. This is especially true with my podcasting partner-in-crime, Mike Vardy. While I still hold out hope for a collaborative aspect to OmniFocus down the road, I needed a collaborative tool that would manage conversations and expectations but that still allowed me to do the heavy lifting on my own. In the past, I’ve experimented with Asana, but it always felt like I was managing two full-fledged task managers rather than a task manager and a collaboration manager. So I was excited when I first heard about Kickoff.

The early implementation of Kickoff seemed to meet my needs. It provided a lightweight environment for managing conversations and expectations. While it didn’t have everything I’d hope for, the execution was well done and the platform had promise. The beta was already mature enough to start using and, after seeing that Apple was featuring the app as an Editor’s Choice, I purchased both the Mac and iOS versions. Based on the early product and the prominent features, I was optimistic that it would continue to gain traction and features. 

Kickoff Featured on the Mac App Store

Except here’s the thing… it wont be gaining any new features. Despite not disclosing this on their site and in their description on the App Store, the team behind Kickoff was acquired by payment platform Stripe on March 11th. While they promise to maintain the app, they have no intention of adding new features. Of course I only realized this after spending my money on the app – and only discovered the acquisition news by accident.

Don’t get me wrong, purchasing an application is a risk. You should always assume that you will never see an update, that you’re only paying for what you initially get. Updates are gravy, not an expectation. That said, it seems dishonest that this isn’t being clearly and prominently disclosed. Yes, they are open about this on Twitter. Yes, the developer blogged about the acquisition, but the average customer will not discover this (hell, I’m a geek and I didn’t realize it).

Much as I’d like to think of this as an oversight, it seems the lack of a clear disclosure appears to be by design. It seems unlikely that Apple would be featuring the application so prominently. It’s also unlikely that people will be as excited by the app with the knowledge that it will not see any new features. While this is purely speculation, there seems to be only one logical reason not to share the good news on their website – it would limit sales. 

I don’t mind that I took a chance on an app that didn’t pan out. That happens. I do mind that it appears that the developer is limiting disclosure. More than anything this is meant to serve as a heads up to anyone who, like me, was optimistic about the potential of Kickoff but would be reticent in light of their acquisition. 

It’s also a question to developers out there: Is this even close to the right way to go about this? Acquisitions happen, but is this even close to how someone should go about handling the aftermath? People may have been frustrated when the popular iOS email client, Sparrow, was acquired, but at least they were clear about it. There’s a good chance that I’m just being entitled here, but this just seems…wrong.

  • http://www.DesParoz.com/ Des Paroz

    It’s funny, I saw that in MAS, and it always looked like the graphic stopped loading about half way through.

    It seemed as if it were somehow unfinished, which the product apparently is.

  • midbach

    Similar to my experience with Sparrow >_<

    • http://michaelschechter.me/ MSchechter

      Still, at least Sparrow was above board about it. It was on their website on the home page on day one.