The following is a cautionary tale:
In New Relic’s marketing team, we pride ourselves on applying the “agile method” of software development to our marketing programs activities: Move fast, iterate, ship stuff. For the most part, this approach allows us to grow quickly, experiment, fail fast, and then come up with something even better. But sometimes you need to slow down to make sure you do the right thing.
About a year-and-a-half ago, we set out to name our first user conference. We wanted something that reflected our focus on modern technology and software—and something that would be a lasting concept. Our team dreamed up “Future Stack,” representing the “future of the software stack.”
We liked it. Actually, we loved it. It fit our mission (specifically, related to tech and developer-centric events), and we thought it was a great representation of the conversations we wanted to have at our events: What is the “future stack” of technology going to look like?
The typical startup process
OK, so now we had a name. The issue? The FutureStack.com domain was already taken—as it seems every good name is these days. But there were no FutureStack tech events, and no conflicts directly with the name from a trademark or legal perspective. So we did what most startups would do—we secured futurestack.io and went on our way toward creating the FutureStack conference.
FutureStack: The man
As it turns out, we should have stopped and taken a moment and said, “Let’s contact the guy who owns futurestack.com and let him know our plans.” Instead, we just kept on trucking. As a result, we inadvertently annoyed one of the people in our community—our tribe. Someone who makes software and builds things each day. Dang.
Fast-forward to last week
Last week, Andrew, who owns FutureStack.com, got fed up with us and used his Twitter handle (@futurestack) to express his frustration. I’ll spare you the details, but the result was we notified Twitter about the situation, and his account was subsequently suspended. (Again, a better response might have been to email or direct message him.)
This resulted in a public debate on message boards about how we’re a mean company, and we stole an identity. No one was happy.
That’s not who we are, or who we want to be. Let’s be clear: New Relic is a collective of good humans, working together to build a great company and even better products. We’re not a faceless corporation looking to squash and steal everything in our way.
We love the communities we participate in. We love the developers, the designers, the makers that build stuff. But in this case, we irritated one of these community members, and we’re sorry.
It would have been so easy for me to drop him an email last year. We still would have used the name (honestly), but we could have been—we should have been—human about it.
So Andrew, please consider this an honest, public, apology from the leadership and staff here at New Relic. You deserved the call last year, and we never dialed your number.
Going forward, we promise to continue to work with you to get your Twitter handle reinstated. And we hope you’ll look us up the next time you’re in San Francisco or Portland. In fact, we invite you to attend the FutureStack14 conference (on our dime). And feel free to take a selfie in front of signage that reflects your name.
Seriously, we hope to see you there.