Sunday, October 11, 2009

A Cloud Over the Industry


Regrettably, based on Microsoft/Danger's latest recovery assessment of their systems, we must now inform you that personal information stored on your device - such as contacts, calendar entries, to-do lists or photos - that is no longer on your Sidekick almost certainly has been lost as a result of a server failure at Microsoft/Danger. That said, our teams continue to work around-the-clock in hopes of discovering some way to recover this information. However, the likelihood of a successful outcome is extremely low.

This kind of monumental failure casts a cloud over the entire industry (pun intended). How did it happen? I do not believe Danger could have operated without sufficient redundancy and without backups for so many years, it simply does not pass the smell test. There must be more to the story.

On possible theory for unrecoverable loss of all customer data is actually sabotage by a disgruntled insider. This is, itself, pretty unbelievable. Nonetheless according to GigaOM, when Microsoft acquired Danger "...while some of the early investors got modest returns, I am told that the later-stage investors made out like bandits." I wonder if the early employees also made only a modest payout in return for their years of effort, and had to watch the late stage investors take everything. Danger filed for IPO in late 2007, but was suddenly acquired by Microsoft in early 2008. What if the investors determined they would not make as much money in a large IPO as they would in a carefully arranged, smaller acquisition by Microsoft? For example, the term sheet might have included a substantial liquidation preference but specify that all shares revert to common if the exit is above N dollars. For the investors, the best exit is (N-1) dollars; they maximize their return by keeping a larger fraction of a smaller pie. If they had drag along rights, they could force the acquisition over the objections of employees and management. If the long-time employees watched their payday be snatched away... a workforce of disgruntled employees seems quite plausible.

This is all, of course, complete speculation on my part. I simply cannot believe that the company could accidentally lose all data, for all customers, irrevocably. It doesn't make sense.

Danger Sidekick

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