First is was 53,651. Now it's 20,000. Whatever the number, early adopters of Web 2.0 offerings are being recognized for what they are. Highly connected geeks with short attention spans, high levels of curiosity, and a penchant for easy distraction by the next bright shiny object.
So says Brad Feld, a VC and blogger, who cautions the companies he invests in to essentially ignore their first 20,000 users. It's an interesting followup to the TechCrunch meme started by Josh Kopelman a few weeks back and Feld makes a good argument from the perspective of a money guy deep in the game.
What I found even more interesting than Feld's post itself was the comment thread that ensued. Good input from a number of people who have obviously given this early adopter phenomenon some serious thought. The best comment came from a reader with the handle Fraser who wrote:
"The first 25,000 users aren't only irrelevant - they're potentially poisonous.
If the developers listen to the feedback of these early adopters (the initial audience) they'll take the product/service down a path that increases the geek factor rather than down-geeking the offering.
It's a difficult place to be. Many of these developers are fully involved with the blogosphere, web 2.0, ... and therefore are tapped into feedback loops that distort the reality of what needs to be completed in order to bring the product/service to the mainstream.
It's a difficult thing to listen to feedback from your initial users, the first 25,000, and do the opposite of what they recommend. You alienate your "support base" etc etc. Tough situation."
Listening is a critical skill for any software company. Making solid decisions about what to do with the feedback you receive is even more important.