The team messaging app Quill stopped their services after an acquisition, sending their customers scrambling to migrate to a new solution. Here’s how to choose a tech provider that likely won’t shutter its doors anytime soon.
•Published: Dec 22, 2021
Quill, a software company that aimed to be a more focused and productive version of Slack, was recently purchased by Twitter to improve the social media platform’s direct message experience. Launched in February 2021, Quill was up and running for just 10 months before announcing its acquisition on December 7, giving its customers four days to export all of their chat data (not including direct messages or private channels) before turning off its servers and closing.
While it’s unclear how many customers Quill’s end of life affected, the company’s abrupt exit underscores the importance of choosing a tech vendor that can partner with you for the long haul — especially if that provider proffers a functionality as important to your business as chat.
Here are four hallmarks to look for when selecting a tech provider that can grow with you.
1. Continuous Product Updates & New Features
A tech provider that continually improves their product experience for developers, product teams, and end-users proves that they invest in their product for future growth. In addition to asking your account manager or customer success rep to provide a roadmap of product features they expect to ship over the next six months, try perusing your provider’s blog.
Chances are, you’ll find articles announcing new product features, refined developer SDKs, and backend efficiencies that make for a better overall experience. Such posts will give you a good idea of how often you can expect updates from your provider.
For example, on Stream’s blog, you’ll find a Product Announcement section with articles detailing what’s new. Over the last six months, here are several posted updates:
- A just-launched Unreal SDK specifically built for video game developers
- Advanced chat moderation with automatic message flagging and blocking for a safe and civil user experience
- A v4 release of the iOS Chat SDK
- The release of Edge Server Infrastructure, which reduces chat latency for customers around the globe
These articles showcase Stream’s continued commitment to making the best possible product for thousands of customers and over a billion end users.
If your tech provider cannot give you a solid feature roadmap and seems like the product has experienced minimal maintenance or improvements over the past six months, it’s wise to consider an alternative tech company that can demonstrably prove its product evolution.
Check out our tutorials to learn what the process of building a Slack alternative with Stream could look like for your organization.
2. Notable Customers & Case Studies
Gauge whether your tech provider will be a solid partner now and later by evaluating their current customers. Most companies providing software or software components will display logos of their biggest customers on their home page or product landing pages. Make sure you give these logos a good look. Are these companies recognizable? Are they well-known or obscure? How many estimated users or customers do these other companies support?
For instance, Stream’s homepage showcases significant customers, including notable brands such as Match.com, Adobe, Under Armour, Masterclass, SoundCloud, and more.
Prestigious customers help indicate the quality of a tech provider, as product teams of large brands likely do their due diligence in evaluating third-party partners. It’s also worth reading customer case studies to analyze how a tech provider measurably supports their customers’ core KPIs, such as increased user engagement, more conversions, and improved user retention rates.
That said, even if a tech vendor doesn’t support many well-known customers, take time to explore the customers they do have. If many seem to be in the same industry as your company, they could still be an optimal solution for your business.
3. Ample Funding & Resources
A tech vendor with significant investment may have a higher chance of sticking around than a company with minimal funding, which risks going under or retiring certain products.
Typically, a company with ample investment has the resources to hire top talent and scale consciously. Plus, they likely have access to a knowledgeable board of directors, who can guide the tech vendor to make solid business decisions that support their customers.
Try searching tech providers on Crunchbase, a website that accurately displays tech industry funding information, new hires, acquisitions, mergers, and IPOs.
4. Safeguard Your Data
It’s disruptive to your business when your tech vendor shuts down. But it can be detrimental if you lose access to your data stored on your provider’s servers.
When evaluating your tech stack, be sure you read and understand the fine print on accessing and exporting your brand’s data in the event you need to migrate to a different provider.
Seek a Tech Partner That Supports Growth
Chances are, you rely on tech vendors to keep your product or your team operations up and running. While software companies may have scripted every feature from scratch ten years ago, most modern product teams componentize their builds with API/SDK solutions. Leveraging a third-party tech provider is often a more economical way to get products shipped and into the market faster.
However, it takes time to evaluate tech vendors. And there’s little more frustrating than signing with a company only to have them close down their services just months later, as was the case with Quill. By exploring a potential tech provider’s product roadmaps, customer case studies, and funding resources, you’ll choose a vendor that can enable your product to grow for the foreseeable future.
Ready to see if the Stream Chat API is the right chat solution for your product? Activate your free Chat trial today.