Being Someone Else's Bitch, Being Your Own Bitch… Or Making Others Your Bitch

from the platforms dept

We recently had a story about how the makers of iFlow Reader, an ebook reader for Apple devices, was forced to close up shop, after Apple changed the way things worked with in-app content purchases, meaning that it was impossible for iFlow to make money on Apple’s platform. At the time, we pointed out how dangerous it is to rely on a single platform provider for any business, and we’re still amazed that any company does that. And yet, we’ve seen similar things for years. Numerous companies rely entirely on one big company for pretty much everything about their business — from Google to Facebook to Microsoft to Twitter to Apple, there are stories of all sorts of companies who pretty much could be wiped out in a single move if the larger companies changed certain terms.

I’m constantly amazed at how many companies fail to recognize this, and build business models that rely entirely on a third party. This goes beyond just software companies, as well. We see it with content creators who rely on a single provider/partner as well, rather than recognize that success comes from building a sustainable model that doesn’t rely on a single provider.

A few weeks ago, in response to some questions about Twitter’s recent changes, which appeared to screw with developers who relied on Twitter as a platform, Twitter investor Fred Wilson told a conference audience: “Don’t be a Google bitch, don’t be a Facebook bitch, and don’t be a Twitter bitch. Be your own bitch.” Add to that a statement from a day or so later from Google’s Eric Schmidt, in which he noted that if you want to be rich, you should build your own platform on which others build, rather than relying on others, and there’s a bit of an important pattern to recognize here. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you can’t build on others’ platforms — everyone builds off of someone’s platform, but the question is: who are you reliant on going forward?

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Comments on “Being Someone Else's Bitch, Being Your Own Bitch… Or Making Others Your Bitch”

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benthic (profile) says:


So you don’t use an iPad, iPhone, Laptop running OSX, Windows or Linux, Desktop running OSX, Windows or Linux, server running OSX, Windows or Linux.

How the hell do you expect to get anything done, including running this website without the hundreds of thousands of developers out there who have made themselves a “bitch” to one of the above mentioned systems in order to provide you with the tools you need to do your job.

Beyond stupid doesn’t even begin to cover your statements.

Yes there are risks to being someone’s bitch.

But striking out on your own to be your own bitch is risk free right?

I consider this particular post one of the piles of dung I have to wade through to find the diamonds that keep me coming back to Techdirt.

Less dung please, more diamonds.

Flaming Dragon says:

Bitch all over the place....

I guess you all would like it if I went n-word, n-word, n-word or maybe k-word, k-word, k-word (some of you eastern europeans can ask your grandparents for that word). Or maybe you all would like to hear r-n-word, r-n-word, r-n-word (that’s for you southern types). And on it goes. Now just what groups want to sow discord between men and their women, particularly between the more privileged kinds of men and their women. Well, I’d suspect any down group male who thought it might profit him.

So, give it a miss. The better kinds know they don’t make a profit out of insulting women, especially their women. The rest of you might not be getting any, but for you young and uninformed types….guess what, maybe that is why you aren’t getting any.

John Doe says:

Re: Re: Bitch all over the place....

person who sits in the middle seat in a car

In biker lingo it means the person who rides on the back of a motorcycle in which case is mostly women.

But seriously, I can’t imagine many people are offended by the use of the term these days as it has become so common and isn’t used as a gender specific reference much either.

Angry Puppy (profile) says:

Re: Bitch all over the place....

I guess I should feel good about myself. Except for the n-word reference I have no idea what any of the others are.

I do agree that the casual use of the word “bitch” is denigrating but at the same time the context has it in no way referring to women and no one has offered a better substitute.

I suggest do not be a “prisoner” to a platform.

Still Flaming about it Dragon says:

Bitch all over the place

The use of the n-word ain’t about blacks and the use of the k word ain’t about Jews and the use of r-n-word ain’t about southern whites. Just why does a put down for women get a pass when the others don’t? Just because “everybody’s doing it?” When I grew up the n-word and the k-word were commonplace although not “done” by nice folk. And it wasn’t a statement on blacks or Jews or anyone else then either. And why was everyone so sensitive????

I heard “bitch” plenty of times as a prison librarian. For the first few years, everytime a man said it I envisioned a black women. Because the men I saw using it were black. And then it started being fashionable on television and just what ethnic groups were promoting it then. Well, it sure wasn’t the WASPs. So, now it’s all fashionable. Why would anyone start a “hate women” insult? Because they hope to elevate their own status by pushing women down?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Bitch all over the place

Let’s see, the first two definitions of a bitch refer to dogs.
Dogs are generally owned by people and dependent on them for food, shelter and what not.
So by being my own bitch, I should not be dependent on others, I should “own” myself. Excellent idea.

I don’t see a problem here.

harbingerofdoom (profile) says:

Re: Bitch all over the place

late to the show here but… an important point you bring up in your comment that really highlights the (non)point you are trying to make.

every time someone says anything you are going to envision something. just because YOU do that does not mean that is what THEY meant when they said it.

you can choose to lock yourself into your own (often incorrect) interpretation and rail against the specific words that are being used and thus bring nothing to the conversation table other than the fact that you are railing against something that is not even the topic of conversation…
you can realize that just becuae YOU have one interpretation, it does not mean that its the ONLY interpretation and actually bring something to the conversation besides this useless feel-good-do-nothing political correctness lecture that the average person could not care less about and immediately marginalizes any point you may have that actually IS on topic.

thank you and have a good day

John Doe says:

I am my employer's bitch...

…and I don’t like it. Unfortunately my entire financial future rides on them as well. I would love not being their or anyone else’s bitch.

Seriously though, I agree with your post. I see using these platforms to direct others to your own website instead of building your business directly into their platforms.

Angry Puppy (profile) says:

My Experience - Yes, do not bet on a single platform - ever!

I agree with the article. I worked on a financial reporting package that interfaced directly with Lotus 1-2-3 (yes, I am that old). Every time Lotus changed 1-2-3 we had to scramble to get a new version of the add-in and we ended up having to support several versions. This resulted in huge develpment and support costs. Then when 1-2-3 for Windows came out they added a development interface that was fantastic. All of it in a well coded and documented C library. Then, because of a promise to the original 1-2-3 developer that he could write his own computer language at Lotus’s cost, they came up with LotusScript. LotusScript made all of our 1-2-3 development useless. We also had an Excel interface (you can say a lot of negative things about MS, but the Excel development interface was and is terrific), and tried to build a Quattro addin (a development interface that was not so terrific).

With all of the trouble with 1-2-3 I suggested we develop are own spreadsheet starting with a basic design using open source code that was available and incrementally improving it over time or purchasing an existing spreadsheet like Quattro from the-starting-to-lose-market-share Borland.

The product and, probably, the company would have failed if we only had developed a 1-2-3 interface and not the alternative Excel interface.

Anonymous Coward says:

Being a Bitch is any software developers life. The fact that you stated it in terms of a platform, oh horrors.. Screw that, I’m a very good software engineer and I’m a bitch for my current company. I make them thousands of times what I’m paid. Betting on IOS and going on your own, sorry, you are screwed if they change the rules.

At least working for someone else, and getting paid a pretty penny, I don’t have to take the risks. on the other hand, I’m on the way to do some independent stuff so I’ll be taking some risks, but no way in hell am I looking to trust Apple or anyone else not to screw with my livelyhood, IOS is an “option” not a requirement.

Hedge your damn bets folks, don’t be stupid. I think Mike has been saying this for a long while.

Anonymous Coward says:

Ahh yes, being a bitch.

Let’s see. Running a 3 year old version of an operating system (apache 2.2.11, which has issues), using content delivery network systems, using third party ad tools, their party public contact tools, facebook, twitter, toolbar company, and the like. It seems like everyone is someone’s bitch, even this place.

Michael Costanza (profile) says:

Re: Another one misses the point

Our business is not dependent on any one of those things that you listed. We could easily switch web servers, “content delivery network systems,” ad providers, tools, sharing buttons and toolbars, whenever we’d like, without destroying our business.

Mike (like Fred Wilson) was simply saying, don’t be reliant on any one single platform or 3rd party system for your entire business. If we built our whole business around the Facebook Like button, then we’d be in serious trouble if Facebook decided to drop the Like button.

Now, you could say that we’re totally reliant on the internet or electricity, and you’d be correct. But it’s a pretty safe bet, for now, that neither of those things will disappear at a whim, or due to some company having financial trouble.

Michael says:

Re: Re: Another one misses the point

Electricity you have multiple providers (over different geographic areas), multiple circuits from different sub/feeder stations for more reliable power from the same provider (medium/larger corporations source ‘reliable’ power this way); and there’s always the option of running your own generator if you’re too far out or as a backup ‘provider’.

For inter-networking there is currently only one global /Internet/ as a standard (arguably two with IPv6 and IPv4); I argue that eliminating this would be akin to outlawing the printing press or entering a new dark age.

Crowhill (user link) says:

This is very relevant to publishers

While I agree with some of the comments to the effect that you’re always standing on somebody’s shoulders and using somebody else’s platform, the essential message of “be your own bitch” is very important for publishers.

Publishers can’t get in a situation where they are relying on Twitter, Facebook, Amazon, Apple or Google to deliver their content. None of those companies are interested in preserving the publisher’s business, and they will undercut it when it suits them.

The publisher needs to “be his own bitch” and create (and protect) his own relationship with his customer. Publishers should be very suspicious of third party platforms. They should use them when appropriate, but never get to the point of dependence.

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