This comes in the wake of a "no guarantees" policy toward accuracy or speed for Twitter users with more than 2,000 followers and general claims of delays, issues, and inaccuracies. Do we smell inadequate infrastructure?
As a matter of fact, we do. On April 24, Stay wrote, "Unfortunately we hit a few growing pains and snags in our servers, and have had to find affordable ways to scale as we work on that."
To mitigate the costs of scaling, users are now being begged to purchase their once-free daily emails containing stats on their new Twitter followers and friends and the tweets that may have led to new followers or losing followers. SocialToo is charging a one-time $20 fee that will reportedly "put you on a dedicated server (or servers as we get more people paying for the service) that will enable us to run your account much more frequently and also auto-follow and re-cache much more frequently for your account."
Sure, it might seem like the humane and reasonable thing to do for SocialToo users; after all, we've all got twenty bucks, right?
But over at CenterNetworks, Allen Stern reminds us of the old "if you teach a man to fish" adage when he says, "My only concern with the $20 one-time fee is that he has lost nearly all chance to get more revenue from his power users. I assume many of the SocialToo power users will pay the $20 which will provide a quick stream of cash. I'd rather see him set the upgrade as a yearly fee. This way in a year Jesse can bring in new features and grab another set of funds. At this point his only chance to gain more revenue from those newly-paying users would be to offer more services and hope that they will upgrade again."
Today's email/blog post continued, "As always, our auto-follow and unfollow services will always remain free from the time you join SocialToo forward. In addition, you will always be able to create SocialSurveys and share them with your friends for free as we have always provided."
Users are also charged negligible to moderate amounts for other SocialToo services in the usual freemium fashion.
In the past, Stay has made much of Twitter's limiting API calls to 20,000 per hour and their "pulling the rug out from under its developers" by only allowing users to follow maximum of 1,000 people per day. After having leveled such heavy criticisms in the past, stating that Twitter was holding back business growth, it is interesting that his real growth challenge should come in the form of inadequate resources for scaling the service.