TextDrive No More, AKA Screwed by Joyent

I stumbled onto Ruby on Rails in 2004, right when it had been publicly revealed. After digging into it and loving it, I was quickly looking for good ways to host sites created with the nascent framework. Around that time, TextDrive was just getting underway.

TextDrive was shared hosting for nerds who wanted a shell, a place to play with stuff like Rails while being stable and reliable. Sounded great. There had been what they called the “VC”: a group of people who paid a lump-sum of money to get a lifetime of shared hosting for helping to come up with the money to get the company going. I’d barely missed the first “VC” round, but they held a second right after, and I signed up. I don’t recall exactly how much right now, but I feel like it was $400 or so. This was in 2004-2005.

Over the years, they offered upgrades to their latest offerings. I took almost all of these add-ons, as I believed in what they were doing.

For instance, the “Mixed Grill” was one such offer I took, just after TextDrive became Joyent. For $500, it added on cloud storage (more rare in this form back in early 2006) and the new “Joyent Connector”, which was to be a hosted service with a bunch of features small companies want, like email and calendaring.


Note that in the offer above the question, “How long is it good for?” is answered with “As long as we exist.” Not only does Joyent still exist, but it’s a successful, ongoing concern. We “VC” didn’t pay too much, but we did put out an outsized-for-the-times amount of money to back something we believed in.

Today, I received the following email from one of the original TextDrive co-founders:

Action Required: Legacy Service End of Life

Dear Scott W. Hill,

We’ve been analyzing customer usage of Joyent’s systems and noticed that you are one of the few customers that are still on our early products and have not migrated to our new platform, the Joyent Cloud.

For many business reasons, including infrastructure performance, service quality and manageability, these early products are nearing their End of Life. We plan to sunset these services on October 31, 2012 and we’d like to walk you through a few options.

We understand this might be an inconvenience for you, but we have a plan and options to make this transition as easy as possible. We’ve been developing more functionality on our new cloud infrastructure, the Joyent Cloud, for our customers who care about performance, resiliency and security. Now’s the time to take advantage of all the new capabilities you don’t have today. Everyone that’s moved to our new cloud infrastructure has been pleased with the results.

We appreciate and value you as one of Joyent’s lifetime Shared Hosting customers. As this service is one of our earliest offerings, and has now run its course, your lifetime service will end on October 31, 2012. However, we believe that you will enjoy the new functionalities of the Joyent Cloud. To show you our appreciation, as one of Joyent’s lifetime Shared Hosting customers, we’d like to offer you a free 512MB SmartMachine on the Joyent Cloud for one year. Use this promotional code to redeem the offer.

Promotional Code: redacted

Please review the Terms and Conditions for the Joyent Cloud One Year Free 512 MB Machine Promotion by visiting this link.

To find out more about the Joyent Cloud and your options, please follow this link to our migration center for additional details.


Jason Hoffman Founder and CTO Joyent jason@joyent.com

The mealy-mouthed language of the message is insulting. I don’t know about you, but the statement, “your lifetime service will end on October 31, 2012” reads like a joke. And, “To show you our appreciation, as one of Joyent’s lifetime Shared Hosting customers, we’d like to offer you a free 512MB SmartMachine on the Joyent Cloud for one year” is another gem. If Jason wants to show his appreciation, I’d prefer he just honor the agreement giving me lifetime hosting. As to the point that I am “one of the few” that haven’t gotten on-board with their latest offering, check out the reaction on the web and Twitter. There are more than a few of us.

There are plenty of comments out there that we should shut up since we were obviously suckered and should have known better than to expect a lifetime of service. Maybe so, but I expected that any loss of this account would be due to the company going belly up, as opposed to being screwed by the same people who both took my money and also recently took $85 million in VC money.

Joyent should be ashamed and I hope this reflects poorly enough on them to cost them some business they value more than they did mine.