My second last experiences with Microsoft came through Visio.
WordWare Publishing asked me to write a tutorial book on Visio, and it sold so well that I wrote several. While Visio Corp was still independent of Microsoft, the company treated me very well. So that I could write a better book, they sponsored me for a week's training in shapesheets and the like.
Microsoft bought Visio for $1.3 billion in January 2000, and the software became nearly invisible. Aft first, I was treated well, because I was still dealing with many of the same employees. But in amongst all else, I could see The Signs heralding the future downward spiral.
Some six months alter, I was invited to meet with the Visio people under the new management, to talk strategy and the future of Visio.
The Unfunded Newsletter
The previous Novbember, I had launched an email newsletter along the lines of my successful upFront.eZine. Visions.eZine targetted Visio users, and Microsoft agreed to fund it with advertising -- as Visio before them had funded other Visio publications.
After waiting a year and the promise repeatedly broken, I shut down the newsletter in November, sending out the following to the 300 or so subscribers:
When I began Visions.eZine nearly a year ago, I had two goals:
1. A mailing list of at least 1,000 subscribers by the end of the first year.
2. A revenue stream.
It is close to the first anniversary (Nov 17) of Visions.eZine, and neither goal has been reached. And so for that reason, I am closing down Visions.eZine.
Visions.eZine is the fourth Visio publication to fail over the last 18 months. Even though there are over three million users of Visio software, this huge market is unable to support even one magazine-style product. The others failures include:
++ "Technical Design Solutions" had been a quarterly print magazine for Visio Technical and IntelliCAD users.
++ "Design-Drawing.Com" had been a monthly Web magazine for Visio users.
++ "Smart Solutions" had been Visio's own quarterly print magazine; recently converted to a Webzine posted at the Microsoft Web site, and the only remaining Visio publication.
I'd like to thank all of you who supported this effort. This is the last issue; the Web site at http://www.upfrontezine.com/visions will continue to exist, with its many tips and special reports.
To borrow a quote from Steve Ballmer, Visions.eZine has been "interesting, but not overwhelming."