Week 6 Discussion Topics
Paul Easterwood, a recent graduate of Colorado State University with a degree in computer science, entered the job market during a slow point in the economy. Tech sector positions were hard to come by, and Paul felt he wouldn’t be making anywhere near what he was worth. The only offer he received was from an entrepreneurial firm, Pentaverate Inc., which produced freeware. Freeware, or public domain software, is offered to consumers free of charge in exchange for revenues generated later. Makers of freeware (such as Adobe and Netscape) can earn high profits through advertisements their sites carry, from purchases made on the freeware site, or, for more specialized software, through fee-based tutorials and workshops offered to help end users. Paul did some research and found an article in Worth magazine documenting the enormous success of freeware.
Pentaverate Inc. offered compensation mainly in the form of stock options, which had the potential to be highly profitable if the company did well. Paul’s job would be to develop freeware that people could download from the Internet and that would generate significant income for Pentaverate. With this in mind, he decided to accept the position, but he quickly realized he knew very little about business. With no real experience in marketing, Paul was at a loss to know what software he should produce that would make the company money. His first project, IOWatch, was designed to take users on virtual tours of outer space, especially the moons of Jupiter (Paul’s favorite subject), by continually searching the Internet for images and video clips associated with the cosmos and downloading them directly to a PC. The images would then appear as soon as the person logged on. Advertisements would accompany each download, generating income for Pentaverate.
However, IOWatch experienced low end-user interest and drew little advertising income as a result. Historically at Pentaverate, employees were fired after two failed projects. Desperate to save his job, Paul decided to hire a consultant. He needed to figure out what customers might want so he could design some useful freeware for his second project. He also needed to know what went wrong with IOWatch because he loved the software and couldn’t figure out why it had failed to find an audience. The job market has not improved, so Paul realizes how important it is for his second project to succeed.
As a consultant, what would you do to help Paul figure out what went wrong with IOWatch?
What ideas for new freeware can you give Paul? What potential uses will the new software have?
How will it make money?