Lights Out Bitcasa; Amazon “Unlimited Everything” arrives

bitcasa-sIt’s been a rocky 2 years with Bitcasa…like a very bad dream. The company still exists, but Infinite Drive was just a pipe dream. More than just poorly executed—It was a promise replaced by lies. Bait-and-switch, plain and simple.

For Bitcasa, a future filled with missteps and mistakes was foreshadowed when someone got the incredibly uninspired idea to give founder Tony Gauda the heave ho. He was replaced by Brian Tapitch, who promises to return calls, but has difficulty with that effort if the caller dares to mention Tony.

amazon-cloud-driveBut Infinite Storage fans have a new sun dawning. Amazon is entering the “infinite” game with a knockout price on Amazon Cloud Drive. Users can squirrel away unlimited photos and videos for an absurdly low $2/month, or pack rats like me can choose Unlimited Everything for just $5 a month. Think of it as Infinite Storage redoux! I signed up for a 3 month free trial and you should too.

When the trial ends, $60/year covers truly unlimited personal storage. This is not a kitchen sink approach. Amazon Cloud Drive doesn’t come with the collaborative features that form the backbone of Dropbox or Google Drive. They assume that you have your own apps and tools. Unlimited Everything is for users who want drive access from everywhere and rock solid data backup.

I had high hopes with Bitcasa, because their clever use of convergent encryption buttressed their radical business model. I got it wrong that first time, but a rudimentary understanding of economics and shareholder politics suggests that Amazon is less likely to deceive their users and more likely to test services constantly.

At just $5 per moth, Amazon’s infinite storage is almost as low as Bitcasa’s special to beta users and considerably less than what that they promised, but failed to deliver.

Whoops! Did I leave out the sordid details? Wild Ducks can catch up here:

5 thoughts on “Lights Out Bitcasa; Amazon “Unlimited Everything” arrives

  1. I believe that we will soon see that replacing Tony Gauda’s as CEO was a good move as was the decision to raise prices. It is likely that needed investment capital was contingent on raising prices and hence replacing Gauda, but neither of us really know. Bitcasa’s revenues may have increased tremendously with the price increases, but neither of use really know about this either. As far as competition from Amazon, that was certainly not the fault of Gauda’s replacement and there would have been nothing that Gauda could have done to prevent it.

    Also, if a company raises its prices, with advance notice and no penalty to current customers, why do you characterize this as “… It was a promise replaced by lies. Bait-and-switch, plain and simple.” ?

    What promise? Did they promise to freeze prices forever? I thought that raising prices is a tool available to business managers. This is called “capitalism”. Referring to the two stories linked here:

    2015:
    http://finance.yahoo.com/news/bitcasa-named-advanced-technology-partner-160000379.html

    http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/01/prweb11490910.htm

    … Amazon might buy out Bitcasa for technology, customers and employee expertise. That would mean that Bitcasa management and others with stock options will make a ton of money quickly, just before they probably would have gone out of business on their own, with or without Gauda.

  2. Hello Mr. Brasov,

    You asked: “What promise? Did they promise to freeze prices forever?”

    I accept your challenge, Mr. Brasov. I would gladly back off of my claim that Bitcasa has swindled users by lying and reneging, if only it weren’t true…

    Footnote #24, 25 and 26 to the Wikipedia article on Bitcasa links to statements from Bitcasa staff in response to customer inquiry. (It is revealing that Bitcasa has excised the entirety of customer feedback in citation #25, but you can still read it. Wikipedia now points to these Blog entries in Wayback Machine at archive.org).

    Spefically, in citation #24, there is an exchange between a user and a Bitcassa staff member. It underscores their commitment to retain the original price—for as long as any existing customer in good standing wishes to renew. Yet, the promise barely covered one renewal period. Exactly one year later, they abandoned their existing customers, even though they insisted that only a fraction of 1% had abused the service.

    I won’t be surprised if Bitcasa removes this entry too. And so, I have pasted it below from this page. [Emphasis added by me to draw focus]:
    _____________

    bitCollector, on 25 Nov 2013 – 6:56 PM, said:
    First off, thank you for putting existing users on grandfathered plans that allow us to continue paying the original cost.

    » But, can you please provide us with a guarantee that this will continue forever (well, as long as (i) we keep paying for our existing subscriptions at the original price point, and (ii) that bitcasa is still in business).

    As without this, the service becomes unusable for existing users.

    As a grandfathered user, currently I can keep adding data to my drive without worrying about the amount of data stored.

    Therefore increasing the amount of space used.

    But if at some point in the future you say no you have to upgrade to a hugely inflated price, and I can’t afford it then all my data is, how shall I put it, basically “stuffed”.

    I need a solid guarantee from Bitcasa, that the grandfathered accounts will exist for the lifetime of the subscriptions.

    (I could have added this to the “Clarification Please on The Linux Client and Grandfathered Plans” post, but this is just about the grandfathered plans, not the linux client. I just want to be sure that my existing account is ‘safe’ for the future)
    _____________

    Kyle, on 26 Nov 2013 – 3:45 PM, said:
    @bitCollector: Our new subscription structure was designed for long-term sustainability, and takes into account that there are users on our old Infinite plan. » As long as your account remains active and in good standing, it will be unaffected by this pricing change.
    _____________

    okko, on 26 Nov 2013 – 3:49 PM, said:
    Being a devil’s advocate, and maybe arguing semantics, but you say this pricing change. That doesn’t encompass future pricing changes……..

    Kevin
    _____________

    Kyle, on 26 Nov 2013 – 3:57 PM, said:
    » @okko: Someone can find loopholes in anything I say, or simply choose not to believe me. If you discover a wormhole that allows you to travel 20 light years into the future, and for some reason at that point we can’t provide Infinite storage for the price you’re paying, we may have to talk. At present, the fact of the matter is that we don’t see any reason why we would have to change the price you’re paying at any point down the line.
    _____________

    okko, on 26 Nov 2013 – 5:30 PM, said:
    Okay, Kyle, fair enough. » I will take it for face value, and thanks for your responses to the myriad of questions regarding this.

    Kevin

  3. Ellery, you have certainly done your due diligence.

    I can see that Kyle, a Bitcasa staff member, and perhaps others, did indeed promise to grandfather the current pricing for existing unlimited storage accountholders forever. Your have shown this.

    While Bitcasa should have attempted to honor the commitment for a longer period, from a business standpoint, one cannot really expect them to be bound by a rather reckless (though, not thought-out) posting. It gives away the store!…a completely open-ended, unqualified commitment in perpetuity.

    A lot can happen beyond now and the end of the year, much less between now and forever. Examples: hyperinflation, currency changes, unforeseen taxes by any state or country on storage, huge increases in storage needs such as the archiving of 24/7 real-time 1080p or 4K or later 64K video from hundreds of video cameras operated by a single Bitcasa customer.

    Clearly, someone at Bitcasa made a mistake by over committing. Bitcasa simply had to correct the business blunder with a completely new pricing model. Their investors probably brought in the new CEO, Brian Taptich, to institute the new business model with no trace of legacy pricing.

    There is no point in Bitcasa going out of business in order to honor Kyle’s reckless commitment. Kyle does not even appear to work for Bitcasa any more, and I don’t think that he was ever in management. They aren’t honoring Tony’s commitments either.

    • Mr. Brasov,

      You said:
      » “There is no point in Bitcasa going out of business in order to honor Kyle’s reckless commitment.”

      The point in honoring commitments, even if it seems reckless, is to establish trust, goodwill and good press.

      Let’s explore your two key objections to holding Bitcasa’s feet to the fire:

      1) The commitment was made by Kyle and not by the company

      Giving Kyle the keys to moderate the bitcasa.com forum and then leaving his promise posted for a year constitutes a corporate commitment. It is not as if this thread flies under the radar. It is a very popular thread with comments by dozens of angry users.

      2) You feel that living up to the commitment would put the company out of business

      The original Bitcasa business model is viable. In fact, the company acknowledges that before the bait-and-switch, only 2% of users consumed more than 1TB and almost none needed more than 5TB. These are hardly outrageous quantities for “Infinate Storage”. A better solution might be to intervene with the 2 or 3 users who consumed more than 10TB.

      I remind you that Bitcasa uses global (cross-customer) de-duping of files—even within files. This drastically reduces their investment in hardware and infrastructure. Vast private libraries of popular music and movies add virtually no storage burden to Bitcasa, even if they contain different metadata. (Search Ref: de-dupe and convergent encryption).

      That said, I appreciate your acknowledgement of my due diligence. The fact is that Bitcasa promised its early users no price increase for life. At my next renewal, they demanded a 2400% price increase (1200% for most other existing customers). This was an egregious mis-representation. It is worthy of a Wild Duck alert, and even worthy of ongoing scrutiny and the glare of a watchdog—if only to warn new customers of their track record.

  4. Here is an interesting observation (originally posted by Subscriptzero to Engadget in Oct 2014)…
    _____________

    Although they have handled this terribly, there was some actual abuse of their system.

    There’s a kind if glitch/hack between Bitcasa and Symform that allows people to get 5TB of online data from Symform for free, by utilizing Bitcasa. Symform allows users to “donate space” at a 0.5 ratio. Donate 100GB, get 50GB on Symform.

    Load up Symform, install Bitcasa, then use Symforms share space function, but instead of selecting a local drive, select the Bitcasa drive. Neither Symform or Bitcasa seems to be able to tell what’s happening. “Donate” 10TB from Bitcasa, to Symform. Get 5TB free on Symform.

    I guess if enough people did this, it could cause both companies issues. I didn’t trust it myself, but from searching around it seems to work.

    Still, Bitcasa has handled this horribly. There should be a lawsuit for this.

Ellery reads all feedback. 1st comment delayed for moderation