An Open Letter to the Magento Community

An Open Letter to the Magento Community

How Magento, the company, turned from a developer’s dream into a cloudy nightmare

  • By Sonal |

Dear Magento Believers,

I am writing as an admirer of Magento, as a Magento Enterprise supporter, and as CEO of a competitor of Magento Cloud. We run more than 1,000 fast, secure, and scalable digital storefronts, including some of the largest B2C and B2B Magento stores, as a multi-cloud provider. We also run other digital commerce platforms. I would not be forthright if I didn’t say we have an interest in this message, but this letter is not about us alone. It is an expression of disappointment from a once-hopeful community.

We’d like to say at the outset that we started out in awe of what Magento stood for and accomplished. We’re still huge fans of how it has enabled hundreds of thousands of digital commerce brands to be successful with its powerful and customizable digital commerce software and unparalleled developer and community support. While other platforms came and went, Magento succeeded in catering to online retailers of all shapes and sizes, from niche customers that could work with a community version, to high-end brands, generating millions of dollars in online revenue.

We #LoveMagento, but we #HateMagentoCloud. It’s deeply sad to see how things have dramatically changed over the past couple of years. For what started out as one of the biggest digital transformations ever, it’s nose-dived faster than any of us could’ve imagined.

Here’s a bit of history:

Magento, which was originally created by people like you and me, a group of developers, as an open source e-commerce platform, was acquired by eBay for more than $180 million back in 2011. In 2015, eBay sold Magento to a private equity firm, and the new executive team was tasked with growing the company’s revenue at an exponential rate to bring the PE firm the returns they typically look for. And the executive team certainly delivered on that vision. They successfully transformed Magento from an open source community project to a massive money-making machine leading to 10x returns last year with the Adobe acquisition at $1.68B. Congratulations to them…

But how did they manage this?

The answer… by focusing on shareholder value at the expense of performance, security, and customer satisfaction. With a private equity firm as majority shareholder, all decisions were intended for one thing only – to squeeze out every last dollar from customers, developers, and partners. (As a side note, within a year of the acquisition, the leadership took their payout and left us with the remains of the strategy.)

Let us give you a few examples.

  • In an effort to catch up and drive more value to shareholders, Magento created a cloud-hosted version of Magento Enterprise (now called Magento Commerce Cloud) by cobbling together infrastructure from Amazon Web Services (AWS), CDN services from Fastly, a PaaS from Platform.sh, and visibility software from New Relic. While AWS, Fastly, and New Relic are market leaders in their respective domains, Magento Commerce Cloud is, quite literally, a cluster!

    We understand from interacting with various prospects and customers that the Magento cloud solution has severe limitations when it comes to auto-scaling and lacks essential security mechanisms. According to public sources and group conversations online, Magento has an incredibly hard time handling integration and customer support for the product, often re-directing angry customers (on the support line) to other vendors. Even though they call it the Magento “Cloud” and claim to have a SaaS delivery model, there’s not much SaaS in there besides the pricing. Do we really need to explain to Magento that true SaaS can only be built from the ground up, and not be store-bought?

    Yet, Magento sales teams are known to arm-twist online merchants into buying this sub-standard fully hosted cloud platform and developers into proposing it as the only option for fear of losing out on leads for future business. The reality is that Magento, as a software (both Enterprise and Community), is brilliant, yet Magento Cloud is just not worth it.

    “As most of our customers are small and medium sized, we can see that it is too expensive for them to move to M2. They simply don’t have the money and the pros doesn’t upweigh the cons at the moment. Therefore they don’t see the need either (besides security). If that trend continues, M2 will sorely be a platform for enterprise customers as it is too expensive to start on for small companies, compared to other platforms.”

    “my company is currently before choosing magento option (CE or EE), but we are confused with base price lists. Our partner (magento official) showed us price levels based on GMV – which are 2-3.5 times higher than the ones we can find on all websites (i.e 5-10 mil is 49000 USD and we were told it is over 100k USD base price).”

    Other platforms are benefitting from this fallout and the Magento community is losing out.

    “It’s also worth mentioning that you need to give at least 30 days notice that you intend to cancel your EE contract. Adobe will play hard ball on this. They will also run a scanner in your site, and if they detect even one line of enterprise code in any file or any lingering asset they will deny that you are on community and play hard ball on making you pay the renewal even if you gave ample notice. Adobe consider community a competitor and have an entire dept dedicated to make it almost impossible to move from EE to community.”

    If you’re an online merchant, and you’re being strong-armed into signing up for a cobbled-together hosting solution you don’t want, it’s time to speak up! Take the time to explore other vendors. You deserve a partner who works with you, not corners you into accepting something you didn’t choose. And if you’d like to have a fully hosted platform for your digital storefront, there are better ones out there – plain and simple.

  • Magento is a bad partner. In our experience, the company provides leads only to large partners that bring them Magento Commerce Cloud deals. We know. We paid the ‘Magento partner tax’ for a year and got zero leads and nothing else of value.

    Magento is also keeping its partners in the dark about the future product direction of Magento Commerce Cloud.

    “As an agency we have been left pretty much in the dark, not knowing what is coming up. We got some information at the latest Imagine conference, but sorely need more.”

  • Magento is overly sensitive to competition. They would not let us participate in their conferences unless we signed an onerous non-disparagement and liquidated damages contract that would prevent us from being able to fairly compete with them on the merits of our own platform. We don’t let bullies win.

Dear Magento Community, it is time to let Magento know that we’re not going to give in to their coercive tactics. It’s time to remind Magento that their success hinges on the success of their developers, customers, and partners. We all suffer if they play rough. It’s time to play fair and fight clean!

Customers and partners should have the right to understand their options and choose the solution that works for them and their business. Magento Enterprise or Community, Magento Cloud or any other Cloud. Let’s keep the Magento spirit of community intact so we all win.

 

Sincerely,
Sonal Puri
CEO, Webscale

Sonal

Sonal lives and works in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband, Gaurav, their two children, Rayan and Reyna, and a poodle. She spends all her energy on family, Webscale, reading and long 'thinking' walks.