Narrowing our product focus

Our original product, Channels, continues to go from strength to strength. We continue to help people from all over the world build engaging connected experiences with our realtime infrastructure. 

Over the last few years we have been building out this product portfolio into exciting new areas. 

Unfortunately, due to the current economic climate, we’ve decided to re-evaluate these new product directions. We’ve made the tough decision to discontinue one of them, Chatkit, so that we can go back to investing in the products that are more established.

I’m very sorry to the customers who took a punt on Chatkit, especially those who were existing customers of Channels. We haven’t lived up to the trust that you bestowed on us. Our mission is to help developers build delightful connected experiences, and we have made some aspects of this harder for you.

I’m still a big believer in the thesis behind Chatkit. We see more and more demand for these kind of solutions. Conversational experiences are almost certainly going from strength to strength.

So what went wrong?

There are really a number of reasons why we’ve had to make this tough decision. Some of the points may serve as warnings for others, so I’ll include them in their entirety.

Focus: it’s often said that startups should focus on one thing. At the same time, there is a need to move into adjacencies to expand the addressable market. In practice, it’s incredibly difficult to operate multiple products compared with a single product. Our limited resources haven’t really been able to get to all the fantastic things we’d like to do for this product.

Difference from previous product: this first point is exacerbated because Chatkit is fundamentally quite different from our previous products. It’s higher up the stack, it attracts different kinds of buyers, it has a different sales motion. Coupled with these products being at radically different points in their lifecycle, and it’s a recipe for confusion and dispersed energy.

Complexity: being higher up the stack also means that this product is much more complex than Channels. It is extremely hard to apply our exacting standards to a critical piece of infrastructure with so much more complexity. In the end, we found it too slow to get to all the exciting product features we’d imagine for it.

Competition: we were pretty early in this space. We’d seen the signs from Channels, and we moved fast to come up with a solution. However, due to the other factors, we just couldn’t make the progress we wanted against a crowded (and well-capitalised) competitive field.

Ultimately, in this climate, we have to drive energy into our earlier products that are more proven. The good news is that we have many ideas for how to improve Channels and Beams. We will continue to make it easier for developers to build connected experiences. We’ll focus on rapidly providing value to our customers in this fast-moving world.

I’m encouraged by the people we have gathered together for this mission. I look forward to working with the customers who humble us with the trust they place on us. For customers who are impacted by this decision, we will work hard to get you moved to alternative providers.

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