HotDog still sizzles, Snaglets off menu, says Sausage man

When Sausage Software went public last year, CEO Steve Outtrim was in agreement with the experts - an HTML editor was nothing to bet a company on. HotDog, the product which had earned the New Zealander $50,000 a month as a one-man business, would surely soon be crushed by the marketing might behind products such as Microsoft FrontPage. Oddly enough, HotDog continues to make money and the business once intended to replace it has been killed off.

When Sausage Software went public last year, CEO Steve Outtrim was in agreement with the experts — an HTML editor was nothing to bet a company on.

HotDog, the product which had earned the New Zealander $50,000 a month as a one-man business, would surely soon be crushed by the marketing might behind products such as Microsoft FrontPage. There seemed much more mileage in Sausage’s Snaglets — small single-purpose programs developed fast and sold online within weeks of conception.

It wasn’t until June this year, after the Snaglets business proved difficult to scale and a venture into e-commerce promised long-term results rather than cashflow, that Outtrim went back to HotDog. He found, he says, that HotDog was alive and well and still the most popular HTML editor on the market.

“Despite the fact that we’d been scared witless of Microsoft and thought they were going to eat us alive, and the fact that they’d bought all that shelf space for FrontPage and invested very heavily in marketing and advertising it ... our market share had actually increased in the face of competition from Microsoft.”

The product, he admits, had languished for nearly 18 months, not getting the upgrades it needed “because we were so busy looking for this other stuff, like Snaglets and e-commerce and telling ourselves we had to get into this as soon as possible, because HotDog was going to die.

“The product wasn’t nearly as good as it should have been and basically what carried us through was the fact that our brand was so strong and the name was so well known on the Internet.” August’s HotDog 4 release got it back on track, says Outtrim —and the reviewers have tended to agree.

Now, he says, Sausage can be viable as a single product company. “Look at a company like WordPerfect — the guys who founded that sold up for a billion dollars. Quark Xpress is another example.”

In the longer term, Outtrim expects the installed base of HotDog developers to be the natural market for Sausage’s eVend e-commerce suite. The software was developed to meet Sausage’s internal needs “and we made a decision very early on that if we were going to spend money doing this e-commerce stuff then we had to build products out of it and get that money back”.

The Java-based eVend can be integrated with existing applications and Outtrim says that by adding “four lines of code” to a version of the Missile Command arcade game written in Java “we were able to give it access to the entire eVend back end, making possible pay-per-play. We’re very interested in doing the same with the new Java Quake — because that’s a whole lot cooler”.

eVend is at www.evend.com and Sausage is at www.sausage.com.

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