Replacing the Free Site with Free Trials

To our visitors, fans, supporters, and customers:

When we first broke ground on Stormpulse.com, Brad and I were just a couple of fresh-faced entrepreneurs attempting to create something amazing.  Five years, 61 million visits, and 17 million visitors later, we can look at this work of two founders and a handful of amazing contributors and feel a real sense of accomplishment for having come this far.

But of course, we can’t stop there.  We now have a growing list of customers and prospects that want us to keep pushing our service forward.  Alongside this rising mountain of feature requests, we also have an expanding vision for weather mapping and alerting that can transform the way people manage their operations before, during, and after weather that impacts their business.

As a bootstrapped company on the web, keeping up with these demands means continually reviewing and revising our business.  One of the biggest questions that we’ve faced since Day One is how much to give away for free.  Give away too little and we may fail to grab the attention of new visitors that share the site with friends and colleagues through word-of-mouth.  Give away too much and we risk treading water and disappointing, rather than growing and improving the service for our customers.

Over the years, we’ve tried balancing these concerns by experimenting with advertising (which unfortunately makes the experience worse and worse), consumer subscriptions, business subscriptions, and larger enterprise sales and business development.

In the end, I believe we’ve learned that maintaining a completely free site isn’t sustainable, nor is it in the best interest of the people that benefit the most from our service.  Some of the world’s most important missions are using Stormpulse every day, from U.S. military bases to manufacturing facilities to transportation and shipping and energy companies.  We want to continue serving these missions to the fullest extent of our abilities.

To succeed at this, we have to have a laser-like focus.  And so, after serving up over 120 million pageviews, we’ve decided to replace the free site with free trials.  Beginning in April, visitors will be asked to sign up for a free trial and then decide if they are going to continue using the site for a yearly subscription, or whether they will instead use one of the many free sites available on the web.  Plans will start with individual subscriptions, with additional tiers of service for businesses that need to add geographic data to the platform or take advantage of our rules-based, customizable weather alerting.

Many people have asked us why we can’t also have a consumer subscription.  As our support and development teams grow, splitting our attention may become practical.  For now, we’re choosing to focus on the needs of leaders inside operations centers, corporate security teams, and supply chains, all of which can be greatly affected by the weather.

We’re looking forward to a bright future of continuing to improve our service, which so many have come to know and love and expect to remain the best on the market.  We’ve got some incredible ideas waiting up our sleeves.

We’ll be sharing updates in the coming days on the new plans and pricing that will be a part of this change (hint: they’re a lot simpler and better than ever before) (Update, 4/4/12: Here they are, as well as free trials).  As we go through this transition, we’d like to hear from you (as always).  You can share your thoughts with us at: feedback@stormpulse.com.

Many thanks from this Florida native,

Matthew Wensing

Co-founder, Stormpulse

About these ads

60 comments so far

  1. Shelly on

    I’m a Stormpulse junkie but unfortunately can’t afford the new subscription price – good luck to you, it’ll be a long hurricane season without you :(

  2. Vincent Palmer on

    I have used your site during the hurricane season on a number of occasions. However, I am not a regular visitor and it would not be worthwhile for me to enter into a long term arrangement more so that I am a pensioner.
    I will miss it when the free service ends but I wish you success in your endeavors.

  3. Mark on

    You have been an awesome site, however since I’m a ham radio skywarn volunteer, there is no budget for such expenses.
    Best of luck.

  4. Sam LeBosch on

    I am a CERT leader in a coastal community on the Atlantic seaboard. Your site was by far the best source of reliable information, especially during the approach and passing of Irene. Unfortunately, we are a group of volunteers who give our time freely and have limited means for expensive subscription services. I know in the final analysis, it’s about money and it is what it is. It’s always a shame when it comes down to that. We’ll miss you.

  5. Tom on

    Bummer! Great site for living in the crosshairs of so many Atlantic hurricanes (Coastal NC). Wish I had the dough to subscribe. SUX (But thanx for the site up till now)

  6. Charles Basel on

    Sure wish you would offer the basic (if you can call it basic, it’s a great site now) and a premium subscription site. A lot of other websites do this.with success. Since I live in Florida and ride a motorcycle, I really rely on your weather service, it’s the most accurate one on the web. You guys did such a great job! I wish I could afford a subscription to your new site, but I can’t afford cable tv either. Wish everyone who designed and engineered this site the best in the future. You guys deserve it!

  7. Scott on

    My wife and I love the site, and completely understand your direction. It irritates me to no end the sense of entitlement people have – those who claim to have made you great. You guys have made yourself great by hard work and intelligent design! You deserve the success you earn. Those who have used the site for free and complain that it won’t be available to them anymore – perhaps you should offer them their money back? ;-)

    THE REAL QUESTION – Are you looking for investors?

  8. Robert on

    First, congrats on a GREAT!! site, That much I give you guys. Throughout these past years I have used you site during Hurricane season and Stormpulse has always been there.

    Now, I understand that usually, not everything is for free. A lot of time and effort comer with making and maintaining a site like this one. But, from what I have read in the letter you guys posted, I come to the conclusion that GREED has knocked on your door. Why do I say GREED, well, Let us do the math with just the starting yearly subscription and the info you guys are giving us.

    You say that after five years you’ve had a total of 17 million visitors, so I’ll divide that number by 5, equaling to 3.4 visitors a year.

    Now, lets assume that after this move, a calculated average of 10% of that number actually subscribes to your site for the mere $299.00 a year, that would be a total of $101,660,000.00 a year. Thats a rounded $100 MILLION DOLLARS a year.

    Well, actually, let us use just 5% of that number you gave us, that’s still a rounded $50 MILLION a year.

    So, you are telling me that your operation of the site costs $50 MILLION DOLLARS A YEAR. Come on guys, it is evident that GREED has knocked on your door. I don’t know what you guys are expecting, but, WOW!!

    For those of us that have used your site over these past years, I think that we all agree that it is a great site and we were expecting that sooner or later there would be a fee for the use of it, I mean, I do understand that money has to be made to survive.

    But, in my opinion, and from what I’ve read from the comments, a starting yearly subscription of $299.00 is just WRONG. I’m not one to run your business but, I would have guessed that maybe starting at a monthly $5 to $10 would be a an OK figure, and with that fee I’m sure that a much higher percentage of people would stay and pay for your site, AND you guys would still be making a lot of money, BEING that’s the reason you are making this decision.

    So, I wish you the best of luck, and I truly mean it, but just think about the figures I FREELY gave you guys if you only make it more affordable to us the one who supported you from the beginning, maybe you’ll make more money, I mean, if those number of visits you gave us are real.

  9. thomas fredrickson on

    I agree. This is a great site. I use it every day.

  10. Frequent Traveler on

    How horrible! Learn from other online success stories offering SAS, such as Evernote and Dropbox. They’re wildly popular and realize that the numbers are in the masses (of little guys) who love the service at home and therefore recommend it at work. Please keep a free subscription option and give premium users the stuff we don’t need.

  11. Margaret Hilsheimer Stewart on

    That’s too bad. I don’t need another expense either and this is the site I used faithfully during hurricane season, here on the northern Gulf. Best of luck in your pursuits. I sure will miss this site.

  12. Charlie Showalter on

    As a survivor and rebuilder of Hurricane Katrina, your site has been such a great source of comfort in the years since. I cannot tell you enuff how comforting it is to be able to track a storm as precisely as your site can and does. I wish I could afford the 300 or 400 a year, but I cannot. This hurrican season will be just that much worse on stress and peace of mind without your site for information.

  13. hungry man on

    I used to own a auto repair shop that needed more income. then one day a radio ad salesmen came in and said his sales pitch,I was sold, bought the ad and not one penny was made from that ad. Just saying your hopes might be high.try 9.95 month.think AOL.

  14. Bob Kellett on

    Best site on the net, great job guys. I understand you must make a living also. I hope a less expensive version comes along some day, $300 is worth it, but unfortunately not affordable to most folks in this economy. Best wishes and success to you!

  15. rick hirsch on

    I have found your site to be very interesting. I really like viewing the historical data. I hope you will be able to offer a “homeowner” level in the future. I have been in business for myself and understand that “Free” and “it’s tax deductible” doesn’t cover rent, insurance, food or retirement.

  16. melanie on

    I have let a lot of my fishing friends know about this site and they agree it is the best. I would be willing to bet you that if you make this site more affordable, you will be very satisfied!!!!!! Word of mouth is always the best form of advertisement and it has made me a success in my business. I don’t even have to use the phone book anymore. Hands down you have the best weather site. It would be sad for competition (be it government or private) take your glory away with as good a site in the future.

  17. Thomas on

    Matthew – As a claims adjuster working all around the United States, Storm Pulse has been and will continue to be a valuable tool I’ll use. I thought it odd that I was getting this free but I agree with your position. It takes money to run these things. I’ll pledge my continued partnership with you guys. This site has been a wonderful hurricane tool. I might see you guys in Florida this year but you had better hope not! Best of luck!

  18. khoofard on

    Wow, I can’t believe all of the “little guy” poor mouthing from your “loyal” followers. They’re here, not because it’s free, but because of the quality you’ve rendered for free. My local TV station has a FREE weather tab but I wouldn’t trust it with my family’s life! Go out and get some corporate/business money and then, and only then, come back and look at a fee based individual consumer model. We support you, we support a capitalistic way of life and a free economy. You’re entitled to a fair profit for a fair service.

  19. Erl on

    I have enjoyed your free service, it has provided good information. The web is founded by folks who believe that information should be freed from the constraints of politics and corporations. Although I will miss the information, I’m certain that I can develop alternatives that will fill my needs. It saddens me to see attempts to sell information that you are not paying for either….or perhaps I’m mistaken.

  20. SJ on

    As someone who lives in Central America, this site was invaluable, but like everything else money is the issue. To bad, because a lot of us really needed and used the site that showed this area in this fashion. Since the info comes or is taken from the NWS why is the cost so high per yr, especially for a 6 month season.. perhaps some consideration should be made for a subscription that is only good for that time period. Nothing is free on the net anymore, and greed has destroyed that dream completely. To bad u guys will be missed.

  21. Don on

    So bummed…, but best of luck to you guys. I loved the site since you started out and I hope you can make it work!

  22. Bill Gully on

    I HAVE USED YOUR SITE OFTEN AS A VOLUNTEER MEMBER OF THE RED CROSS AND A RESERVIST WITH FEMA.. AS A RETIRED INDIVIDUAL I SIMPLY CANNOT AFFORD THE $ 300 ANNUAL FEE BUT HAVE APPRECIATED THE TIMELY AND VALUABLE INFORMATION YOU PROVIDED IN THE PAST. HOPEFULLY SOMETIME IN THE FUTURE YOU WILL PROVIDE US WITH A MORE AFFORDABLE COST, PARTICULARLY FOR SMART PHONES USING YOUR MOBILE APP. NO MENTION OF THAT COST IN THE ARTICLE. THANKS FOR THE PAST FREE ONLINE SERVICE AND AS YOU MOVE FORWARD THINK OF A WAY TO HELP US WHO ARE IN EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AS AN INDIVIDUAL. BILL G.

  23. Dain Binder on

    It would be nice to keep a free option of some type… even just the local alerts that are emailed. With no maps or anything else. At $299 to get in I will certainly not be using the service anymore. You do make an awesome site and service I must say! Having a very limited/small free consumer version would be a smart move.

  24. Josh on

    I have been using this site to guage whether or not to evacuate for a hurricane in my area. I will have to go out and find the storm track predictions from another source.

  25. Michael Roop on

    Thanks for the great site. Unfortunately, the subscription is not priced for my usage. I am a software engineer so I appreciate that you have to eat and nothing is truly free in this world. I will check back from time to time to see if there is a scaled down option some day. Perhaps a mobile app that gives some basic info for the light weather consumer such as myself

  26. Bryan on

    As a CERT/Ham/Skywarn I am going to miss this site, but if anyone deserves to succeed with a project, it would be y’all.

    • Matthew on

      Thank you Bryan and be careful out there.

  27. William Nicks on

    I have no need for more improved services. It’s just fine the way it is. I don’t need another intranet expense. I know you got to do what you need to do. Nothing is truely Free. Thanks for while it lasted.

    • Matthew on

      You’re welcome William.

      • Selena on

        I am so disappointed. Wow…it’s definitely out of my price range. Why not significantly lower the price and have more users pay the fee? This is such a great site, I will really miss it.

  28. Neil on

    Cherry picking the comments section? It’s all about the money now. Still too bad. Go ahead a delete this comment too.

    • Matthew on

      Nope, just working them in batches as we can make time. Not everything is automated around here. :) Take care.

  29. Bob in Chesapeake VA on

    Being a disabled health wise and caring for an elderly mother you site was so helpful over the past few years. Living in Tidewater Virginia it helps to know what is coming our way. Our escape routes all go under water so it “get out of Dodge” or hunker down and pray. We know it going to be bad when the Navy sends all the ships out to sea before a storm. That’s a good time to leave. Thanks for the great service! Good luck guys and try not to forget us little guys who depend on a good forecast. NOAA here I come. :)

    • Matthew on

      Appreciate your testimonial and hope we can cross paths again – we will certainly offer as much as we can to “the little guys” as soon as we can. We ourselves are also the little guys (and our family, friends …). :)

  30. Lewis on

    I am very disappointed that us average guys who built up this site following for you by word of mouth and sharing with friends, are now priced out of using it.
    I realize this is the way of corporate America and making a business more profitable, but it still sucks.
    Have you thought of maybe developing a less robust site for the devoted following and letting the operations centers, corporate security teams, and supply chains subsidize it with their subscription? Kind of fair after all of our tax bailouts isn’t it? lol
    Anyway, Good luck!

    • Matthew on

      Yes, we’ve not only thought of making a less robust site but that’s essentially how our subscriptions have been working for the last 3 years. Unfortunately, the complications of maintaining two sites and trying to sell one while supporting the other isn’t the right thing right now. If you can get any of that bailout money please forward our way as we haven’t seen any of it yet. :)

  31. Randy on

    Matthew,
    I’ve really enjoyed this site over the last year or so. And I was ready to sign up for a subscription…until I saw the price. Wow. This is definitely not priced toward the average person wanting to get weather updates.

    Nonetheless, it’s totally ok to run your business as you see fit. Working for free doesn’t pay bills and it’s your hard work that created this.

    Someone else may come up with a similar weather site geared toward the masses. I think $25/yr is probably the sweet-spot for the average person for this type service. But the current price you offer won’t work for me.

    Still, good job and all the best!

    Randy

    • Matthew on

      Thanks for the fair reply and best to you as well!

  32. Mike Goodell on

    I have been with you guys for years. Fantastic site. Disappointed, because its like the newspapers, everything else. Keep in mind, the Internet was set up for the FREE exchange of information. Gas just hit $4.17 down the road (I live in greedy CT). I would like to support you, but the pennies are not there anymore guys. Best of luck Matthew-hope it works out for you..Mike

    • Matthew on

      The cost of exchanging information continues to go towards $0.00, but the value of organizing and making sense of the information continues to climb. That’s how we see it at least. Best to you as well.

  33. Erin Palette on

    I found your product very useful during the Florida hurricane season. I understand that the economy is rough and you can’t afford to maintain a free site. However, please keep in mind that the economy is rough for us as well, and I at least cannot afford to pay $300 for a yearly subscription.

    Perhaps if you did it on a monthly basis, I could subscribe for the hurricane tracking and then let it lapse in the off-season. But you don’t offer me that option and I’m not keen to pay for the 6 months I don’t need the site.

    Best of luck to you.

    • Matthew on

      We’ve considered monthly, but won’t be doing so for 2012 at least.

  34. Doesnt Matter! on

    HAHA! Good Luck! You Forgot About The Little Guy! Money Changes Everything! No Need To Respond….I Wont Be Back!

    • Matthew on

      So long.

  35. Alexander on

    I knew this day would eventually come. As a resident of south Florida I used this site religiously when June came around. I understand your needs to make this website a subscription, but I hope you can make something for just the hurricane season for us individual users! Wish you all the best of luck!

    • Matthew on

      Thanks Alexander from another resident of the sunshine state.

  36. Ron Ford on

    I always wondered when this day would come, and frankly I am surprised it took you this long to take your site this direction. I am in the Satellite transmission business so I am always traveling into differant areas, and since Weather effects our transmission abilities, I always go directly to your site to check out Radar in my location. Your site makes it easy to get the latest picture of whats going on no matter where I am. You guys are top notch, and I send you all the best, and am looking forward to continue useing your site. One word, Apps!

  37. Jack on

    It’s a shame. I started using this web site last year, and really enjoyed it. But like everything else, all good things must come to a end. I’ve been tracking & chasing storms for 24 years now, and it always seems to come down to money ? I’ve always believed it’s been about saving lives, and I have never asked for 1 cent. There are alot of web sites that will continue to see what is coming at us…for free. Again, I have enjoyed your site, but I don;t have $300…another customer lost !

  38. Bill Noddin on

    Such a pitty As a S. Florida resident this site was invaluable for the average joe tracking where the storm was headed and making decisions that are right for the individual person before civic leaders make their decsions.

    Oh well the hunt is on for someplace new. Since the news maps suck.

  39. paul damin on

    I was just getting ready for hurricane season, and am disappointed that I can no longer use you for tracking. You defiantly had the best site, though I agree that the adds lessened it.

  40. sekimori on

    Interesting business model, to eschew those who made you successful in the first place. Good luck with that. *deletes stormpulse bookmark*

  41. Patrick Ozment on

    Hi, I’m a retired firefighter/EMT and live in Pensacola, FL (hurricane alley). In the past, I have depended solely on Stormpulse for tracking information and updates. Since hurricanes are seasonal, I don’t necessarily ‘need’ the site all year, however I do use some of the other features from time to time. If there was an individual subscription with a reasonable price, I would sign up immediately. Your product is the most professionally designed and clean interfaced one I have found so far.

    With all of that being said, my question is this…can the trial version be used more that once? For instance, we have a Cat 3 bearing down on us so I activate the trial version to monitor it, and it expires in seven days. Now, six weeks later, we have another storm headed our way…can I activate the trial version again to monitor it, or is the trial a one shot deal?

    I’m not trying to cheat you guys out of anything, but without an individual subscription available, I’m just looking for a way to keep from having to say, “Goodbye, it’s been nice knowing you!”

    Either way, I wish you the best of luck…

  42. Marie on

    As I read your update on no longer making Stormpulse free and moving to trials and subscriptions, I am disappointed in the limited availability to the common ‘man’ so to speak. It is understood your focus on stages as you move forward into a new venture of catering to larger players.
    So, with that said, I feel it is necessary to write my opinion and make it known that I have used Stormpulse since its inception for hurricane season every year. The detail offered on hurricane predictions and landfalls have been very helpful in making informed decisions each season, ie. to evacuate or not. We live on a barrier island and every hurricane season puts me in a different mindset of preparedness and Stormpulse assists in this greatly. I am failing in adequately expressing the utilization of your site as a tool for six months out of the year. Which brings me to cost. At the minimal cost of $300 a year does not make it cost effective for this average person to purchase the utilization of your site.
    I hope and pray that you take this into consideration and offer some alternative options to the ‘common’ person utilizing your site. I realize breaking this down into smaller scales can convolute the process and make it messy, but nonetheless, the consideration as time goes on would be greatly appreciated.
    Sorely disappointed,
    Marie

    • Matthew on

      Thanks for the details on how our site has helped you make important decisions in the past. We understand though that this decision-making help isn’t worth the same to everyone.

  43. Eve on

    I realize that your focus isn’t the single person who wants to see the weather. But I am disappointed nonetheless. Thank you for the use of the site until now. It was a valuable tool when Georgia was under terrible ice conditions last year, and when we were watching the town north of us get decimated by tornadoes. But as a single user, I find no option but to get my weather from somewhere I can afford now. Especially as none of those listed options address the highly anticipated and much maligned iPad app.

    Fare well and good luck.

    • Matthew on

      Hi Eve — thanks for commenting and also the comments about using the site during the icy weather in GA last year (dealing with snow in the South is … not fun). Hope our paths can cross again in the future.

  44. Yvonne S on

    How long before there’s a product for us individuals that work independently as volunteers as a part of CERT and/or any of our local emergency management networks? Living on the east coast, we have to seriously watch out for hurricanes/potential hurricanes that track toward us. We’re not large corporations or business entities/organizations, but our work is vital for ourselves and our communities.

    • Matthew on

      As soon as we are able. We’ve tried in the past (even had a former CERT Team Leader working sales for us) but the difficulties of government budget cuts and disorganization made it impossible for us to pursue at the time. However, as the brother of a firefighter/paramedic and a friend of amateur radio, I have a soft spot for making it happen if we can.

  45. Kendall Peterson on

    I knew this day would eventually come but fully support both your direction and vision. Always here to help you guys. Best of luck!

  46. Jeremy Camp on

    look forward to trying out the new products!


Comments are closed.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: