In general, it doesn’t matter whether you’re open to the public or not.

What matters much more is that you’re open with your own employees.

The “open startup” idea always seemed superficial to me, founders seeking external validation.

Over the long-term, what really matters is keeping your people (employees) happy, and one very easy way to do that is to show that you appreciate and respect them by sharing your company’s key metrics with them.

Not every month will be great, but that’s ok. If you’re running your business responsibly, you’ll be able to say “we didn’t have a great month, but we have 5 years of runway”.

If you hide metrics because your business is unsustainable, then yea, don’t show your metrics to anyone… and if you work for a private tech company with very guarded metrics, it’s safe to assume they are not doing well financially.

I don't really agree or maybe I have misunderstood the author's thesis here. Is he saying it's harder to grow a business by building in the open nowadays because so many people have already done it, so now consumers are weary of it? Or is he upset that many of these companies that were once open have stopped being open once they found success?

Just because many established companies have stopped doing it, doesn't mean it's the end of some kind of golden age. The reason these companies built in the open is in the first place is for selfish reasons - free promotion for their business while they ship. Once they have figured out the business, why should they keep putting in the extra work to tell others about it?

It’s not being an Open Startup that kills your chances. If you have an insurrmountable business advantage (it’s who you know, not what you know) and you keep the how-to details of your solution hidden behind a generic description where the solution is really hard to pull off well, being open only helps you. Firstly, by using idiots who would steal your idea to create buzz in the market for you as they pitch their silly me-too, and secondly by inspiring confidence and showing lack of insecurity, with clarity and transparency. I mean you can’t rely on NDAs anyway. Why act in fear unless what you’re doing is just run of the mill and you have no particular advantage.

I also argue that there is no net advantage to Apple's secrecy. If they had openly talked about the M1 (Apple Silicon) when they were working on it they would have just had more mindshare and the whole Apple ecosystem could have been preparing for it. By staying silent until they released it, it bought them nothing other than the element of surprise, which is like when little children don't want you to see what they're working on, in case you would take over their creative process, and instead want to surprise you with their brilliance.

I very much doubt that secrecy in the absence of insecurity has any value.

> The main reason behind my decision is that I used to share the revenue to track my solo journey. Now with someone else on my team, it’s no longer my personal milestone anymore. I somehow have to be responsible for the whole team.

Interesting how when revenue was likely equating to profit, they are open to sharing. When they have to pay someone else to help out, they want it to be a secret. I don't think the motivating factor here is very complex at all.

This is fascinating.

Thank you for writing this and sharing this, I was oblivious to all the startups that were doing this and there were quite a lot going by this article.

I think it is unfortunate that companies are deciding not to be open anymore. In a perfect world, do we want organisations to be open? It would mean investment would be easier and less risky, due to transparency.

In the interests of transparency and openness, I share all my ideas and startup ideas in the open with the hope that someone can extend the idea and society can benefit from the ideas. I am up to 700+ computer ideas and 25 startup ideas links on my profile. Society progresses one idea at a time. Somebody invented calculus with an idea.

If openness isn't safe, then we should normalise openness becoming safe and reject actions against open actors or anything that causes openness to not be safe. Reject behaviour that means openness is not safe. For a better world.

I make apps for the App Store, and instead of a startup founder I feel more like an Apple employee, with Apple commanding me around with what I should and cannot do.
We are just about starting out with my company and I've literally just made our live analytics public at https://analytics.moonka.space - it's literally everything we see.

We are using Plausible.io (kudos to them!), a privacy-first analytics platform that provides just enough data without abusing our users' data. This way, we don't even have to show a cookie notice.

I'm planning to open up our financial details as well as soon as we have enough transactions so that our clients can't be identified based on our data.

*edit: grammar

A startup I knew had someone take professional-looking pictures of new employees, and add them to the Who Works Here page, with a nice blurb. After years of employees being poached by Big Tech the Who Works Here page is gone. To me this is also part of the loss of innocence.
Other posts have touched on this: when times are good and you're not in a competitive environment, this sort of nonessential fluff accumulates because there is no countervailing force. I'm sure everyone can think of non-value-add activities that companies get caught up in because they have too much time on their hands. This is just one of them. Now we're reverting to the mean
The world is a competitive place and we are seeing some folks lose their innocence.

If what you are doing is a real business, then given the choice to protect your business or aspiring to be "open" (but with no benefit, just risk") - you focus on the business.

It's really no different than releasing too much of your secret sauce as open source - can only hurt you and is a sign you aren't that mature about what running a business through various problems is like.

I honestly had no idea what an open startup was. Spent the last 10 years working at startups and had to look that one up. For others wondering, it appears to be companies that publish their internal metrics for all to see.
Running a business openly seems to me to be what people do when they are Amazon sellers and discover a brand-new, lucrative niche before Amazon (or dozens of Chinese sellers) steal it and start selling it for themselves. Running a startup publicly, in my opinion, essentially validates ideas for others to do better, with more resources, with a competitive edge, or whatever.

This was demonstrated lately using the AI Stable Diffusion Portraits. A thousand rivals arose right away after the original author stated their money was derived from doing nothing more than setting up a website connected to steady dissemination on the backend. It increases competition even if none of those rivals are inherently superior.

I think the path in technology for open technology-based startups no longer looks like it used to for a lot of reasons - financial, maturity of online users, and more. We have really crossed a point where building a startup from scratch - without a strategic VC, ability to share customers with an established player in the market or ability to build on top of another company's technology/platform - is just not possible. The fabled guys in a garage inventing the next thing is gone.

Transparency is a tricky thing. Much information came from tribal knowledge. As rules have changed for private companies in the US, we saw some of the information being provided "as open" became the norm or required so there is less of a need to share it and there is not that "goodwill" factor. Most of what was being shared was available to some extent if you knew/know where to look.

The trend outlined in the article is that startups tend to ditch openness once they mature. I think the explanation is pretty simple - it's no longer a marketing advantage to do so. If your'e selling to a startup audience then being open gets you eyeballs early on in your career. Once you start moving into more mature markets, this becomes less interesting to those audiences so why do it? It's hard enough to be open within a company, I can't imagine the operational overhead to do this externally.
This was always a marketing gimmick.
>> they should have stopped posting about growth and revenue milestones much earlier, as there is little benefit to them.

Well sure, if that's why you were posting. You could ask the same question about being a nice person "What's in it for me?"

But if the goal is to pay to forward in thanks for the help you got along the way, this argument doesn't hold water.

Great post. The "IndieHackers" / open startup culture is pretty much the antithesis of https://blakemasters.tumblr.com/post/22866240816/peter-thiel...
The golden era is over for those startups that have matured.

If you are small, being open brings alot of momentum and notice.

This blog post isn't acknowledging that being open is actually even more viable for thousands of new startups given previous successes.

He has confused popular startups closing as the end of all openness.

About ChatGPT email assistants case I just wonder: what is the point of creating a product that could be cloned in a couple of weeks?
Sharing and being open with the right people makes sense, with everyone it is all risk.
The 184+ fart apps, dozens of scooter rentals, and hundreds of food delivery apps... all agree.

There be treasure in the long-tail of a fragmented market sector. lol =)

Who is Damon Chen and why should I take this commentary seriously?
The golden era of being a startup is gone

FTFY What if general demise of startups (due to funding drought, covid, market saturation, bad timing aka world wasn’t ready for our idea, or leave your favorite excuse in comments) also impacted open startups? And what if they weren’t successful because open but because market was easier?