Losing transparency

We are dropping transparency as a company value.

Do not index
Do not index
As you probably know, building in public is very trendy on Twitter.
"Building in public" means sharing with an audience the process of making something, usually a product or a project. This can include sharing updates, setbacks, and successes as they happen, often through social media or a personal blog.
As I built my products over the years, I’ve made transparency one of my company’s values. I shared what I was working on, I shared app and revenue metrics with everyone. I also shared what I and my team were working on, by the minute. I shared my launch strategies and my marketing strategies in detail. I pretty much shared everything.
In the last months, I’ve dropped transparency as one of my core principles, so now we have three:
  • velocity
  • multiplicity
  • profit first
notion image
I hid all the numbers, and I’m not sharing anymore, not on Twitter nor on this blog, aside from general advice.
My company is very far from being public. It’s a private company.
So why did I share in the first place?
Well, building in public is great for a few reasons:
  • It can help to hold you accountable and keep you motivated, as you are sharing your progress with others.
  • It can help to build a community of supportive people who are interested in what you are creating and can offer feedback and ideas.
  • It can help you to gain visibility and potentially attract customers, investors, or other opportunities.
All of these reasons didn’t apply to me, though.
I don’t need motivation. I don’t need investors, and I do not sell to other indie hackers. That would be too easy. In fact, I despise people who do that. Everybody’s target market seems to be other indie hackers these days.
I embraced transparency because I think every company is a glass box and I wanted to document my journey and potentially inspire others who are also interested in building something. When I started out, I wanted to show that it is possible to build something from scratch, without investors, without a team, and still make more than enough money to live comfortably.
Instead of finding supporting people, though, I attracted a bunch of people who were “inspired enough” to copy my work and my strategies, in some cases, word for word.
And the fault is mine. I made it too easy for them by sharing everything.
This wouldn’t be a problem if my tools were in a large category (just another CRM, just another scraper, just another X). I’m often first to market with my tools, which means that the market is virgin: it has a problem but there isn’t really a tool solving that problem.
In this situation, even having one extra competitor can take a large portion of the market. That’s why if you are first, you want to go hard.
The trend in our industry is to share wide and far. Write that blog post, share that MRR graph, etc. Alternatively, you can also keep it to yourself and leverage its value. Quite literally as leverage.
I’ve had competitors copy my products and make comparison pages all about me.
I have one competitor right now that used (and still is using) my exact strategies from a year ago.
He also admitted, by the way, that he copied me.
notion image
Of course, he knows he is in the wrong so he is saying I did the same, which is untrue. Again, I was first in the market with my solution. I have so many unique ideas, I don’t need to copy other projects word for word.
My strategies work well, so this competitor is doing well. I think he is at $5k MRR. Of course, being dishonest, he added his own strategies, namely underpricing, fake countdowns, and fake discounts.
Now I’m at 3x, 4x his revenue, and I’m not giving him other instructions to follow.
Since I stopped sharing, my competitors didn’t grow as fast as me, because they lost their source.
That’s why this year I’ll build in private.
Best, Mike
Mike Rubini

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Mike Rubini