Dear Zootool users,
you probably all noticed that nothing happened with Zootool for a very long time. No updates, no bug fixes, no support. I definitely owe you an explanation.
I started working on Zootool in October 2007. I designed and developed the very first version for my Bachelor thesis in communication design and it turned out so well, that I got convinced by my Professor – Habu – and a couple other friends to launch it. Habu and I founded a company and we released the first version of Zootool in March 2008.
Many things happened in the meantime. The project grew and became more and more a professional service. Until today more than 150.000 users signed up, which is a big achievement for a former student project.
With the help of Habu, Nicolas and Arnaud Zootool got to where it is now and yet most of the times the main burden of running and developing Zootool lay upon my shoulders.
With pro accounts, the iPhone app and ads, Zootool always made enough money to pay for servers. Although there was never enough money to get paid for all the work we spent on it. That was ok for the longest time.
But in the last two years I personally made some very unhealthy experiences with running Zootool. The pressure and responsibility of a “mostly-one-man-project” of such a size got me to a very critical point with lots of sleepless nights and the risk of burning out.
At some point last year I wasn’t able to react on support requests, feature suggestions or anything else anymore. I had to declare inbox bankruptcy for Zootool and keep it going without my attention for some time in order to not ruin my health.
I still made some promises that I will be working on a new version and that everything will be fine soon. A couple months later there’s an almost finished new version, but no time for the last steps. There are more and more critical voices forcing me to react and do something. For the longest time I thought I could keep Zootool running in its current state, but it’s no longer fair.
Massive spam attacks have brought down the screenshot generation tool. It’s still working fine but most of the time it’s just generating screenshots for spam sites. We have millions of those entries and no chance to filter them out.
Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook connections no longer work. They all changed their APIs in the meantime, which leaves those connections broken. And there are some other things that need to be fixed.
In the meantime those spam attacks led to massive new server load and huge amounts of data lying on Amazon S3 – just for spam. It costs hundreds of additional dollars each month and the former state of Zootool paying for itself is no longer working. Fortunately my second project Kirby is making enough money to pay the missing amount each month, but this is not a very good situation for me personally since I still need to do lots of additional client work do pay my own bills.
So where’s this all going? I met with Habu the other day and we were discussing the future of Zootool. It was pretty tough for us both. We love Zootool. I love Zootool. It’s my baby for so long. I’ve seen so many competitors and other services going down after a couple of months and I’m proud that we are still here after almost 6 years. Even under those heavy conditions. We are both not ready to admit defeat just yet. We both have the same vision of what Zootool will be in the future. It will be different from what it is now. We think that the centralized, cloud-based service, which Zootool is at the moment has no future. We think of a more decentralized alternative which gives you more control over your data and accounts.
As I said, there are a couple last steps missing to launch this new version, but to be honest I can’t make any promises anymore. I made too many and wasn’t able to keep up to them too many times.
For now, we decided to lock down sign ups for our pro accounts and also for free accounts. We can’t let in any more spam users and we also can’t offer paid pro accounts anymore with the bad shape they are currently in. It just wouldn’t be fair.
We offer full refunds for all pro users who signed up within the last three months and of course we will keep pro accounts running for all those, who already paid for them and want to keep them.
We will keep Zootool alive as long as we can and with the hope in finding the time to come up with the new version. But as I said there won’t be an ETA or any further promises. We just hope that you will forgive us/me for the bad service over the last months and understand the current situation.
P.S. Please contact us at email@example.com if you want us to issue a refund for your pro account.