Saturday, February 07, 1998 at 6:37:19 AM Pacific

Competition is OK

Postscript: The Bronco people have changed their site to make it clear it is not an effort supported or endorsed by UserLand, and have agreed to change the name of the project. Thanks! Here's the story, from my point of view, unedited from yesterday when their site looked different.

Last week I got several emails asking me to look at a website about a new effort called Bronco.


I went to the site and saw that it was about cloning Frontier with public source code for Linux. It took me about a week to decide how to approach this. I consulted with other people at UserLand, talked with friends, read The Cathedral and the Bazaar, thought, wrote and read.

I worked as quickly as I could to get up to speed on the issues.

I bookmarked their message board and read what they were saying.

We have several issues.

Use of our goodwill

Our first issue is that they call their product Bronco, building on the western theme we've built around our product, Frontier.

On their message board, Kendal Clark, suggests naming their future products "Buster, Wrangler, Shetland, Palomino, Coral, BarT." I see where they're going. He boasts that he has millions of ideas. But aren't all his ideas actually our ideas?

Look around our site, you'll see cactuses and horses, and cow skulls. Launch the program, you'll see the same imagery. We've been building the western theme around our product for seven years.

Along comes a competitor, and they think it's OK to steal it. This is the lowest way to attack, the deepest thing you can steal, it also takes the least effort. It's a cheap unfair shot.

I've had competitors before, PC-Outline, Framework, Lotus Manuscript, Word, PowerPoint, Acta, AppleScript, etc. Only once before did a competitor try to leverage our goodwill. We protested, and they stopped.

Deliberately introducing market confusion is not fair, and we won't tolerate it.

Other confusion

We have other issues with their site.

A new reader could easily be confused. They might believe their site is our site, or that we support what they're doing. I made some suggestions, privately to Mr. Bornstein about how they might clear up this confusion.

It must be clear that this is an effort to compete with Frontier, that it is not endorsed or supported by UserLand Software, in any way. Right now, on their site, that's not clear at all.

Competition is OK

I truly am energized by competition. I see this as totally a competitive effort. Their product aims to do everything our product does. That's how they define it.

Reading what they've posted so far, I think they vastly underestimate the size of the problem they've chosen to solve.

No matter what, we listen to competitors and carefully evaluate what they do. The closer they are to our core business, the more carefully we listen. I respect what they're doing, that means that I'll pay attention.

This is what I see: right now there is no software, just a website and a mailing list.


Yesterday I outlined my offer to work with people who use and develop for Linux.

The offer still stands. I hope the "Bronco" people will read this piece seriously.

Thanks for listening!

Dave Winer

This page was last built on 2/8/98; 3:34:38 PM by Dave Winer. dave@scripting.com