An open letter to our users about upcoming pricing changes
We're making some changes to our pricing that will likely affect you. In this letter, we explain openly and honestly why we're making the changes, what they are, and what you can expect from us in return.
If you’re familiar with Git and GitHub (version control tools for software developers), you’d know that the Simul product is based on the same principles and aims to bring the same version control and collaboration features that Git offers for software development to Word documents.
However, what you may not know is that when we launched Simul, we based our pricing model on theirs as well.
For a number of reasons that I’ll outline in this letter, this hasn’t worked for Simul. As a result, we’re introducing a change to our pricing structure that will likely affect you.
Why we’re changing our pricing
TLDR: We want to build a company that answers to it's customers, not to investors.
Developing and running software like Simul isn’t cheap. The comparison algorithm alone (the one that compares different versions and shows what changed) is comparing thousands of different versions of documents per month and requires a lot of computing power to run.
Our original plan to recuperate these costs was basically to give the software away for free to individuals, and then charge licence fees to larger corporations who wanted to have lots of users and lots of documents.
This is a great model and one that GitHub has used to great success. But in order to make this model work you need to get tens of thousands of people signing up to the product product just to convert the few thousand paying users that we’d need to make Simul a profitable business.
This is certainly possible (GitHub, Slack and many others have made this model work) but it usually requires the company to raise a lot of venture capital that they can use to spend on acquiring those tens of thousands of signups. GitHub for instance raised $250 million from investors.
As a company we’ve decided we don’t want to do that. Because when you take hundreds of millions of dollars from investors, they require a seat on the board so they can influence the way the company is run. This means we would have someone on our board pushing us to make decisions that are best for their investment, not best for our customers.
Whilst this has worked for some companies, it has also caused a huge number of issues in others. Uber is a good example of this. They’ve taken over $24 billion in funding and their growth-at-all-costs mentality has led to countless internal scandals, the wage theft of tens of millions of dollars from drivers, numerous privacy law breaches & the firing of the CEO.
We want to build a company that makes decisions that are best for its customers, not for its to investors. And we want to create a workplace for our employees where they feel valued, empowered and safe.
The new pricing
Because of this choice to answer to you, our users, rather than investors, we can no longer support such a generous 10 document limit on the free plan.
As a result, we’ve introduced some new pricing:
USD per month
USD per month
USD per month
USD per month
As you can see, we’ll still offer a free plan to allow people to try out Simul with 1 document, but if you want to use it for more than 1 document, you’ll need to choose a paid plan.
If you’re an individual, you can get Simul for just $15 per month. If you want to have your team use Simul to collaborate on Word documents then you can choose our Team or Squad plan.
To learn more about how the plans work and how to choose the right option for you, you can see this article.
How this will affect you
If you’re currently on the old free plan which gave you 10 free documents, then this change will affect you.
Your document limit (on the free plan) will be reduced from 10 documents down to 1 document.
If you already have more than 1 document in your account, we don’t want to stop you working on those. You will still be able to edit and collaborate on your existing documents without upgrading to a paid plan.
It’s only when you try to upload and collaborate on a new document that you’ll be asked to upgrade in order to proceed.
What you'll get in return
TLDR: New features like a redesigned interface, collaborating outside Simul, updated user roles and some awesome template creation & management features.
We realise that for a number of you, this change will mean you’ll need to start paying for something you previously got for free, and that’s never fun.
So we wanted to take this opportunity to outline some of the new features and functionality our paying customers can expect to see and utilize over the coming months.
Over the past 6 months we’ve interviewed over 50 Simul customers and one of the most common things we heard was ‘Simul is great, but it’s a bit difficult to wrap your head around at first’ or ‘I love Simul, but it’s been hard getting other people in my company to understand and use it’.
As a result, we’re creating a redesigned user interface with a focus on making Simul easier to understand and use.
We’re giving it a more modern look, simplifying the navigation, making highly used features more prominent and de-emphasising others.
Here’s an early sneak peek at the new Document page:
As you can see, the new interface highlights important features such as the Actions menu which has been pulled out of a dropdown and displayed much more prominently.
Collaborating outside Simul
Another piece of feedback we heard often was that ‘Simul works great when all collaborators are using it, but there are times when I need to collaborate on a document with someone I can’t invite to Simul’.
Simul has always had the ability to download versions, email them to 3rd parties and import the changes back in as a new version. But we want to make it easier to collaborate with people outside Simul.
Instead of downloading and emailing, you’ll soon be able to grab a link and send it to your external collaborators. When they click it, they’ll get directed to a page where they can preview the document & download it to their computer to make edits. Once they’re done, they can upload it via the same link and the new version will automatically be pulled into Simul as a branch, ready for you to merge back in.
Not only is this easier than downloading versions, emailing them around and importing the changes, there’s some extra features we’ll be adding which we think you’ll like:
- Notifications - When you send a document via email, you have no idea whether the recipient received the email or opened the attachment. When sharing through Simul however, you’ll get notified when the document is opened & downloaded so you know exactly when the external party has seen it.
- Access Logs - If you send a document via email, you have no idea who accesses it, who they forward it on to, etc. When sharing through Simul, you'll be able to see a timeline of who accessed your document, when they accessed it and where.
- Password Protection - Sending documents via email is highly insecure. Sending them through Simul however will give you a number of security options such as password protection, which will allow you to set a password that must be entered before accessing the document.
Beyond these customer conversations, we’ve also been thinking a lot about the fundamentals of document collaboration. Things such as what the stages of creating a document are, the different people, their roles, how this might change over time, etc.
This led to a few other product ideas we’ll be rolling out in 2020:
Updated User Roles
When thinking about the roles of different people in creating a document, we realised we didn’t cater well to one particular person: The Suggester. The suggester is someone you want to be able to ‘suggest’ changes, but you don’t necessarily want them to make it back into your document automatically (i.e. You want to approve them first).
- You’re a lawyer writing a legal contract and you want to get your colleague, who specialises in a different aspect of law than you, to review it and give their perspective. However, you need to stay on top of every word in the contract so you want to approve their changes before they make it back in to make sure you agree and are aware of them.
- You’re a medical researcher writing a paper and want to get your Principal Investigator to review it before submission. You want them to be able to edit the document freely, but you want to review and approve their suggestions before their changes make it back into your paper.
To better facilitate this style of collaboration, we’ll be rolling out a ‘Suggester’ user role (name not finalised) in the product that will allow you to better control whether people’s changes make it back into your document or not.
When we thought about the authoring stage of the document creation process, we realised one key thing: The majority of documents start from a template or previous document.
If you’re a lawyer writing a legal contract for the sale of a business, you’re not starting from scratch. You’re using a template you’ve gotten from somewhere or using a previous contract and modifying it to suit the requirements of this individual situation.
While there are a few ways you can create and use Templates already, they are workarounds and there’s a lot more we could do to make template creation, updating & management easier. So in 2020, we’ll be rolling out the ability to create Templates within Simul and then reuse them for new documents.
You’ll also be able to version control your templates, so you can keep them up to date with the latest information and see a full history of how they changed and when.
Finally, the documents you create using a template will remain linked to that template forever. So in one spot, you'll be able to see every document that uses that template, and if you update the template you’ll be able to compare the content of the template to the content of documents that use it, and in one click push the changes you made to the template out to the documents that use it.
We realise that for a number of you, this change will mean you’ll need to start paying for something you previously got for free, and we take that seriously because we know we wouldn’t love that either. But our hope is that by writing this open letter to you, our users, you’re aware of why this needs to happen, and more importantly, the awesome new features that are coming your way if you continue to use Simul.
If you have any questions, please feel free to send us an email on [email protected] We'll read and respond to every email.
Ben & Aaron
Co-founders of Simul Docs