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December 14, 2012

We here at Sephone have worked with all sizes of companies. Some as clients, some as vendors. All the way from one man shops to the top IT companies publicly traded. We have had both good and bad experiences. We are going to relate some of our experiences with different size companies to answer the question, is bigger better when picking a technology partner.

Bigger is better

Everybody knows about Google Analytics, but what many don’t know is about it’s history. Urchin was a company that specialized in web traffic software. The service was good compared to the alternatives at the time. It scaled well, the price was fair, and it had options to do data collection in addition to log file processing.

In 2005, Google bought Urchin, and changes started happening. Not to give a big history lesson, but this was the start of what today is Google Analytics.

Since Google took over Urchin, the price dropped, in fact, it’s mostly free now. Google has introduced a slew of new features, and it’s hosted on Google infrastructure. Uptime is much better, and in general faster. Urchin started as a small company, but grew steadily, and employed about 40 at the time of the Google takeover.  Google now employees around 50,000, but at the time of the Urchin take over, far less, but still several thousand.

In this example, the bigger company is better. Urchin was never a bad product or service, but Google really made much better.

Smaller is better

We have used numerous companies for hosting servers and networks over the years. The companies in this example will need to remain nameless. Several years ago, we used a company that specialized in hosting for Software as a Service (SaaS) and ruby on rails. The company was small, young and had a lot of fun. The support staff was top notch, because they used the service themselves to make their sites. They also hosted their own stuff, so they didn’t over load their servers.

The company was bought out by a company over 100 times bigger. A very well know company in the server industry. The support staff was not nearly as good. It was a much more generic support, from people without intimate knowledge of their platform. Because it was a publicly traded company, and stock holders needed to be happy, servers and networks were much fuller than at the former company.

In this example, the little guy wins.


The conclusion is that it really does not matter, we have good and bad experiences with some of the biggest companies in IT. Additional we have good and bad experiences with shops that are only a few people. When picking companies to partner with, look at portfolios and talk with people to get references.

Alan has been creating websites since CompuServe was huge. Today he still is developing websites using technologies such as CSS3, HTML5, jQuery and CakePHP.

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