Eleven years ago this August, after spending about three months hacking my way through AppKit and Cocoa, I somehow managed to release my first Mac OS X software product – VirtualHostX. I didn’t do any marketing for it. All I did was post its logo and a short description on the home page of my blog. You could buy (via PayPal) a license for all of seven dollars. And, amazingly, someone did buy a license on that very first day. To them, I’m eternally grateful.
My original goal with writing and selling this little Mac app was to earn $3,000 over the course of its lifetime so we could afford to refinish the hardwood floors in the fixer-upper my wife and I had recently purchased.
Boy was I wrong.
Over the next eleven years I kept growing VirtualHostX and its two sibling products (Hostbuddy and Hobo) and slowly tried different prices until I settled on $49. I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that as of this past week, I’ve earned just over $300,000 in total.
Not only did our house get new floors, but the money also paid for a patio, a new fence, a new roof, financed our move home from San Francisco to Nashville, and even allowed me to take a two year sabbatical where I worked only on my own apps.
But times have changed. Sales over the last eighteen months have tanked. So much so, that March’s total sales volume was around $200. (At it’s high point, I was earning roughly $5,0000 per month.) Now, an extra couple hundred bucks a month is nothing to shake a stick at. But add to it the the customer support costs, the infrastructure costs, and the general anxiety and depression I feel trying to maintain a failing business, it’s just not worth it any longer.
So, I’ve decided to retire VirtualHostX, Hostbuddy, and Hobo. Up until this point, my longest running project had been the six years I spent running a Stephen King website before selling it to his publishing company. VirtualHostX has been around for nearly double that amount of time. It’s my baby – and I’m sad to see it go.
But the time is right. The web has moved on and so have I. I already feel a heavy weight lifted off my shoulders just knowing I can focus on fresh ideas and not always worry about tech support and bug fixes for my legacy apps.
While this is a farewell to my apps, it is not a farewell for me. I plan to continue building apps for both macOS and iOS – I even have a few ideas ready to go. And so to my 30,000 customers over these past eleven years, thank-you so much for supporting me and my little business. I had a blast. And I hope you got something out of it, too.