stunned at ms-plurk-ripoff

it’s no secret that i’m a big fan of plurk, despite my recent absence (social media exhaustion set in). i am especially happy because my plurkbuddy alvin woon moved back east to help promote the service, where it became the #1 microblogging service in China (prior to being firewalled).

not just because i want to see the little guy win, but also because it is just appalling that this occured:

Microsoft China stole Plurk’s UI and code and is pretending it’s their own service.

i could see a 2 bit startup doing this, or some non-multinational heavyweight that figured they could get away with it because they pay their lawyers more than the little guy. but this is just bald-faced theft.

i worked at a company many years ago who had their code stolen, and spent many years in the courts shutting down the competitor started by ex-employees who stole the code. from looking at the code involved, it was obvious it was a copy; in many places, error messages contained the same misspellings!

at the time, the ceo swore that he wouldn’t stop until he won back all of the business he lost to “the thieves,” and sued for damages for every cent lost. realizing they had a losing battle, the founders pled no contest, then the purchasing company settled out of court for about us$285mil all told. sadly, many of the customers they lost probably still use the purchasing company’s software instead; i think that company came out on top in the marketplace (for various other reasons). so my employer was vindicated, but didn’t manage to win back all of the business lost.

Plurk doesn’t have the resources to complete the lawsuit, but i hope that they find some other way to shut this down. it’s a different world now, 10-15 years later; maybe social media itself can stop this assault on the innovator. hopefully it will be before they, too, lose their loyal and active client base to a competitor.

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