Ask Dgraph Founder Anything

About what VCs are we all actually talking about, what kind of VC was the one that did the last funding?

If we are talking about the kind of VCs who also ‘invest’ big cash into companies like Uber and WeWork, they MUST also invest big money into dgraph because dgraph is a much more better and more legit product, than Uber or WeWork. i dont understand why they dont want to.
The only thing that dgraph lacks in my opinion, besides of the docs who could be better and more noob-dev friendly, is the presentation/marketing

Please look at this video manish https://youtu.be/Hv6EMd8dlQk

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VCs seeks popularity and opportunity for capital gain. Kind of usual and it is their money they are putting in risk. Even in the case of UBER which is deficitary for years, they do invest on it cuz it is popular. The factual value of a product isn’t how good it is. Is how popular it gets.

Just like the most famous(my personal opinion) Graph DB out there. It is famous cuz they put a lot of money and effort in the popularity of the product. Not the quality.

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This is so good. In fact, that’s my biggest learning – The best product doesn’t win. Best marketing does.

Great marketing is a skill that’s really hard to find. Much harder than finding great engineers.

True.

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First of all thanks for taking the time to do this AMA. I really think you and your team upped your game again in terms of communication and transparency.
Of course there are still many more questions and we now have a more clear understanding why transparency and communicated progress was lacking. You are currently at a problematic spot and trying to find a way to transition.

I would like to ask some questions in terms of Open Source.
How come you switched from Github Issues to Discuss? I think it’s currently very hard to track which issues and bugs are open within Discuss.
Do you plan on using any alternative tracking software?
Was your plan always to keep development inside the company and just put the code out there?
I may not be as professional as you are, but I’m sure there are small things that could be contributed by the community.

Overall I’m very happy with DGraph and I think you are very close to a product that could explode with the right marketing.

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The idea was to consolidate the GitHub issues from the dozens of repositories over to one place – Discourse. But, I also acknowledge that many people have complained about that for a while.

No. That was never the idea. But, given we were VC backed, we had the money to hire engineers. The PRs from the engineers kept us plenty busy. Contributions from community took a back step. This isn’t ideal, but also isn’t unusual for a VC backed open source project.

I think community plays a HUGE role in any project. And we’d be supportive of contributions.

Here’s a poll.

  • Should we turn on GitHub issues for Dgraph?
  • Yes
  • No
  • Maybe
0 voters
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this!!! +1
this also makes my heart cry - there are so many talented engineers out there with brilliant ideas, which will never get executed…

What is Dgraph lacking? - #8 by Juri I wrote here many things, I break them down now:

here’s a quick to-do what can be done imo:

  • website rebranding (just taking an example from firebase and supabase. I’d go with the supabase design-approach. dont waste much time on thinking about an own webdesign, just inspire yourself from competitiors nobody cares. BTW dont use wordpress. wordpress is cool and nice for blogs and websites, but just create the website with react please. that will be a little more work, but you can finetune everything, it will look 999999x more professional, and people will see that it is custom build (dunno why but people dont trust tech solutions that say they are high tech and awesome but didnt took some extra hours for building the website with react. using wordpress looks unprofessional (for a project I and my buddy used wordpress too and people on reddit hated us for using wordpress)))
  • realising it does not matter if dgraph is now a spanner killer, or a firebase killer, or something different… different people want to hear different things, so it’s ok and not unprofessional to just say
    “Hey dgraph is a super scalable backend as a service, with dgraph you don’t need Firestore neo4j Cloud Spanner Elasticsearch or Supabase anymore, we have everything you want to build, run, and scale successful apps in 2022 with every feature. What are you waiting for, dig now into our docs or our guid or our video tutorial and GO!” it’s ok to brag and actually mention other products, many do that, and tbh I even love that. I love it when a company makes an own comparisson of their product against another one Algolia vs Elasticsearch vs Meilisearch vs Typesense Comparison
  • Docs, please, we need better docs for noobs, the only reason I am here is because you answered my specific questions on reddit + i spend much time understanding and asking questions. Many people dont want to get active and ask questions around, they want to look into the docs or google, and find the questions with their answers. They want tutorials on youtube. Noob developers of today are the top engineers tomorrow. One approach is to split up the docs into 2 docs, into the docs how they are now (not much described/explained, but very good for quickly look up something), and docs who actually teach dgraph in depth, you can make them ridiculous long with many explanations examples and so on, people will just read them 1x and will use for look-ups the short docs.
    So you basically just leave the docs as they are, and create second docs where you write big romans with mannnnny examples so that even donkey kongs like me will understand everything without having any gaps.
  • contacting fireship, freecodecamp, netninja (all these awesome dudes that publish tutorials for free), and ask them if they want to make tutorial dgraph videos, and taht they can get your discord/skype/whatsapp/whateveryouuse and they can contact you with questions and you will answer them immediately (this makes it much easier creating quickly a video and understanding dgraph quickly with asking annoying questions like I did LOL but they won’t wait until someone on discuss replies, they want answers immediately to have the video done ASAP without wasting too much time)
  • making 1:1 the same video course just with dgraph https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLl-K7zZEsYLluG5MCVEzXAQ7ACZBCuZgZ

this are really simple quick things you can get done within december! sum up:

  • completely new website built with react/gatsby/nextjs (without bugs, I contacted you guys via email cuz of a basic 404 bug and it was never fixed afaik (some weeks ago wasnt fixed yet))
  • starting to brag that dgraph is the backend/database with the biggest D in the room and make comparisons to every other backend/database product. just compare dgraph to mysql supabase firestore, nobody cares that you can’t fr compare these things. aggressive brazen bold marketing. if you tell people dgraph is the backend/db with the biggest D that can do everything better than anyone else, they are likely to give it a shot
  • extra docs for noobs plsssss
  • contact youtubers and give them your number/discord/facebook/whateveryouuse for immediately support (if you as the CEO give them a direct way to contact you immediately (email is not a direct way), they will appreciate it and know that you respect their precious time and they’ll therefore spend even more passion into presenting dgraph to the world since they know dgraph is not a project for you bot a passion, for which you are willing to give up private space/time. I suggest that you make with each youtuber an own whatsapp or discord group with the youtuber and you and all the other devs like dmail and daniel, so that if he has a question someone immediately replies to him. you can also add me and if the other guys Anthony gamble Koder want, also to the group)
  • making an own youtube video course. it’s really simple. you create a word doc, you write the content of each video + script, you speak the script into your mic, and then you create the video content. then you mix up everything together in premiere pro. I can give you via zoom/teamviewer assistant into cutting (some years ago I made videos, here’s one of it Redirecting... ) I can help you to make the videos feel more professional and easy to understand since I am a noob and have the view of a noob and can give you the feedback of a noob

that’s it. these are easy measures you can start today. this can polish dgraph extremely up imo



Reddit - Dive into anything

took me now an hour to write this (._.) gud night

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I don’t believe that is 100% accurate. It’s true that great products with bad marketing don’t get traction, it’s also true that bad products with great marketing do get traction, however, the ultimate winners are always those who have both great product and great marketing. Dgraph is already a great product, it’s marketing/messaging just isn’t right—everyone says this. Fix the marketing and you’ll get the traction.

Apple users are persuaded to purchase Apple products with the excellent marketing, but they choose not to switch away to competing products because they are happy with the actual product—longterm customer satisfaction can only be achieved with great product.*

I can come with endless examples of this. I think where the confusion is when people think about this is that they measure product quality in terms of features, but ultimately the reason why people continue to use products is because the product solves a painful problem. Successful companies understand exactly what the pain is that customers are experiencing, build great products that remove that pain and market the product by educating customers about what the pain is and how their product fixes it.

Examples of bad products with great marketing:

  • Any successful ponzi schema
  • Most cryptocurrencies whose prices have gone up without any actual product being shipped (majority of them are vaporware that generate a lot of profit for early investors)
  • Theranos’ Edison device
  • The first iPhone (It destroyed Blackberry’s entire business almost overnight, yet the iPhone’s keyboard didn’t work properly, crashed a lot, had problems making calls and people felt like they’d been ripped off)

Examples of great products with terrible marketing:

  • Zune (arguably better than iPod, although most people wouldn’t believe it because it was marketed terribly)
  • Everything that Nikola Tesla created
  • The minidisk

Examples of great products with great marketing:

  • Porsche 911s (marketed as prestige, they actually live up to their promise with their commitment to best in class engineering. Porsche has passionate customer base not just due to the prestige, but because they are widely considered to be enjoyable to drive. There are many other car brands who market their cars as prestige, but don’t have long lasting popularity because the cars are enjoyable to own)
  • Dropbox (they built one of the first and most successful viral marketing campaigns, and people kept using the product because it was actually good and solved a big problem)

In the case of Dgraph:

Customer: Developer building a business, or working for a business
Customer pain: Stressed and bogged down by backend scaling issues, frustrated because they can’t iterate fast enough
Solution: A tool that delivers backend scalability with 100x less effort
Marketing: Educate customers about what this frustration is that they are experiencing, how it is preventing them from being successful. Educate customers on how Dgraph as a product removes this pain and enables them to experience success.

I think the real mismatch is what product creators consider great and what customers think is great. Product creators (designers, developers) recognise quality of implementation, but that’s not directly relevant to customers pay attention to, they quantify a product as being good when it solves a problem. Dgraph is a great product to me not because I’ve pored through the source-code, (although I do have great appreciation for the elegance of the implementation, that’s just not the reason I’m a customer) but because it perfectly solves multiple frustrating problems.

There are all kinds of ways to measure the ‘quality’ of a product, but the product’s ability to remove customer pain is the only metric that really means anything in the context of business.


*A note about Apple, because a lot of people seem to think Apple is an example of bad products with great marketing… the fact that Apple has millions of happy customers is evidence that they make great products in the eyes of their target customers. Saying Apple makes bad products because you don’t like them is like saying that makeup is a bad product because you don’t wear makeup.

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Thanks @CosmicPangolin1 for your detailed thoughts. I agree that there’s a lot of money floating around and it seems strange that we aren’t able to reach out and grab it. But, there’re more factors at play in a fundraise than the excellence of the product or clarity of the vision. In fact, none of those matter (i’ll elaborate on that in a later post).

@BenW This is why products with best marketing win – they get traction, get to raise funds and live another day. And with enough funding, with a decent team, you can fix up the product over time. With enough runway, bad products with great marketing transform into decent products with great marketing. And over time, they just become good products with great marketing.

Meanwhile, great products with bad marketing die, without getting the chance to fix up their marketing (there are caveats to this, but that’s another topic).

Moreover, whether a product is great or not is subjective. Whether a product has traction is very objective. There’s a separate post I’ll write later about why VCs invest and why some companies get a lot and some don’t. But, rest assured, product is not a factor in these decisions.

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I have read all those reviews. There is a lot of crap in there that is not important. What is important is it seems you guys are in a good place, potentially in the black. You have a board to report to, and for the moment can make some smart daily decisions for the company without too much push back from the VCs and board until you get some more money, whether it be a bridge loan, a complete buy out, or the same VCs educate themselves on what Dgraph really is. You can’t really talk about that, nor can you share the P&Ls with anyone, which is expected. That is all fine and dandy, but also means growth is limited, and focus is important.

Others have spoken about marketing and getting more money, which you know is something to be strived for.

What is important, is getting back the trust of your users. One person paying $40 a month is not going to change anything for the company. However, one person reading 10 different users’ posts about the frustrations of Dgraph, may could lose hundreds of thousands a year for Dgraph. That person would recommend Dgraph for other projects, and the cycle continues. One out of say 20 $40 a month user, upgrades to enterprise, making Dgraph money, and 20 $40 a month projects (which could be one user), could be equal to 1 or 2 enterprise users. Every user counts. We know this, but it needs to be said.

I also read that it seems you have been disorganized in choosing when and which features to implement. This is great for innovation, bad for focused progress. While I can’t speak for the team issues, I can confirm this is the second biggest issue for your users. We want discuss for problem solving, but you NEED github to not only track issues, but to track features. Obviously, everyone agrees.

So, again, focus and gaining back user trust…

I think by now you know where you want Dgraph to go. This thread as been extremely important in that. Write out your plan for the next 6 months. Stop ignoring posts from your users, and start building trust back. I have asked 3 times when v21.12 will be on the cloud since you created this post, and I have been ignored. I have dozens of unanswered posts (not even related to feature requests), and I have had at least 3 broken promises from marketers, managers, and programmers. I think it is hard for me, Anthony, and others to ignore the temptation to write about frustrations. We want Dgraph to succeed, we don’t want a trace of frustration in the forums, but we also want to be real with everyone, especially so management can DO SOMETHING about it, instead of creating more traces of problems.

Bringing the critique sandwich back around, I believe in this product. Despite 2021 (Dgraph’s 2020), 2022 should be a good year. It truly does seem Manish wants to head in a good direction, due to the layoffs the company is very still-alive, and while the future seems slow, it seems like there will be a future. However, Manish, you need to always keep your users happy going forward, or there will be easily preventable problems. This is what you need to do IMHO:

  • More communication (on the right path so far)
  • Acknowledge questions, even if you don’t know the answers yet or can’t answer yet (my personal pet peeve)
  • Github for issues AND features (I think you have your answer)
  • Roadmap (even if it is slow slow slow slow, and it changes 10x a month)

That’s basically it. We need to know things are moving forward, despite the ups-and-downs with internal problems.

That is how you can lead this company going forward, and gain more money and followers.

J

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Thank you for saying that.

We don’t know. And we’re not in a position to make a plan for the future.

Pre-June I wouldn’t say that – we had 3 teams (cloud, GraphQL and core), a solid TPM who was ensuring delivery of features and so on. We built a lot during the first two quarters (Multi-tenancy, CDC, Audit Logs, Kafka, launching MT in cloud, Sroar, etc.), including a complete overhaul of the cloud. But, post June, I know you guys have been vocal about what you want – we just didn’t have the resources to do much. Out of a team of 50, we had about 15 remaining (nicknamed Zion internally) – with the focus on making the business profitable and raising funds. And dealing with the company politics, which is a full time job in itself.

Anyways, from a users’ perspective – our velocity of feature development slowed down. And that’s visible, I get that. But, not because we don’t care about the users. That’s just because we have been trying hard to keep the boat afloat – and get the Zion release out.

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Thank you! This answer is ok, just to have an answer even if it is we don’t know yet.

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Thanks, @amaster507 . Sometimes saying we don’t know is the hardest answer to give. Particularly, when people expect you to know.

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I completely understand. I don’t agree with the ones who say never say you “don’t know”. Honesty > No Communication

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Thank you for responding.

As I have said many times, the lack of communication has been the number one problem, not the lack of features.

I would think getting it on the Cloud would be the number one thing the board would want.

If you have the power to get issues (and hopefully features) put on Github, I would think you could let them know you need a roadmap too. That pretty much would solve MOST of my issues, and many others. Again, if that Roadmap has one item on it, that is fine too.

I think I would prefer “I am not sure on that yet, but we are working on defining at date,” to no response to a question on an AMA thread. Granted, that does not tell me anything, except that you care about your users’ questions. I am not trying to be a crass, and I don’t expect you guys to respond to everything. However, lately, my questions are being read, and ignored in general. Just take a note on that, as I am 100% sure I am not the only one.

I seriously do want the best for DGraph. I think the board (whoever the powers that be are— including yourself) need to come up with a plan going forward (even if it extremely slow). I don’t know that DGraph can go forward if your users are expected to wait until another loan comes around to get an update, plan, or roadmap.

Then let us know what that is. I think anything is acceptable to us, but no plan is not an acceptable option at all. It is the same premise from not getting a response.

J

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I did a talk at CodeMash in Jan 2020 on DGraph. Then I thought it was a unique approach to horizontally scaling graph databases and I still do now. On a client project we’re actively building out a Dgraph implementation. It’s going pretty well. I hope to hear some optimistic news here soon.

–edit–
To follow-up on this, we are pretty concerned about the viability of future updates of dgraph, and moreover, concerned if a company will exist in a year or even 6 months. From reading above, it looks like the company underwent a significant staff reduction from 50 to 15 and are now internally struggling with identity and goals moving forward, while trying to balance the work 50 people were performing. This chain in it entirety reads opposite many positive articles we read leading up to choosing dgraph. We are left at odds now - keep using a product that has an open post discussing turmoil or head to another product. I understand this is an AMA thread, so I ask if you could clarify enough of the company direction/intent for a team to continue using the product.

Thanks,
Ryan

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In addition to what @rahst12 said, my team is in the same boat. We’re just starting out with a mobile app and quickly came to the conclusion that firebase does not fullfil our needs. We needed a combination of three things:

  1. Very fast graph traversal queries to build social network feeds, recommendations, etc.
  2. Full-text search capabilities
  3. Fast time-to-market and extremely low costs

We settled for dgraph a couple of months ago because we deemed the $40/mo acceptable. We were slightly disappointed that dgraph does not support TinkerPop/Gremlin protocols, but given the flexibility of DQL we still convinced ourselves it was the right move. Unfortunately, we did get tangled up in the mess between GraphQL and DQL. We also got tired of waiting for stable field-level auth and therefore built our own authentication middleware using cloud functions. We were also slightly disappointed with the low response time on the forums and the frozen pull requests. But we still stuck through. Why? Because we (like many dgraph users), believe that dgraph is solving a real problem. And we were fine battling through any teething problems in the beginning as long as dgraph can thrive in the long term.

In other words: we are early adopters. Seeing through the problems and being as supportive as we can.

I’m sorry to say that this thread is the nail in the coffin for us. If we can’t trust that dgraph will be around 5 years from now, we simply don’t feel like the extra platform-dependent effort is worth it. And because every dollar counts for us (we are bootstrapping the project), I cancelled my subscription yesterday until we have more clarity. Some of the engineers are already looking into alternatives.

We do sympathize with your struggles. Getting funding can be extremely challenging. We therefore hope you will still be able to figure something out. One of the reasons we were so hopeful for dgraph was your marketing talents. It’s so much better compared to e.g. OrientDB (who are going through some internal problems as well). So please use those talents. Spend more time on marketing and keeping the community happy. The Zion update will keep us happy for a while. Now go make sure dgraph survives!

As to my AMA question: can you give more clarity on the future and survival of dgraph? What are your next steps? What are your plans to get more funding?

Thank you and stay strong :rocket:

And remember: nothing worth having comes easy!

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I am so sorry to see this post, and I thought I should share something as the noob and donkey kong in the room –which I totally relate to in @Juri’s post. When I first started using Dgraph, I definitely felt that there was a barrier to entry. Setting up Dgraph, there were many options to do the same things, and the information on Dgraph is extensive, but difficult to sift through. I would actually not mind being ELI5’ed to, given really pared down information, and a guide on common troubleshooting for setup etc. I also agree that the beginner portions can be further segregated to prevent the information overload. If you are working on documentation, I am pretty sure that you will never over-estimate the attention span or resilience of a noob like me :joy: That said, one of the best things that have kept me going (other than the fact that Dgraph is cool) is when my questions are always quickly and completely resolved on Dgraph discuss, which I really appreciate. For all the support I’ve received, I really hope you are able to turn the current situation around :sunflower:

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exactly my opinion!!

we can keep the docs as they are - but create second docs for beginners with many ELI5 explanations and so on

And I think that even senior devs feel muuuuch more comfortable starting with a noob documentation, than with that pro docs where you don’t understand anything and have to spend big time to be able to comprehend everything. even senior devs who are building startups are using firebase/supabase to buildship quickly, because AWS UX sucks and GCP is so-so

new tech lives by noobs like us - we have much more time to spent in our lives because we are young - we spread word about dgraph via reddit and so on - as I linked the cloudflare CEOs stackoverflow response in my original post - the best marketing is a great UX so that even an HTML “programmer” who just started yesterday to code, is comfortable with the docs and is able to grasp what’s going on. these people are the top engineers tomorrow, and they are the ones who convince their company to use dgraph!!! this is the whole point of cloudflare marketing, most of their enterprise customers became customers because their developers said “Yo lets use cloudflare I am comfortable with that, i dont wanna use anything else” Top engineers today don’t want to try out new things, they stick with old things, because everyday 999999 new tech is release. tech is like fast fashion, many come and many go. only the ones with the best UX survive. Lookt at supabase, their product ain’t special; and even though they get one funding after another and everyday new customers.

Who needs more-expensive managed postgreSQL if you could use GCP managed SQL with postgreSQL and save money?? People who dont wanna waste time or/and are lazy, and want to ship build quickly without setting much stuff up!! dgraph currently feels like AWS: amazing tech but poor docs. We need a mix of AWS and supabase/firebase. Awesome tech like AWS, but awesome beginner friendly UX like firebase/supabase!! this is the way

what we really need are

  • second docs for noobs
  • short quick nice YT tutorials
  • new website

this awesome straightforward easy to understand explanations is what we need, this is what has to be on the website:
image

pls respond to my posts manish Ask Dgraph Founder Anything - #39 by Juri and What is Dgraph lacking? - #8 by Juri

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Yes. I am very concerned after hearing about this for the first time.

All of the information outside of this thread has been very positive dgraph developments.

We are also nearing release for our dgraph based service, which we are planning on running for many years. We were also hoping to get an enterprise contract post release.

I really hope there is some good news because I love dgraph, and I really don’t want to have to divest our implementation of it.

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Hello @mrjn,

I’m so sad to hear about dgraph issues.

I’ve been around dgraph since 4 years, learning its functioning, reporting bug, asking for features, and I’ve always loved your technology, even if it’s sometimes difficult to known how to do specific things (the doc is ok but could be better, as many say).

I only use DQL, no cloud, no graphql, and my main recurring concern is bugs. Dgraph iterations improved on that, up to v21.03 which works great for my usage (game on connected words).
I tried 21.12, but I have many weird bugs (I recently did 2 unanswered posts here) that were not here on previous version.

So I only ask for a more stable release.
I really hope you and your team will find solutions to your problems.
I don’t know how to help except by reporting bugs.
I’m with you.

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