Conversations about life & privacy in the digital age

It is a Monday…

Greetings SpiderOak Users,

This morning we excitedly sent out an email to you all with news of our latest version – SpiderOak 5.0. Within 5.0 are many new and exciting features including Hive and Windows OS integration (Mac & Linux coming soon) in addition to a completely revamped mobile effort with our 2.0 iOS app currently in the app store (2.0 Android shipping on the 16th of May).

In our efforts to alert you of these wonderful changes, we have received comments that the email was addressed to ‘First Name’ as opposed to the actual name as it appears in our database. Now – while this may appear as a mistake, it is actually us taking privacy one step further and converting all of your ‘first names’ to read ‘First Name’. As we constantly strive to push ‘Zero-Knowledge’ further and further, this is just another step in that process.

NOTE: Of course we are making light of a mistake we made in our email campaign this morning whereby we did not properly include the mail merge in the final deployment. This is my mistake and I do sincerely apologize for any problems this may have caused. Rest assured, the emails are indeed from us at SpiderOak and you can always feel free to download 5.0 from our website here: download.

Given this topic, we would also like to take a moment to mention the domain name present in our email communications to users – spideroakcommunique.com. We have designated that some of our email correspondence come from this domain so please do not be alarmed or worried about an email coming from spideroakcommunique.com as representing a spam or phishing message. That said, we are currently taking steps to push all communications from spideroak.com to limit confusion moving forward.

Please don’t hesitate to send further thoughts and/or questions anytime and we thank you in advance for both your understanding and continued patronage with SpiderOak.

Have a wonderful week ahead.

Sending very best wishes,

Ethan Oberman
SpiderOak, Inc

The Fine Print of Privacy

Ever wonder what happens to your data when you accept a “terms of service” agreement? Or, do you always comb through the fine print?

This second explainer, recently promoted by Cory Doctorow on Boing Boing, breaks down the details of a privacy policy and answers the following questions:

  1. What’s the point of a privacy policy?
  2. Are companies required to have one?
  3. How do privacy policies vary between companies?
  4. And how might they change in the future?
Want to help spread the message of privacy? Share this explainer and get people talking about The Fine Print of Privacy.

No Excuses – Back up Your Data!

This week, we want to make sure you all know how important it is to keep your data backed up. As I mentioned on our World Backup Day post, it’s not only making backups that is important; It’s making sure that your backups actually work.

We generate an enormous amount of data in our personal and professional lives. From photos to videos, financial records to emails, documents to music – it would be devastating to lose this data. Sadly, it does happen. But you can prevent it.

Data backup is EASY to do and can save you a great amount of time as well as ensure that your data is secure in the case of disaster. However, we’ve heard a lot of excuses. It is time to put those excuses aside and back up your data TODAY.

Excuses, Excuses

“My computer won’t crash!” Of course you’ve had your computer for a while and haven’t had problems so far. Why worry about it now? This “it won’t happen to me” approach will haunt you later. Data backup is about protecting your data’s future. Look at it like an insurance policy.

“I’ve thought about it but just haven’t gotten around to doing it…” We are all busy. Work, family, friends… Why take time out of your day to maintain data backups? We can empathize with you on how daunting it may seem. However, today’s backup software manufacturers make it easy. Only a few steps are involved in most online backup solutions. With SpiderOak, you merely set it and forget it.

“I don’t know how to backup data.” Fear not. A lot of you understand how important it is, but you are just not sure where to start. You have a few options. Removable media (CDs and zip drives) were once a go-to option. This option just narrows the field a little. External hard drives would be an excellent start. Simply copy folders to your external hard drive and that is your first backup! We’d also recommend a cloud option. There are several that allow ease and flexibility.

Lack of knowledge or denial about the fragility of data storage media is the most common reason, which isn’t an excuse at all. Most people just don’t think about it. That is why we are here!

Do you have any stories to share, or excuses you have heard? We’d love to hear them! Here is a story we’d like to share with you from one of our users:

Also, please be sure to spread the word as we gear up towards World Backup Day, March 31st. Follow us on Twitter or Facebook or our blog for more news and deals.

Sign up TODAY and get 5 GBs for FREE

Note: The code “WorldBackupDay” will replace your current amount with 5GBs if you are an existing member.

Dump the Marketing Don’t

On Monday morning this week, we started receiving emails from our PR team at South By South West (SXSW) with the following photo.

Curious if we knew anything about it, we could only respond to them with raised eyebrows and a shrug of ‘No idea!’ As we wondered who was behind this campaign, there was a certain sense of satisfaction and relief that it had nothing to do with us.

While in the world of politics negative advertising campaigns are shown to be effective when used sparingly, we at SpiderOak have not seen the value in positioning our competitors’ offerings as ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’.

As our market gets more and more crowded, we aim to educate people about the differences in our services and how it may be more appealing and beneficial to a certain segment. Our marketing efforts revolve around trying to best communicate what we do so those who need us can best find us. Seems like a better approach than telling everyone how bad the other is.

What do you think? Do our marketing efforts resonate with you? Have you ever chosen a service or product due to negative messaging? Have you seen a campaign – like the one referred to in this post – work? Curious to know your thoughts.

Affiliate Spotlight: CloudBackupReviews.com

This week we’ve re-launched our Affiliate Program and invite you to consider the possibilities and benefits. If you missed info on commission, merchant reputation and product service and relevancy, catch up here.

We have looked at a few of our affiliates who have been gracious enough to share their experience with the program and how it has changed their business. However, we have many more that help sell our industry-leading Zero-Knowledge product.

A few more Affiliate Members

Meet Eric from Cloud Backup Reviews

Backups are essential. With so many hard drives failing each year, the cloud continues to be one of the safest places for your data. Cloud Backup Reviews is a site to help you find the best backup solution that is right for you.

How long have you been an affiliate with SpiderOak?

RS: For about three and a half years now. My first email to the SpiderOak team was in June of 2009.

How has the SpiderOak affiliate program proved to be for you?

RS: It’s been a good program for me, but I’m really excited about the program moving to ShareASale. The network is a bit more standardized than the internal program was, and as an affiliate, I can get more information out of it. SpiderOak makes great backup software – leave the affiliate tracking to the experts at ShareASale :)

What are the benefits and challenges of being an affiliate?

RS: Well, the primary benefit is we get to make money, but affiliates are also some of the first to hear about new features, promotions, and get to try out beta software. Since affiliates like myself, who focus on the cloud backup industry, know this area so well, we’re great for giving feedback on new features.

What makes an affiliate program successful?

RS: An affiliate program is successful when both the merchant (ex: SpiderOak) and the affiliate (ex: me) treat each other honestly and fairly, as partners with a common goal. As soon as one party tries to take advantage of the other, the relationship falls apart.

What trends are you seeing with affiliate programs?

RS: Programs are moving away from up-front CPA (cost per acquisition) commissions, and more towards a percentage of the customer’s value over time. CPA models beg for fraud, as the merchant may pay out $40 on a $5 monthly subscription, so the affiliate will sign up hundreds of users (at $5, then collect $40) and cancel after a month. When affiliates send real, qualified traffic, everyone makes out better when taking into account the true value of the customer.

What are your goals this coming year?

RS: I’ve already made some changes to my Cloud Backup Reviews site, including all my reviews being driven from a central database and a new series which I hand-curate called, “This Week in Cloud Backups.” In it, I choose the most interesting topics from the industry, and publish it weekly.

What is something most people wouldn’t know about being an affiliate?

RS: I’m not at the beach, on my laptop. I’m at home, and it’s cold outside. Affiliate success doesn’t happen overnight, if at all. Anything you need to know about being a successful affiliate is available for free. Don’t keep buying those $37 infoproducts and expect to find a secret to success. The secret is: work hard, keep learning, and don’t give up.

You can be an affiliate too.

We’re excited to grow our Affiliate Program and push it to the next level. Be sure to check outOur Reseller Program and SIGN UP NOW. You can be the next great addition to the SpiderOak Affiliate Program. We look forward to working with you!

Affiliate Spotlight: OnlineBackupDeals.com

This week we’ve re-launched our Affiliate Program and invite you to consider the possibilities and benefits. If you missed info on commission, merchant reputation and product service and relevancy, catch up here.

We are going to take a look at a few of our affiliates who have been gracious enough to share their experience with the program and how it has changed their business.

Meet Lee from Online Backup Deals

Backups are essential. There are a plethora of services that do many of the same things. Online Backup Deals is a site to help you find the best backup solution that is right for you.

How long have you been an affiliate with SpiderOak?

RS: Since your in house program started and then I moved over to the ShareASale program when it became available.

How you are enjoying the affiliate program?

RS: Overall it has been good. The move to ShareASale has been nice since there are more ways for me to create links to specific pages on the SpiderOak website. The additional tracking that is available through ShareASale has been nice as well to see what content has been working well and what has not.

How has the SpiderOak affiliate program proved to be for you?

RS: The SpiderOak program has been a good program to be a part of. It is one of my best programs on ShareASale and the payout is great. There are only a few programs that pay as much as SpiderOak does for paid accounts.

What are the benefits and challenges of being an affiliate?

RS: The benefit is always knowing that you referred people to a service that is good and will help them keep their files safe and secure. Of course making some extra money every month to do that is a nice bonus. Being an affiliate is also beneficial having young kids because I have more time to spend with them and can work on affiliate work when I have time.

Perhaps the biggest challenge I have, being a content affiliate, is coming up with new ways to talk about a service and making it interesting for readers.

What makes an affiliate program successful?

RS: There are a lot of things that make an affiliate program successful but I think it usually comes down to two essential things.

  1. A good product or service.
  2. A good affiliate manager to support the affiliates.

If a company has a great service it is easier to find ways to promote the service and talk about how it solves a problem that people might be having. Even if you have a good service that is easy to promote without a good affiliate manager to support the affiliates it can be hard to want to promote a service. SpiderOak has both, a good service to promote and an affiliate manager that stays on top of problems and is easy to reach for support.

What trends are you seeing with affiliate programs?

RS: There has been a trend of moving away from affiliate programs being run in house to being hosted on a network. The SpiderOak program is an example of that move. The networks are able to help companies find stronger affiliates and helps to provide more trust between the company and the affiliate. Nothing like referring people to a company as an affiliate and then the company not paying for those referrals. Using a network allows for more transparency between the company and the affiliate.

What are your goals this coming year?

RS: Pretty much the same as other years; Continue to make a website that helps people choose the right online backup solution.

What is something most people wouldn’t know about being an affiliate?

RS: Trying to explain to people what I do. A lot of people simply do not understand how affiliate marketing works or what it is. In the end I usually just end up telling people that I make websites for a living, it is just easier that way.

We’re excited to grow our Affiliate Program and push it to the next level. Check out Our Reseller Program and SIGN UP NOW. You can be the next great addition to the SpiderOak Affiliate Program. We look forward to working with you!

Benefits to Becoming a SpiderOak Affiliate/Reseller

Would you be surprised to learn that affiliates can make good money? This week, we are re-launching our Affiliate Program and invite you to explore the benefits. It might be for you…

A *recent study found that affiliates decide which programs to market based on 1) Commission, 2) Merchant Reputation, and 3) Product or Service Relevancy.

Commission:

SpiderOak pays affiliates 50% of revenue for the first six months.

Payment Scenario

  1. Monthly Paid User @ 100 GBs: SpiderOak pays affiliates 50% of monthly revenue for the first six months for a total of $30 per paid user (50% of $10/month x 6 months = $30).

Payment Scenario

  1. Yearly Paid User @ 100 GBs: SpiderOak pays affiliates 50% of annual revenue paid out over a six-month period ($100 plan divided across 12 months is $8.33. 50% of $8.33 is $4.17 x 6 months = $25).

Payment Scenario

  1. Free User @ 2 GBs: SpiderOak pays affiliates $0.25 per user for every qualified lead (i.e. the SpiderOak application has been installed)

Merchant Reputation:

SpiderOak is the only ‘Zero-Knowledge’ Product in the Cloud Space. We’ll let the press do the talking for us:

Product or Service Relevancy:

From the ground up, SpiderOak was designed with privacy at the core. The company’s industry-leading ‘Zero-Knowledge’ privacy standard protects user data by encrypting file backup, synchronization and storage throughout every stage.

SpiderOak servers never store the plaintext version of a user’s encryption keys (or password). As a result, nobody can view any portion of a user’s content including filenames, file types, folder names, etc. Even the members of the SpiderOak staff with physical access to the servers can never view plaintext user information.

Metrics:

More than 1400 professional affiliates were surveyed in the *2012 Affiliate Summit AffStat Report. It found that 62.5% of affiliates promote consumer-related products, like SpiderOak. ShareASale – a marketing platform to exclusively for affiliates and merchants – is among the top three networks that affiliates participate in. There was a lot of great information in the report and and I encourage everyone to take a look.

What did surprise me was reading that more than half of the 1,400 affiliates surveyed promote less than 10 programs through their marketing channels. That is a small number – particularly when a little over 10% of this group brings in over $100,000/year.

Please let us know if you have any questions. Otherwise, what are you waiting for? Go ahead:

SIGN UP today!

Announcing Penetralia: Launch of First-Ever Open Source ‘Zero-Knowledge’ Application Framework

The RSA Conference in San Francisco takes place next week and we will be sponsoring the first annual Penetralia Event with our friends over at Silent Circle, the global encrypted communications service provider.

What is Penetralia? The definition reads:

1. The innermost part of a building, especially the sanctuary of a temple.

2. The most private or secret parts; the recesses; the penetralia of the soul.

Taking place on Monday, the 25th, from 7pm-10pm, the goal of Penetralia is to gather folks from across industries to further the privacy-in-technology conversation. “The underlying premise behind the cloud is that all data is stored or available in plaintext. From an end user perspective, this means everything you upload – from financial documents to family photos to vital company information – exists in a readable format by someone other than you. The ‘Zero-Knowledge’ concept propels the dialogue forward by enabling something previously not possible – maintaining privacy in a cloud environment,” said CEO and Co-Founder Ethan Oberman.

Penetralia is an invite-only event. If you would like to attend, please visit https://penetraliaevent.com/.

Also, this Monday at RSA we will formally announce a first-ever open source ‘Zero-Knowledge’ application framework. This framework will empower both companies and developers alike to take full advantage of ‘Zero-Knowledge’ cryptography and encryption standards through a lightweight utility that runs via the browser.

We believe this framework will deepen the divide between companies that need access to your data as part of their business model, such as Google or Facebook, as opposed to those who don’t, like Evernote or 37signals. With this advancement we ask, “Why would companies choose to store data in plaintext when there is no financial benefit in doing so?”

Now Hiring –> Web Developer!

SpiderOak is interested in hiring a San Francisco-based web developer to help the front-facing web presence around SpiderOak. You will be working closely with our on-staff designers and our CEO to craft the perfect web presence for SpiderOak.

You’ll be expected to have mastery of HTML-related presentation technologies, from HTML layouts with CSS to JavaScript-based UI frameworks like jQuery and Bootstrap. We also make heavy use of template systems, and you have to be comfortable making pages that will be ultimately created via template. In addition, we’re looking for someone with a strong web design background and willing to stand their ground and fight for what they believe is best as well. This person will also be expected to work and play well with our existing web designers and engineers- stand your ground and fight for what you believe in but be able to be pleasant while dealing with people.

SpiderOak is a distributed, virtual-office, work-from-home company. Any developer we hire will have to be a top-notch communicator. They will be expected to reliably show their face around our super-duper IRC channel at some point during typical US business hours as well as jump in and communicate across our issue tracker, email, and wiki. Even though we’re looking for you to be in San Francisco, the rest of SpiderOak now spans eighteen timezones and communicating via the written word is essential.

If you want to join in on our merry adventure, you will need a functional grasp of English (don’t worry, we have several staff on-board already for whom it’s a second or third language). You may also be expected to occasionally travel (at company expense). Important cities in the SpiderOakVerse are San Francisco, CA, Kansas City, MO, and Chicago, IL (for reference, these three cities make up about half of SpiderOak). A sense of humor is always appreciated and welcome.

Still interested? Send an email to jobs@spideroak.com including “web dev 2013″ in the subject with a little about yourself and your experience to date (a ‘cover letter’ if you will). English only, please. We also will want to see a portfolio of your work. It’s OK if you’re fresh and it’s thin- we want to see what you’re capable of and how you put pages together.

We know there’s talent in everyone regardless of what little papers might say, so we have no “minimum” requirements for degrees. We’re also super-equal-opportunity: quality design knows no bounds for race, gender, nationality, sexual orientation, species[1], or religion. If you can meet what we need, we’ll do amazing things together, no matter who, what, or where you are.

Footnotes:

1: Giant Pandas will be encouraged because, in the words of our new QA person, “AAAAhhhh-dorable!!!!”

Now Hiring –> Mac Client Engineer

SpiderOak is looking to expand out our development staff for working
on driving client development into the future. We are looking for a
talented, driven, Python and Objective-C slinging engineer excited to help us
push the boundaries of what people think is possible on the Mac.

Our goal is to enable SpiderOak to both better understand OS X, and to
also tie into OS X. In our Blue product for Windows, we have an
elementary Win32 Explorer extension that lets you add things to the
backup set and create single-file share links. On the Mac side, we
have something sitting on the sidelines in our skunkworks and need
someone to take lead on it and to shepherd it to completion and
shipping. Experience in PyObjC and digging through the Objective C runtime is desired. In addition, our engineer will be working on the SpiderOak
client backend, focusing on both general non-OS-specific work as well
as enhancing our product on the OS X platform. Finally, this person
should be an educator, capable of and willing to teach other
SpiderOakers details about the platform.

SpiderOak is a distributed, virtual-office, work-from-home company. Any engineer we hire will have
to be a top-notch communicator. They will be expected to reliably show
their face around our super-duper IRC channel at some point during
typical US business hours as well as jump in and communicate across
our issue tracker, email, and wiki. While you can work out of a
darkened basement at your whim (which some of us do!), you cannot
expect to venture off and not have to communicate with other
humans.

If you want to join in on our merry adventure, you will need a
functional grasp of English (don’t worry, we have several staff
on-board already for whom it’s a second or third language). You will
also be expected to occasionally travel (at company expense) to have
some quality face-to-face time. Important cities in the SpiderOakVerse
are San Francisco, CA, Kansas City, MO, and Chicago, IL (for
reference, these three cities make up about half of SpiderOak). A
sense of humor is always appreciated and welcome.

Still interested? Send an email to jobs@spideroak.com including
“mac client engineer” in the subject with a little about yourself
and your experience to date (a ‘cover letter’ if you will). NOTE:
Resumes are not required as who you are is more important than what
your resume may or may not say. If we enjoy your thoughts and feel
like you will be a good fit, we will send you a small task to
complete. Please do be sure to tell us a bit about yourself, what you
can do, and why you’d like to work for us. English only, please.

We know there’s talent in everyone regardless of what little papers
might say, so we have no “minimum” requirements for degrees. We’re
also super-equal-opportunity: quality hacking knows no bounds for
race, gender, nationality, sexual orientation, species[1], or
religion. If you can meet what we need, we’ll do amazing things
together, no matter who, what, or where you are.

Footnotes:

1: Sheep are especially encouraged to apply if they do not mind being
cloned to produce free copies of themselves to provide additions to
our workforce.