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SparkFun Free Day… behind the scenes

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We got 104 comments on our SparkFun Free Day aftermath post, several of which were rather… lively. This video shows what went on at SparkFun HQ during Free Day.

44 thoughts on “SparkFun Free Day… behind the scenes

  1. Inventorjack says:

    It’s disgusting that a company that is always willing to share knowledge, and then over $100,000 in free merchandise, got so much hate that day.

    I for one never got a successful connection to the site, didn’t get anything free, and am more likely than ever to buy a product I need from SparkFun before I go to anyone else.

    If you are one of those people who got pissed off because you didn’t get a free toy, maybe you should wake up, examine your greedy self, and work on being a better person, because quite frankly, the person you are is pretty sad.

    Best wishes to SparkFun and other companies who make it their business to give back to the community in one way or another.

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Inventorjack – all I can say is: wow, do you need to look in the mirror!

      1. Inventorjack says:

        Dear Anonymous Troll,

        If you shared a valid argument using any sort of logic, and didn’t hide behind anon, your point might be considered.

        Tip of the day: You gotta be less obvious.

        1. Anonymous says:

          Another good tip: don’t let teh interwebs get under your skin and ruin an otherwise pleasant illusion.

    2. salesmonster says:

      In case you want to pull yourself down from that cross.

      1. Inventorjack says:

        It doesn’t require being deity to recognize that Sparkfun did their best to give back a huge amount to their customers. And I stand by my statement that those who have loudly complained are, for the most part, simply greedy.

  2. Bob says:

    I signed in, I tried, and got two hours of timeout messages.

    That sucks, and you can’t spin that any other way.
    Of course, I knew it would be a crapshoot.

    The fact that the victors were 1 in 700, and it took almost two hours to get there, AND THEN Sparkfun comes out with this self-congratulatory nonsense about how GREAT their IT dept did is a slap in the face to all of us who saw, literally, two hours of timeouts.

    THAT is my problem. Not that I didn’t get free stuff, but that they’re proud of a .3% success rate.

    1. Inventorjack says:

      You have a point, I’ll agree. Popping the champagne may be a bit over the top when the event wasn’t altogether successful. The IT department certainly has work to do, and should have foreseen the amount of traffic they were going to get, given the blogs, forum posts, tweets, and other communications on the internet in the weeks leading up to FreeDay.

      Nonetheless, the company should be proud of putting together such an ambitious and philanthropic event. Maybe too ambitious, but it was a good gesture.

      1. fstedie says:

        Come on guys, this was no philanthropic event, it was $100K worth of publicity! $100k doesn’t buy you much air time on TV but on the web, I guess it can.

        I would love to be a fly on the wall come tax season to see how they are going to write this one off…

    2. Anonymous says:

      Thank you, Bob. Your description was spot on.

    3. japroach says:

      1 in 70, not 1 in 700.

  3. Bob H. says:

    My free day stuff shipped today! Gonna be playing with a WiFly next week.

  4. ROB K636 says:

    I order my stuff the day after, because I was not able to get in on the free day.

    Received it 8 days after I placed the order, but what the hell.

  5. charlie says:

    @ fstedie: you seem to get it. it was a publicity stunt. i knew that when they first announced it.(over a month ahead, if i remember) it was a smart one. i’m sure it was effective. i knew i would never get in when it showed up on all the big blogs. i did check the site that day because i happened to be up. site was dead. got like a 10 min timeout. went to do something else. you’re just an idiot if you get pissed off about not making it. you have no comprehension of probabilites, marketing, or market forces.

  6. Stunmonkey says:

    What pissed me off was the puppies and rainbows and unicorn farts crap about how Sparkfun was doing this for the loyal customers. That’s just bullshit. They did this on the backs of the loyal customers.
    Sparkfun were getting incredibly cheap publicity out of it. The less than $50k they likely spent out-of-pocket was a bargain. Good for them. It was quite mercenary on their part. Great, just don’t hide behind it as charity for their loyal customers. THAT part pissed me off.

    If they wanted to actually “give something back” they would have limited it to existing accounts or something. Instead they made damn sure none of us would get the discount, but the script kiddies and bot-mongers putting in multiple orders to just flip the stuff on Ebay would. They didn’t really care who the goods went to. They wanted the publicity, and the rankings, which they got. That was really the point.

    (just for clarity, no sour grapes, I did get the discount, mainly ’cause I filled my cart the night before right up to the ‘confirm order’ button, then spent 5 minutes on a script to simply hit ‘buy’ after 9:00 and slept in)
    It was the gladhanding B.S. that rubbed me the wrong way, not the promotion itself.

  7. john personna says:

    Well kids, take this as a piece of education. If you were upset about missing out, it is because you wrongly thought you were on to a sure thing. You invested time (probably not money) and emotion in that belief. When you crapped out, you blamed someone. Immature.

    The realistic thing to have understood, from the beginning, was that Spark Free Day was a gamble. We always knew that getting in early was part of the gamble, but it turned out that getting in when servers were flowing was part of it too.

    That’s the way it goes. There are limits to certainty. Uncertainty is real. There are known-knowns, known-unknowns, and unknown-unknowns.

    You are going to face that all your lives, roll with it.

  8. Volkemon says:

    @stunmonkey- you summed it up well, and are honest on your point of view. (“What pissed me off was the puppies and rainbows and unicorn farts crap….” ROGL!!!)

    @Inventorjack- “Nonetheless, the company should be proud of putting together such an ambitious and philanthropic event.”
    If you are still following this post, I imagine Stunmonkey’s comment either led to a revalation or nightmares. Hope it is the former.
    BTW, Anonymous is not ‘hiding’ behind anon,nor is s/he troll-ish. Well known commenter here. You might benefit from “another good tip-…” also :)

    I am a past and most likely future customer of Sparkfun, and congratulate them on a sucessful publicity campaign.

  9. Rob says:

    OK, your pissed off at a company giving out free stuff. You can spin is as:
    “It wasn’t to pay loyal customers back! It was publicity!”
    “They celebrated after giving away $100k!”
    Or whatever self-aggrandizing reason you want to give. At the end of the day, you’re still pissed at an electronics company for giving away free stuff and you didn’t get any.

    1. Stunmonkey says:

      Wow. At least read and vaguely comprehend the posts you replying to.

      Either you lack the basic reading comprehension to be here, the time to actually read the posts you are flaming, the patience to compose a coherent reply, or a combination of the above. In any case you fail miserably.

      This is a makers space. It requires being at least somewhat literate. I would recommend you crawl back to XBox live, WWE forums, Free Republic, or one of the many other wonderful places to visit on the internet where literacy, comprehension and coherency are neither required nor desirable.

  10. Dale Wheat says:

    [From my blog @ – 8 January 2010]

    Full disclosure: I have a business relationship with SparkFun. They sell my kits. I buy their products.

    Nathan Seidle of SparkFun Electronics is a genius.

    As far as I can tell, he went straight from college graduate to successful entrepreneur, having never held a “real job”. Genius!

    I’ve met him twice, both times at Maker Faires. He’s obviously talented and hard-working, but what you don’t find out until you meet him is the boyish glee you read in his writing is absolutely for real: he’s totally charismatic and his enthusiasm is infectious. Gush and more gush. I want to be just like him when I grow up. Anyway, back to the genius part.

    He gave away over $100,000 in products yesterday in what he called “Free Day”. Yes, there were some “catches” but he was very much up-front about them. See the original post for details.

    Genius? Yes! It’s all over the inter-webs today, and has been for days. I don’t spend a lot on advertising, so I’m no expert, but he’s almost certainly getting more bang for his buck giving his stuff away than in any other venue.

    When I first heard about it, I thought, “Genius! But…” And then my more cynical side whispered about the downside. People will complain. People will become outraged when they are, for whatever reason, denied their rightful entitlements. People will say Bad Things. I’ve seen it happen before. But overall I thought it was a great idea, one I wanted to emulate. I even planned a preemptive “Free Day” of my own, on a much smaller scale (of course) so that I could say, “What’s the big deal? I did that way back in 2009!” Yet I didn’t. Nathan and his team did, yesterday.

    So for most of yesterday and already this morning, the day after, everyone’s moaning and groaning about how they loaded up their shopping carts ahead of time and for whatever reason didn’t get it (Jeff K, I know you were just asking, not complaining as such). I’ve even seen the most amazing reactions from these types: “I’ll never shop there again”, “Nobody got anything – I hate them now”, “angry kerfuffle”, etc. And now I know why this, too, is pure genius.

    SparkFun has its fans, deservedly so, and they are a loyal bunch. Just look at the response to the “cease & desist” letter from those evil trolls at SPARC International. Those that loved SparkFun before love them even more fervently today. Those that got in on the Free Day discount (1,035 at last count) are true believers for life, most likely. The less fortunate yet level-headed who missed out are taking it well. It’s the squawking remainder that troubled me… until I saw the final piece of Genius with a Capital G.

    These are the ones no one wants as customers anyway! Good bye, good riddance, adieu, farewell, don’t let the door hit you on the backside when you leave.

    Nathan Seidle is a genius.

  11. Odin says:

    I thought free day was December 7th and not January 7th, so I filled my cart with goodies on Dec 7th.

    I ended up buying $50 of it on December 8th just because I didn’t want to wait. That was my first purchase with them.

    It worked.

  12. David says:

    Maybe instead of buying champagne they could have invested in server capacity to actually serve their customers. After seeing this video and the flip way they handled their failure, I guarantee I won’t buy from them in the future.

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My interests include writing, electronics, RPGs, scifi, hackers & hackerspaces, 3D printing, building sets & toys. @johnbaichtal

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