Many of you will remember Ashley Busby as Jelsoft's Business Manager from 2004 until 2009. Ashley mostly worked behind the scenes back then. Now, he works with Mike and Kier as XenForo's Business Guy, and he pops his head out a lot more often now! Let's see if we can find out a little bit more about Ashley!
What is your educational background?
My education is ongoing at the university of life and business in the real world. I have worked in numerous industries such as banking, retail and investment houses. I have gained experience in a variety of fields which has proved invaluable in my role as Business Guy.
How long have you been involved in the business of forum software development? What got you into it?
I have been directly involved with the business of forum software development for nearly 6 years. Indirectly, somewhat longer than that – I have known Kier for a long time and was aware of his involvement, in forum software, from the start. I was in awe at how forum software evolved. When the opportunity presented to become involved, I was pleased to make the change.
Are you involved in other projects besides XenForo?
Even if there was time available, which there isn’t, I would not want to be distracted by anything else other than XenForo. Obviously we all have to fit our daily lives into working with XenForo and there are times when one (daily life or XenForo) takes precedence – I’m sure can you guess which? It can sometimes make one unpopular.
What are the short, medium, and long term responsibilities of a "XenForo Business Guy"? Which takes up more of your time - day to day duties or planning ahead?
Currently the emphasis is on making XenForo available for sale. This means that there are a plethora of things that need to be in place for this to happen and I get to do the non technical bits. We are also constantly talking to each other about how we want to deal with other matters that have arisen. There is much going on behind the scenes. Our strategy for the medium term is largely dependent on the response in the short term as we have been keen not to take anything for granted or base anything on assumptions. The day to day tasks take up more time during the day and we tend to bunch our planning together in big chunks and deal with matter arising in general terms and discuss any details as and when necessary.
In the long term, the strategy is to build a product that customers (users and admins) want. There are a number of ideas that we think people will love and we as XenForo evolves we plan to implement them to extend XenForo’s appeal.
What are the usual kinds of issues you have to deal with?
We are dealing with the normal issues, agreeing on how to implement a suggestion, or not; replying to requests for, well all sorts; suggestions, translations and partnerships. We are also spending quite some time supporting each other and we are appreciative of the help we have from our moderators.
What's the hardest part of your job? The most enjoyable?
One the most enjoyable parts of all of this has been to see how well XenForo has been received. 3,500 posts in 24 hours after xenforo.com went live. The enjoyment is multi-faceted as it suggests that XenForo has hit the mark; it also fills me with pleasure to see the recognition of the hard (and very clever) work by Kier and Mike – They are amazing and I know that sounds biased, but they are!
Generally speaking, how does a company go about setting up a pricing strategy for a forum software product? A complex mathematical formula? Game theory? A conversation around a pub table?
We have spent a great deal of time debating how we position XenForo in terms of the product and pricing. Our underlying ethos is that of reason. We want those who intend to buy XenForo to know that their purchase reflects excellent value for money and enable them to support us, by buying XenForo, so that we in turn can support them by further developing XenForo. It needs to be structured to be sustainable both for the customer and for the business. One also has to take into account what is currently available and choose a strategy that feels comfortable and reasonable. Our experience gives us confidence that our structure will meet these criteria.
Both IPS and IB experienced a crisis when making a substantial change to their pricing structures. IPS worked through theirs and emerged strong, but it remains to be seen what will happen with IB (of course pricing is just part of the issue). Can situations like this be avoided or are they inevitable for successful companies in this field?
Change is always a sensitive topic. We are keen to make our intentions clear so that everyone knows our strategy as well ahead of time as is possible. We are a small company and we need to work together with our customers and by doing so, we hope to avoid such crises.
Your decision to continue working with Kier and Mike - I guess that means they're not too difficult to work with?
As I mentioned, I have known Kier for a long time. I have also known Mike for a long time now. It took some time before we decided on how and what we wanted to do and how we would do it. I think I have likened our working together as a marriage; it has its ups and downs. We keep each other in check without overly ruffling feathers and know that we are very much in this together.
Kier has been known to damage his hands, and it has been recently revealed that he is a frequent outdoor barefooter. Are these valuable commodities well insured?
If his feet are hurt, it will be easier to keep him chained to his desk. His hands are a different dilemma; we would need to have Mike write some ninja voice to text software.
What are some of your favorite things?
I have played a number of sports and whilst I am not as active as I used to be, I enjoy watching rugby and cricket. I play badminton, a bit of golf and have done some ballroom dancing. Over recent years, spending time with my family has become more and more special. Obviously, XenForo is a top favourite and I am often left with a feeling of pleasure when I see how people have received XenForo and to what Kier and Mike have done with XenForo.
What do you know now that you wish you knew 5 or 10 years ago?
I presume it is too easy to say that I wish I knew the lottery numbers. I think that looking back makes it easy to identify times when you could have done something differently and I believe that people make decisions according to the circumstances at the time, in conjunction with the experience you had at the time. I try not to look back with regret or wish I had done things differently. I suppose the only thing I wish I knew 10 years ago is that each passing day gives you more experienced and the experience that you have 10 years later make you what you are today.
What does the future hold for Ashley Busby?
I think that the future is all about XenForo and I would like to see it grow and become more special than it already is. I look forward to see the hard work that Kier and Mike have put in making XenForo highly sought after.
Thanks for taking the time out of your demanding schedule to answer our questions. Is there anything you'd like to say in closing?
I don't think there is anything I want to add right now. Lets see how this one goes.