‘We messed up’ says New Voice founder

The Nova grid and New Voice OpenSim hosting company went out of business in early 2012. This is the story of what went wrong, from the founder himself, Enrico Ranucci.

Snapshot--Nova-Nova (welcome area)_001

When New Voice was about to go out of business in early 2012, many people tried to help — and I thank you all. Unfortunately, I had made so many mistakes that it brought the company down and made it impossible to keep going.

Before we list the errors we have done, and the fixes we applied, I want to let everyone know that no customers lost their money or their content: all regions were backed up and delivered to their original creators, and all paying tenants got refunds. If anyone did not get our attention, I invite them to write me personally at [email protected] or contact me either in-world or by Skype.

I’ll talk about the biggest of these mistakes, and what I learned from them.

We shouldn’t have used master code in the production environment

I know developers repeat it over and over — don’t use the experimental “master” code base, wait for the stable official release.

But Nova got our enthusiasm going because it was the first and the only public grid running on the Aurora-Sim version of OpenSim. My efforts to help the growing Aurora-Sim community fueled that enthusiasm and killed my company. It was my fault, and I paid for it.

This is just one of hundreds of fixes we made to our business model when we created the new brand SASSO, which is an acronym of OpenSim and Aurora-Sim Servers. I am not going to make that same mistake again. If I tried, my business partners would kill me even before my customers could get to me.

At SASSO, we are only using official, stable releases of OpenSim and Aurora-Sim. As all other grids and hosting companies should do.

I shouldn’t have used Italian servers

I am Italian, but 99.99 percent of my customers were from the United States. The server ping from the Aruba server farm in Tuscany was huge. Tuscany is a beautiful and romantic place but probably too far from Texas. The huge lag messed up the assets server, and caused a new Aurora-Sim feature known as “the black hole” to literally eat our mySQL database.

I am still banging my head on my desk for doing that. I should have listened to one of the Aurora-Sim developers and gotten agreements with a US-based server farm. In fact, that is now what we are doing at SASSO. Thanks to my Florida-based business partners, we are now hosting in the US for our American customers, as well as in other continents for clients overseas, so as to make the user experience has as little lag as possible. This also offers significant benefits for our region and assets servers.

I shouldn’t have tried to handle all the support on my own

Many managers have problems with delegation, and I was an extreme case. Trust me on this: it is one hundred times better to find ten co-workers with average skills then try do everything by yourself. No matter how good your own skills are, by trying to do everything perfectly, in the end, you’ll do everything wrong.

Nova was my baby, too precious to be put in the hands of inexperienced technicians. I repeatedly refused help, and it was my biggest single mistake. Today, at SASSO, I am a part of a team, and not the one making the final decisions all by myself.

Today, our mottos is this: We can’t be perfect but if we try, we can be excellent.

I should have listened to my customers

Back in 2010, we had developed a Web control panel with features such as the ability to  import and export OAR region backups and IAR inventory files, as well as the ability to stop and start regions. But we only made it available to a restricted number of test users, instead of rolling it out to everyone, since people were asking for it.

We got stuck in the testing development process and didn’t move on. If all our customers had the control panel by default, customers would have been able to save their assets instantly without having to waste their time waiting for support.

SASSO started right out by building an easy-to-use control panel. Every customer can now directly interact with the region and server back ends.

My love for OpenSim and Aurora-Sim communities was not a mistake

Despite my prior failure, the people who make up the OpenSim and Aurora-Sim communities have been a source of strength for me, allowing me to rediscover my enthusiasm and try again with a new company, new partners, and new funding.

I was happy to find my old friends in OSgrid hugging me and making me feel like I never failed. This definitely helped me to pull away from the pit of depression and regain my faith in a promising future.

I like Opensim and Aurora-Sim more now than in 2010

Congratulations to all the OpenSim and Aurora-sim developers! The number of fixes, new features and implementations is huge! I spent last month decorating our new headquarters in OSgrid and wow — simply WOW guys — again thanks and congratulations!


Enrico Ranucci

Enrico Ranucci is the COO and co-founder of SASSO, an OpenSim hosting company based in Florida. Previously, he was the founder of New Voice, an Italy-based OpenSim grid and hosting company that had hosted nearly 500 regions starting in 2009 and closing in early 2012.

16 Responses

  1. Plenty of great advice here, not just for anyone thinking of starting a hosting company, but for OpenSim grid owners as well. Always better to learn from other people’s mistakes — thank you for sharing! And good luck with SASSO — the more vendors people have to choose from, the more robust the OpenSim ecosystem becomes, and the more trust customers will put in it.

    Meanwhile, don’t forget to donate patches back to the OpenSim, and help support core OpenSim development! Some other vendors are already doing this. The donation page is here: https://www.gittip.com/justincc/

    • trrlynn73@gmail.com' Minethere says:

      It would be nice if more grid owners apologized for their mistakes in such public ways. At the very least, it would show, as this person has done, that they are merely humans, just like the rest of us.

  2. netinterprizes@yahoo.com' Alex Ferraris says:

    yes we all learn from our mistakes but the love for this business sticks around and until the beast is out we cant stop from trying. Same with me. I tried and tried with aviworlds. Made mistakes and wrong decisions. Anyway the fact is we tried and we now know more than before. That is a positive in my view.
    Alex Ferraris.
    AviWorlds President & CEO.

    • enrico.ranucci@live.it' Enrico Ranucci says:

      best lesson ever: once you get responsabilities (like a grid owner has concerning user’s content) you have to be able to transform the love for the business to the love for your customers need.
      Being able to realize that before you reach the border-line is a must !

  3. ricardodelugo@ymail.com' Ricardo de Lugo says:

    Glad to see you back Enrico. we had regions with you before and will again.

    Best customer service we ever got online was from you.

    we look forward to your new marketplace also.


  4. svanmeirhaeghe@hotmail.com' Savino van Meirhaeghe says:

    i can allone say i missed Novagrid. snif. and yes people take errors some time. and with errors can you find the way in this for fix you self….
    so simple is it

    • enrico.ranucci@live.it' Enrico Ranucci says:

      hey Savino ! Your free region is waiting for you dear…but i know you learned a lot of things during these years so you are prolly better then me now 🙂
      Missed you too <3

  5. concerned@mail.com' concernedavatar says:

    Why does this site want my social security number to order region? I figured hey maybe this is a new thing and maybe its ok to provide so when I looked up their trademark with trademark offices there is no match. This seems like a big scam. Please no body sign up with this place seems dangerous. VERY SHADY! Scary after the target breach!!!!

    • lastpostnolongercare@ymail.com' FormerHGBReader says:

      Surprised your comment has not been removed because this does not sugarcoat and lie to possible new members of the metaverse
      You are correct THEY DO NOT NEED any persons social security number to order region and this is a big security risk and a fake trademark well unless an application is pending I call foul as well!!!!

    • enrico.ranucci@live.it' Enrico Ranucci says:

      Hello ‘concernedavatar’ – our chekout process gives you 2 options: chekout as anonymous user using your paypal account or register a new account on our website. We are based in EU and we ask Tax number (or VAT ID) to EU area customers. If you register as not EU customer it doesnt ask for your Tax number and in case of US citizens it replaces the tax number field with the ‘County’ information of your address.
      Talking about trademark it is a no: SASSO is not a trademark (yet).

    • zindaiya@mail.com' Zindaiya says:

      It’s not a big scam. I ordered from them a few days ago. They did ask for the “TAX ID” number as he states below but I just put in 00000000 and guess what? It worked just fine. No issues at all. There’s nothing shady or weird about it, just a different form utilized by them initially because where they are based, that information is probably needed for tax purposes.

      On the internet, different places do things differently and they aren’t all scams or horrifying breaches of personal security.

      • enrico.ranucci@live.it' Enrico Ranucci says:

        You gained a free ad for your region Zindaiya: Multnomah Falls ! up and running in OSGrid and promising to be one of the coolest already 😉