Wyze has lost it way

@WyzeMatt I hope you don’t regret soliciting feedback, and you asked not to hold back, so you’ll get it. :rofl: Don’t worry, I will be respectful. :slight_smile: Here is my huge essay response (Titles for sub-sections for TLDR; people to skip ahead):

My Open Letter to Wyze,

I’m a major supporter

I am probably one of the biggest Wyze fanboys that has ever existed. I say this so you know this is coming from someone who loves Wyze, not a complainer/hater. To establish the truth of this claim:

  • Once I hit 40 cameras (including 6 Floodlight Pro cams around my house), I stopped counting how many Wyze cams I have.
  • Once I hit over 300 total Wyze products, I stopped counting how many Wyze products I have. I have multiples of nearly everything.
  • I have nearly every subscription (a couple of them aren’t compatible with each other, though I had the other on a secondary account for a while). (I started with 5 Cam Plus subs, then got Cam Plus Unlimited since the day it launched, I had Sprinkler Plus, I have Cam Plus Lite, I’ve had Home Monitoring Service since it launched, I tried Cam Protect on a secondary account for over a year.
  • I have spent thousands of dollars with Wyze…I guarantee I am in the top 0.01% of your users in spending.
  • I even attended the “Employee-only” 5-year anniversary celebration Wyze had in 2022. All of the higher-ups know who I am from my activity in their forums, etc…even if they don’t remember meeting me in person (they might).
  • I am among the most active users.
    • In the forums I have more All-Time Likes received on my posts than any other user (besides employee @WyzeJasonJ);
    • 2nd most replies ever (under @spamoni),
    • I have over 80 full 24hr days worth of time spent engaged in this forum
    • I’m also the user with the most posts on the Wyze Discord Server.
    • I volunteer my time to help out other Wyze users in the forums and Wyze Discord Server (and Reddit to a smaller extent), and I was actively helping out users before I was even asked to be a “volunteer.”
  • I have and wear a Wyze hat, Wyze T-Shirt, Wyze Hoodie, etc. I have always been proud to love and recommend Wyze.
  • I probably post more than half the questions in most of the AMA events on Reddit.
  • I have convinced MANY people to come to Wyze, including family, friends, neighbors, and some strangers.
  • Probably many more things I overlooked off the top of my head

To say that I demonstrably obviously have LOVED Wyze for years, is an understatement and a small summary. Few people have had as much enthusiasm and genuine love and support for this company as I have had. I have long believed in and supported Wyze’s adopted core values and missions of “Be friends with users,” “Make great tech affordable to everyone,” disrupting markets, and “too good to be true” products and pricing. I have long LOVED and supported everything Wyze stood for in all these ways.

It seems hard to dispute that I am indeed a major Wyze fanboy (and if there are others who can top all of the above, then I wholeheartedly salute you and welcome you to the club)! Keep that in mind for everything else I say because I will have some hard-to-hear criticisms, and I want you to clearly remember I love Wyze and am one of the biggest supporters. I am not a hater, I am not a troll. I am not a compulsive complainer. I am one of your biggest long-time fans and believers. I still am. So keep that in mind, I say all these hopes, wishes and concerns BECAUSE I love Wyze, and you need to hear it if you are willing and soliciting feedback like you just did.

Wyze has long been “Exciting” to me from the moment I heard about them up through all of at least 2022 as they expanded into the smart home arena to become more than just a camera company. I have been proud to have Wyze products/services and help answer people with questions or who needed help or those wanting ideas for automations and workarounds, etc. When Vivint reps knock on my door every few months I laugh and tell them there is a zero percent chance I would ever leave Wyze for them and wish them well with my neighbors.

Changes may stem back to investors?

I must admit that while I am still here and have hope, I do have concerns about how things have changed from your origins and particularly over the last year or so. Maybe it started with the Series A funding and the extension of the Series A funding. I don’t know how much influence or control the investors gained from the Series A funding, and I’m not necessarily critical of that. It allowed you to survive hard times and expand and it seems to have made sense from everything I know from public record. I am also sure you will eventually try for a pre-IPO or SPAC (Special Purpose Acquisition Company, or merger) at some point if you haven’t already tried. Again, I’m not judging, it makes sense. I probably would do so as well in your shoes. For all I know, your investors might even strongly push for this. I am not sure of the terms on Series A or other funding you may have done. But it does concern me that it feels like from that time on, Wyze seems to have changed a little more over time.

Why Wyze was virally embraced

Let’s briefly reflect back on what made Wyze a viral success with overwhelming excitement and support WITHOUT ANY NEED FOR CONVENTIONAL ADVERTISING. Wyze’s beginnings went viral with massive amounts of love because of the following things:

  1. Disruptive Affordability: At a time when smart home cameras were really expensive, Wyze launched at a crazy low price.
    • I’m not saying that Wyze is no longer affordable, but you effectively disrupted the market to the point where there are countless competitors at close to the same prices. I love the influence you had in making this happen, but prices are WAY more competitive now.
  2. Quality and Features: When Wyze came out it delivered a lot of extra features that competitors didn’t for the same or cheaper cost.
    • Now many of those features are standard with lots of smart cams. Wyze was one of the first to add free local person detection included in smart cams, and now many more companies do this thanks to Wyze even though Wyze mostly moved away from it (with few exceptions).
  3. Community Engagement: You actively engaged with users, listened to feedback, addressed issues, and continuously improved things based on user input. I think you still do reasonably well with community engagement in comparison to other companies. You are doing this right now. Jason and Gwendolyn do it a lot on all the platforms, both publicly and behind the scenes. The founders recently did an AMA too. Wyze has had dedicated community managers. Some of the marketing people and other employees interact with people on various platforms, and employees still review the wishlist and random other posts. Wyze does way more of this than basically any other similar competitor. I think you’re doing reasonably well here still. Doing this in the early days with the leadership helped a lot with building a sense of loyalty and trust among early adopters.
  4. Regular Updates: Wyze consistently rolled out firmware updates, software features, better performance, new things constantly. Users found this exciting.
    • You used to do this constantly for ALL your products, especially in the early days. This one will feel brutal, so brace yourself, and I am just reporting how it feels to many users…now it feels like you have abandoned and EOL’d everything that doesn’t bring your investors SIGNIFICANT residual income. This hurts. It is the complete opposite from why many early adopters loved you and found you exciting and trusted that you were a good investment. It kind of feels like a betrayal that you have abandoned anything that doesn’t bring residual income to investors instead of caring about the overall user experience and continual improvement and expansion of our smart homes and functionality. This hurts a lot. Now, in comparison to how things used to be in your early days, it kind of FEELS like you’ve changed to a new model where things are basically never going to improve from how they launch and they are EOL’d (End Of Life) right after launch day. With the exception of ongoing security updates…which then sometimes reduce functionality and cause more errors and frustrations. I mean, we’re grateful for the security improvements, but the experience has been painful multiple times this year, and it often comes with very few to no other features or other things to make us excited that there are such updates. The updates often feel like downgrades to many peoples’ experience since there isn’t much new stuff that comes with them that they can see. From a psychological, user-experience, updates rarely FEEL like improvements like they used to in the early days where new features were constantly being added for all users, not just those with providing residual income. I do read all the release notes, and I know Wyze does still add stuff and does a lot of security and bug fix updates. But I’m sure you’ll hear from other users that it doesn’t FEEL the same as it used to for many people who were excited by the constant new features and improvements for every user (no subscription required). It’s an ongoing joke in Wyze communities, especially reddit that Wyze will paywall literally anything now, even if it doesn’t logically have ongoing costs. I know that’s not what you want to hear as the head guy over services/subscriptions growth, but I’ll address that more in your capacity in a minute. The point is that Wyze changed from an image of a company that everyone loved because Wyze gave free, no-strings-attached constant improvements on EVERYTHING for EVERYONE with lots of transparency, to having the perception that Wyze does nothing without a subscription attached now and people feel betrayed by the change.
  5. Expansion of the Product Line: Wyze didn’t stop at cameras. Wyze started exploding BECAUSE they expanded their product line to include smart bulbs, smart plugs, door/window sensors and more. MANY people didn’t start with a camera.
    • I didn’t start with a Wyze camera. I actually got brought into the Wyze family/ecosystem because of your smart scales! That is what funneled me into this ecosystem. I was planning to buy Nest cameras, Nest Video Doorbells, etc. I compared DOZENS of smart scales and concluded the Wyze scale was the BEST scale for many reasons irrelevant to this discussion. Then because of the scale, I saw all these awesome ways people said they were using Wyze cams, including tons of features and being able to do all this stuff for free, 3rd party integrations like Tiny Cam Pro with free person detections, local storage; RTSP options; Home Assistant through 3rd parties; lots of customization options (this is a huge one people loved about Wyze); plus new stuff directly from Wyze constantly (more than every other company was doing). It was amazing. Plus the sensors and other stuff, it was so exciting. I fell in love. Then I bought Cam Plus, then Cam Plus Unlimited, then everything else. The Cameras didn’t bring me to Wyze. Other stuff acted as a funnel to catch me, and that brought me to your subscriptions for the added value. Your expansionism funneled me and others in, not your cameras.
    • The sad part is that you’ve basically shrunk, if not DROPPED your funnel to your services and subscriptions. It seems like you’re not expanding anymore, but doing the OPPOSITE…becoming a deflationary company that is putting all your eggs in the camera basket now. History of other companies doing the same deflationary model shows major red flags when they do this. It’s concerning, especially to major fanboys like me.
  6. Transparent Pricing: People LOVED Wyze early on specifically because they were transparent about their pricing and didn’t rely on subscription models for their essential features. This resonated with lots of users and went viral with those who appreciated straightforward pricing without hidden costs.
    • Wyze has kind of strayed from this compared to the past.
  7. Resiliency: Wyze won TONS of early disputes about patent contestations, etc. And come through some hard times, with even the CEO showing his faith by putting his own personal house on the line, etc. Wyze has been a big winner in grassroots resiliency.

There was a day when Wyze was nearly universally and unreservedly loved over competitors for all of the above reasons and more…and while some of it still applies to a degree, some of it doesn’t, and people feel that. Again, I am speaking here as one of your most well-known ultimate fan-boys, not a compulsive-complainer, troll, hater, etc that is easily dismissed. I’m feeding it to you raw and straight here as a HUGE Wyze lover.

Part of the problem that I think Wyze is overlooking with this focus on Cameras and AI is that you can have the most AMAZING AI in the whole industry, but if all it can do is stuff with cameras, you will ALWAYS lose to the platforms that can do stuff with an entire smart home ecosystem even if their AI isn’t as top of the line. People only need so many cameras. And if all you offer is cameras and we can’t use them together with ANYTHING else to do other automations, then you are failing. I can always expand my smart home, but once I have 6 Floodlight Pros surrounding my entire house, why do I need more cameras? Especially if you don’t ALLOW them to work with my other smart home devices I need. If you EOL all your other products, and you don’t have 3rd party integrations for Home Assistant, HomeKit, SmartThings, etc, you can’t really compete with what people want in a smart home. I have cameras in my main rooms, and I want to have automated lighting in my house in all the public areas, but it’s really hard to do that with Wyze right now. We can get more into the problems if you want, but the fact is that your smart home systems are fairly limited. They’re cloud-dependent with too much latency for enjoyable fast lighting automation (on immediately when a person enters and off as soon as there is no person present, works locally without dependency on cloud and AWS outages, but leverages the cloud as an added bonus).

What would make people excited to loyally pay Wyze subscriptions?

You ask what would make users excited to pay a subscription to Wyze. First, let me give you an example where Wyze is totally missing the point with some subscriptions and why the HMS likely isn’t more successful…and it’s directly related to dropping any R&D that’s not a camera:

We were recently told Wyze won’t be making a Smoke/CO detector because there are regulatory struggles and other companies already make good ones so you can’t disrupt the market on those. You’re totally missing the entire point though! We are PAYING a subscription for Wyze monitoring. Some insurances REQUIRE smoke/CO detection. We don’t need it to be best and cheapest Smoke detector at an earth-shattering market disrupting launch. We just need a smoke detector to go with the rest of our paid subscription. We are being told that we should keep Wyze monitoring for burglary, but pay a separate company for smoke monitoring? Does that make sense to ANYONE? Who would pay 2 subscriptions for monitoring just because Wyze doesn’t have one of the 6 critical monitoring features? People won’t do that. If they need smoke monitoring, you are telling them to cancel Wyze and pay the money to a competitor. If you want the subscription money, you have to provide all the things that will be required by insurances and that people will need/want. If Wyze HMS subscriptions are low, it’s partially because you’re not providing everything they want monitoring for. Forget the market disruption on that, some people are told they MUST have smoke monitoring. If you want their subscription money, you should fix that. Otherwise they CAN’T choose or use Wyze. Even if your smoke detector is a little more than someone elses, at least we have the option to get it monitored. You can’t give up on everything that isn’t a camera and then say “see, our users only want cameras…” That is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Of course if you don’t provide what people want or need and stop supporting or adding to things, people are going to feel that start avoiding them. It’s not that Wyze can’t have a successful Monitoring subscription, but if you refuse to support what everyone needs, don’t blame people for having insurance that orders them to get something that support Smoke detection and deciding it doesn’t make sense to pay for 2 companies instead of just the one that has everything they need all in one.

You also stopped developing any improvements for the Wyze routers. They have GREAT performance, but they are super basic on settings and control. I would much rather see an optional subscription like other router companies just so you could keep adding to it and make it a FORMIDABLE router…rather than basically EOL at launch.

Nabu Casa Subscription Example

Now for my REAL main example…a great example that speaks VOLUMES. I know it’s not an identical example, but there are still good lessons here. Study the relationship between Home Assistant and Nabu Casa’s optional subscription. It’s got some similarities to what Wyze was like in the early days. Let me summarize: Home Assistant allows people to do basically anything for free. Nabu Casa was established by the same people who created Home Assistant and HA-OS. Their mission is to make the privacy-centered smart home accessible to everyone. Sounds fairly similar to Wyze’s founding. One key difference though is that they operate without external investors and they rely solely on user support through Home Assistant Cloud subscriptions. Wyze also relies on most of their profit coming from subscriptions. There is nothing wrong with that. But there is a key difference here, and that is that nobody complains about the Nabu Casa subscription. Why is that?

One reason nobody complains about the Home Assistant subscription is that Nabu Casa actively contributes to enhancing Home Assistant for EVERYONE, even for users who do not subscribe to their services. They allocate a decent amount of time and resources to improve HA, make it easier to install, manage, and become more accessible to a wider audience. They constantly add features, optimizations, and hosting everything in an ad-free environment.

Nabu Casa provides the Home Assistant Cloud service, but everything it offers can actually be done for free. Think about that for a minute. EVERYTHING their subscription does, can be done free without their subscription. The subscription just makes things easier for people, and gives their supporters an excuse to support them in this mission too. The subscription offers secure remote access (already possible without the subscription, just a convenience to have them do it for us), voice integrations (including Google, and Amazon…which can be done without the subscription, but they make it easier…and text to speech stuff…which you can also do without the subscription, but they make it easier), and automatic configuration backups and storage (also possible to do without the subscription, it’s just a convenience).

Because of the Nabu Casa subscription, essential features are available to ALL users and improvements are enjoyed by ALL users. Nabu Casa also bought out ESPHome and a lot of people buy from them just to support them in that way too. ESPHome makes it possible to basically make ANY kind of device and firmware.

Basically, the relationship between Nabu Casa and Home Assistant is symbiotic. They ENHANCE the platform, improve privacy, provide awesome cloud services and conveniences while ensuring everything with Home Assistant remains a powerful and accessible tool and platform for ALL users, not just their subscribers. They continue to support and improve EVERYTHING, not just a single area.

People LOVE Nabu Casa with extreme loyalty. There are many people who pay the Nabu Casa subscription just on principle without even using anything it offers, just to support them as a donation. Can you imagine that? People paying you a subscription without even using what it offers? Imagine if you could do that?

Yes, you COULD do that…but it would take a culture realignment and require Wyze to go back to be more like the way it was in the early days. It would require Wyze to care more about adding new features and ongoing support and improvements to nearly ALL their products, not just newly launched cameras. Wyze is too compartmentalized. It needs to have ALL products work together the way USERS want them to work. You need a new Rules engine that allows people to do rules any way they want. There need to be Conditional operators with if/then, and/or, & wait X amount of time operators. You need to allow scripting like Google just did. You could have a small LLM MAKE RULES for people to work with their Smart Home. Allow them to tell some Wyze AI what kind of automation they want to set up and allow it the tools to do that. Go look at how Google just set that up with their system where the AI will script automations for people using devices and conditional operators.

What would make me feel good about paying you for a subscription?

Set it up so we can actually use our cameras for more than just a notification or recording. Make it so I can use it with other smart home tech, make it so I can automate the lighting in my house. Make it so things work even during an internet or AWS outage. Don’t overwhelm us with subscription fatigue, subscription nagging, ads. Make the subscription feel like less of a threat or REMOVAL of functionality. Make it feel like you strongly care about the people who don’t have a subscription. Widen your funnel and expand with SMART device (not stick vacuums, lifestyle things etc), but also don’t shrink into a deflationary single category red-flag. Your subscription income resources shouldn’t ONLY go toward the subscription. Use it to improve EVERYTHING, for EVERYONE. Add new features, add new automations, add new optimizations.

You asked us to “Shoot for the Moon” in what we’d love to see in a subscription? My Wyze Vision would be this:

To many people, it feels to me like Wyze’s “Vision” has shrunk to match the eyes of investors (Cameras and Cam Plus), rather than what users first saw and loved in Wyze with the vision of what it COULD BE. That is how it has changed. The vision and the culture aren’t what the original Wyze was. Again, I’m not saying this as a hater. I’m not. Not by any means. Go look at my intro again. I’m one of the biggest Wyze fanboys EVER. I’m just giving it to you straight, and someone needs to hear it without giving you investor softballs.

If you want us to be “excited for service subscriptions”, you have to get back to making users feel like they can trust you. Like you’re not going to EOL and abandon everything right after it launches. Like the subscription isn’t the end goal for subscriptions sake. That you aren’t being strong-armed by investor influence or demands/threats to bring them residuals. This recent “Final Sale” fiasco on at least 8 products is kind of scary to people, and some have been upset by trying to return stuff that was “Final Sale’d” even when they paid full price for it. No 30-Day returns, etc. Here’s one user who got concerned about seeing the notice: Color bulb final sale? and another user who had a terrible experience with it in practice, even though they paid full price for theirs: This company has really gone downhill Others will soon be getting very similarly upset, partially from misunderstandings. Believe it or not, that affects subscription growth too. It destroys trust. It scares people. It throws up huge red flags.

What I would drive home

If I could drive one single thing into Wyze about how to sell a subscription, it is that the thing you have to realize is that subscriptions aren’t COMPARTMENTALIZED from everything else in the company. I know half the stuff I mentioned above aren’t directly part of your purview or your job description as Senior Growth Manager related to subscriptions, BUT…but…they ARE. IF you want to add growth to your services and subscriptions, you can’t let the rest of those things drag people’s emotions through the grinder. To better sell subscriptions you have to improve the other things too. They aren’t compartmentalized no matter how much we wish they were. Selling Cam Plus can’t only be about doing right by the latest camera model and features. It sucks that this is true, but it is. Everything else matters.

Winning AI Wins the Smart Home?

You can market the crap out of cam plus all you want or any other subscription, and even though Dave said this in the AMA:

if I were to pick a theme for 2024 at this point, I would probably say AI. Like most of the tech world, we are very focused on building AI 2.0 into Wyze Cams. Whoever wins the race to AI is going to win the smart home, so it’s absolutely critical for us right now and will likely consume a lot of our engineering resources. We’ll still work on other products, but I expect them to move slower like in 2023.

You can have the BEST and most advanced smart home and AI in the entire world…but if you don’t have an advanced and awesome smart home ecosystem with lots of diverse options for all our smart home needs for it to work with, along with continued improvements, and usefulness including for those without a subscription or ability to work with other companies’ products…you absolutely can’t win the smart home. Period. Blowing off nearly everything except cameras and AI, ABSOLUTELY, 100% can not “win the smart home” on it’s own. If you want to make people LOVE you and loyal and excited, go back to doing what got people to love you and be loyal and excited, and take a lesson from Home Assistant and Nabu Casa. They did services and subscriptions right in every way with a killer loyal culture.

I know I gave some difficult-to-hear criticisms, but as a Wyze-lover, major fanboy, ultimate supporter, I hope they help Wyze understand how users feel and why there are so many threads like this about how Wyze has “lost it’s way” or “gone downhill” in the forums, reddit, etc. in recent times which were rare to never in some past times (not counting trolls, compulsive-entitlement, etc). I think you are making some decisions that are mistakes and they are affecting your reputation, bringing down the excitement, and making it harder for people “trust” the company in the same way everybody once did as I outlined above.

I love you Wyze. I’m still here. I’m not a hater. I have hope. I look forward to see what you have planned in “the Year of AI” and I plan to buy one of those “Wyze AI Chore Robots” Dave talked about in the AMA whenever you come out with those in several years. That sounds amazing. I’m here for it. I intend to keep being a good volunteer for you. Don’t let any of the above make you think I don’t still love Wyze in so many ways. I just feel that while you are asking and soliciting such feedback that you need someone like me (who clearly loves the company) to tell you what so many other people are feeling and saying in recent times. I have met the leadership, and I loved them. They are smart, insightful and caring people. Meeting them in person made me love Wyze all the more, sincerely, I was impressed. If you feel misunderstood or something, please show us more of your vision. Like you did at the end of 2022 with the founders’ letter, maybe do a new letter this year telling us YOUR VISION of what you see for the company. Don’t hold back. Make us believe, let us see it like you see it. Show us more of that early-Wyze-Transparency and Being friends with users. Show us what you are envisioning.

-Carverofchoice

48 Likes