Final update on the JetBrains Toolbox announcement. Open letter by Maxim Shafirov, JetBrains CEO

Hello,

tl;dr

  1. We are moving forward with subscriptions with important adjustments.
  2. You will receive a perpetual fallback license once you pay for a year up front or 12 consecutive months.
  3. You will receive up to 40% discount for continuous subscription.
  4. You will be able to use the software without an Internet connection.
  5. Current customers with active or recently expired upgrade subscription get first two years of subscription for the price of one.
  6. We still recommend you take 10 minutes to read it all for the complete details.

On September 3rd we announced JetBrains Toolbox – our new developer productivity tools line licensing – to replace the current scheme. The announcement was made after our research, which included surveys with different categories of customers, indicated that it was the right move. The discussions and feedback that we received after the announcement went public showed that we had failed to properly account for all considerable groups of our customers and articulate our reasoning for the move in the announcement message.

We sincerely apologize for this.

Among the direct and often negative feedback, there were concerns raised by our passionate users. There was of course also support for the idea. We’re very grateful to all of you.

Along with explaining the new model and the adjustments we’ve made based on the feedback, we’ll also provide you with our reasons for the move and address some other concerns raised.

Moving forward with subscriptions

As announced earlier, starting November 2, 2015, you will be able to buy any of the products included under the JetBrains Toolbox on a monthly or annual plan, including the option to All Products which gives access to all the desktop developer tools.

Perpetual Fallback License

The monthly or annual payment is a subscription fee; however, when purchasing an annual subscription you will immediately get a perpetual fallback license for the exact version available at the time. This license will allow you to use that exact version of the software should you decide not to continue with the subscription after the year is up. If paying on a monthly basis, as soon as you pay for 12 consecutive months, you will also receive this perpetual fallback license providing you with access to the exact version of when your 12 consecutive months subscription started. You will receive perpetual fallback licenses for every version you’ve paid 12 consecutive months for in a rolling fashion.

This option is available whether you subscribe to a single product or the ‘All Products’ option.

Continuity Discount

For customers that continue to renew their subscription without interruption, we will be offering continuity discounts of 20% after the first 12 months and 40% after the first 24 months. While subscriptions remain active, they will continue to receive these discounts.
Please note some prices were changed compared to the initial Toolbox announcement.

Licensing and Activation

The easiest and most convenient way to manage subscriptions is to sign in with JetBrains Account, which has been in use by over 16,000 organizations and over 260,000 students for over a year already.

If you’re paying on an annual basis, the software will attempt to check the subscription status and ensure that the account credentials are up to date on a regular basis (in case you decide to change these for instance). The only time the software will graciously provide a warning is if the past due date of the subscription has occurred.

If required, you will also have the option to use a license key instead of JetBrains Account. However, these keys will need to be updated manually after a subscription is renewed.

If you’re paying on a monthly basis, the software will need to perform checks to validate the license using JetBrains Account. If it cannot connect to the Internet for MORE THAN 30 days, it will show you a message and provide a grace time for connection.

Organizations without Internet Access

If your organization does not allow an Internet connection, you will still be able to use a local license server or an offline license key.

Existing Customers

To address the transition of existing customers to the new model, we will be giving everyone with an active upgrade subscription or a subscription that expired less than a year ago, two years of subscription for the price of one year, and at 40% off standard annual price. Starting with the third year, the 40% discount stays on the yearly subscription plan.
If you do not have an upgrade subscription for your licenses or your subscription has long expired, you’re still qualified for 40% discount for annual payments provided you redeem this offer no later than January 1, 2017.

For more information about the final prices please see www.jetbrains.com/toolbox. If you have specific questions not covered below, please check the comparison table and the FAQ or contact us.

Reasons for our move to subscriptions and concerns raised

Why we are moving to subscriptions

Our current model is based on a largely accepted industry standard for downloadable software – pay a higher entry cost and then pay for upgrades.

For the past several years, we’ve been breaking away from annual release cycles, often releasing up to two or three major and minor releases per year. This is both a result of market demand as well as our own desire to make our work available sooner rather than later. Some of this work leads to features that make it to a What’s New page, while many under the hood improvements don’t, despite being important and necessary. And software, especially developer tools, need continuous innovation and support, whether it’s downloadable or in the cloud.

Our successful growth in terms of new customers has allowed us to move in this direction. However, we realize that unless we change our business model, this won’t be sustainable in the long run, because our user base cannot grow indefinitely. We invest our efforts into delivering a great experience to all our customers, both new and existing, and we want these efforts to be the driver of our revenues. We believe such a model is more sustainable in the long run and will allow us to continue making great tools for you.

Providing flexibility in usage of tools, the ability to pay monthly, or offering an affordable model for all our tools are great side-effects of this move, because subscriptions will enable these, but they are not the main reasons. Should we have told you this to begin with? Yes.

Having a simple and sustainable model was and continues to be our goal.

Concerns raised in regard to the move to subscriptions

Losing access to tools paid for

“This is downloadable software and I’ve paid for it. Now I’ll lose access to it if I don’t pay or JetBrains goes out of business”

This is the most controversial topic. We didn’t realize how many users would differentiate subscription based services such as cloud hosting, monitoring tools, communication tools or repository services from an IDE, despite some of these also having downloadable versions. We expected a lower entry cost and flexibility would outweigh the perpetuity. We believe though that now offering perpetual fallback licenses, which was also suggested by many who provided feedback, will address this concern.

A price increase in disguise

The move to subscriptions has brought some price changes which affected new licenses to WebStorm as well as several commercial items.

First and foremost, the subscription move is not about a price increase in disguise. It would have been much easier to just merely announce that, especially given that we’ve not had any significant change in prices for nearly 5 years. Our existing prices are available as are the new ones, and you will see that depending on the product and years of subscriptions some work out favorable to you as a customer, and some might not. Overall we’ve tried to provide prices that we believe are fair and sustainable.

Continuously raising prices

“JetBrains will continue to raise prices and force people to pay to continue to use the tools”

While we may raise (or lower) prices now and then, it has never been nor is it now our intention to do this continuously. Some commenters argued that we’d be taking them hostage by eliminating the perpetual license, and will use this to squeeze higher and higher subscription rates every time. Once again, that is not and never has been our intention. Nonetheless, we hope the perpetual fallback license removes any doubts people may have had.

Ceasing in providing value

“Putting people on subscriptions is just a way to force people to pay without providing new value”

Much like the previous case, if we do not provide value, people will not continue to use our products. For over 15 years we have provided what we believe are very competitive prices for our tools and the value they provide, and we will continue to do that. We are not exempt from the laws of the market. If we don’t provide value for what we charge, we won’t be able to sell, no matter how much someone might depend on us. Once again, we feel perpetual fallback licenses will mitigate the risk if it were to be the case.

Dealing with budget freezes

“We have mid-year budget freezes and would be left without the ability to use the tool”

We know based on feedback from customers that having a flexible model during a fiscal year does provide benefits. At the same, time we also understand that certain projects might have unannounced budget freezes and that this model might not be entirely suitable for them. We hope that the option to buy an annual subscription which provides a guaranteed perpetual version can alleviate these cases somehow.

Giving you the choice

“I upgrade every year and I want to continue to do so, but let it be my choice”

We hope that with these adjustments, the choice of when and if to upgrade is now in your hands.

In closing

From the very beginning at JetBrains we’ve focused on the things we’re passionate about, which is providing developers with efficient tooling and allowing them to focus on the really important things. This holds true today and will always do so.

We are still a company of developers creating tools for developers.

Thank you.

Maxim Shafirov

About JetBrains

JetBrains is a technology-leading software development firm specializing in the creation of intelligent, productivity-enhancing software. It maintains its headquarters in Prague, Czech Republic, with its R&D labs located in St. Petersburg, Moscow, Munich and Boston. JetBrains employs close to 600 people and is organically grown, with no external funding. Its product catalogue includes award-winning tools such as IntelliJ IDEA and ReSharper, and its IntelliJ Platform has been chosen by variety of companies to build their own tooling on, including Google's Android Studio. For more information, see www.jetbrains.com.

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Note to Editors: JetBrains, IntelliJ, IntelliJ IDEA, AppCode, CLion, PhpStorm, PyCharm, RubyMine, WebStorm, ReSharper, ReSharper C++, dotTrace, dotCover, dotMemory, TeamCity, YouTrack and Upsource are trademarks or registered trademarks of JetBrains, s.r.o. All other trademarks are the properties of their respective owners.