Persistence Labs is Shutting Down

(tl;dr: See the title =) Development costs are exceeding revenue. If you own a licence to SemTrax, firstly thanks for your support, and secondly you should have already received an email plus a full refund. If not, get in contact! I'll be returning to writing on my personal blog.)

Most people that have worked as reverse engineers and security researchers for a while have a long list of tasks for which they would like better tool support. In late 2012 I decided to make a dent in my list and started Persistence Labs. Seeking external funding was not an appealing route for various reasons, so initially I used consulting and training to fund development of tools for personal use, as well as developing software for private clients. This model worked well, provided the opportunity to teach and meet a lot of great people while also providing plenty of time for research and tool development. 

While I enjoy consulting and training, what gets me up in the morning is analysis, engineering and learning. With that in mind, in early 2014 I decided to bring on board another couple of engineers and start turning towards building a product-focused company. Over the course of a year we prototyped, tested and eventually released SemTrax. The commercial goals for SemTrax were straightforward: to fund its own development, and ideally to fund R&D on alternate projects. Anyone familiar with the reverse engineering tools market will tell you this was always going to be a difficult objective to achieve (and possibly a naive one ;)). That said, sales were initially strong and SemTrax covered its own development expenses during the first couple of months (while the official release of SemTrax was in June we made it available to subscribers to our mailing list in February, and it turns out that constituted a fairly large proportion of our customers).

That's the good news. The bad news is that unfortunately for the past few months SemTrax sales have tapered off. The problems that SemTrax addresses are non-trivial to solve and expensive in terms of developer time. There's an easy-to-calculate number of sales we need to hit per month in order to progress and we're not hitting that, nor does it appear likely that we will any time soon. While I considered reverting to the role of full-time consulting and training in order to fund development, this would have a detrimental effect on the product side of the company. Fulfilling all of these roles myself is a reasonable strategy when the software being produced is for a low number of private clients, or for myself. For a public, commercial product though I believe customers have an expectation of quality and focus that is unlikely to come from having a project lead spread thin. 

So, with the writing on the wall I have decided to refund all of our existing customers of SemTrax and to close down Persistence Labs. It's been fun, we've built useful technology, I've learned a lot, but now it's time for something new. I've yet to decide what will become of SemTrax; I would like to find some way to put it in the hands of anyone who wants it, but I'm not a huge fan of the "throw it over the wall" model of open-sourcing. Once I've figured that out I'll post an update on my personal blog.

In conclusion, thanks to all of our customers for their support, to Gabriel (the other primary contributor to SemTrax) and to the various friends who have provided advice and assistance over the past 3 years. Onwards!