Agenda's "Cash Cow" Sales Model

Many threads here have mentioned Agenda’s sales model. One of the developer team, Drew McCormack, recent wrote a Medium post describing how the “Cash Cow” model (their term) works, and the success the Agenda team has had in using it. Interesting read – and, from Agenda’s perspective, it is not a subscription model.


Seems like a high tech version of the old pay for major version updates (unless you bought within the past N days) and you get all minor updates until the next major update. So for programs that update on a regular, say annual, basis it works out the same. Certainly not the subscription model or even the pay an annual support/maintenance fee model.

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I like this hybrid model. What ever you paid while you were a paying subscriber you retain them for ever. Not loosing entire access if you drop subscription.

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The best part of that model is that bug fixes still get sent to all users and not just paying users. I think from a support side that has to be really helpful. I like trying out apps to see if they fit in my workflow.

There’s simplicity from a user standpoint that you don’t feel like you’re paying for something that isn’t giving you enough value. From a dev standpoint, you can just have the most current app with bug fixes.

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I can’t really think of many apps nowadays that update annually. It would be interesting to know that answer in the macOS sphere.

That’s intriguing. I’ve been familiar with Agenda’s business model since they launched, but it never occurred to me that it might just be a minor change on the same business model consumer software has always used.

Reminds me of a comment by the founder of the Pinboard bookmarking service. He said his business model is he provides a useful service, keeps costs down, charges a little more than it costs to run, and uses the leftovers to invest in the business and live on. IOW, it’s the same model that businesses have used for 10,000 years. And yet business journalists wanted to interview him like he’s some kind of maverick.

I think this is the same as Eastgate’s Tinderbox model, only TB has fewer features added. It’s generally once a year that he does a big release, and you get updates, all for only $90/year.

Tinderbox has had 19 releases in 18 months, beginning with the current major release version 8. A major release is more like every 20-22 months on the average, but smaller features are regularly released – mainly in response to user input.


I also like that you can get the iOS version only for a lower cost. I did that when they released a full-sized image attachment with their premium unlock. I haven’t bought a year again after that bit if a new premium feature that I like in the future comes out, I’d probably buy again.

On the Mac, most of the major photo editing apps are on annual update cycles (Capture One, On1, DXO, ACDSee off the top of my head). All demand a significant update fee (no free updates, no bug fixes once the new version is released). Some offer a subscription as an alternative.

Tinderbox operates in the same way as Agenda - pay for a year of updates or stick with your current version,