Axosoft slashes the price of its bug tracker, gives proceeds to software grants

By Dan Raile , written on April 21, 2014

From The News Desk

Tracking actual bugs in Arizona is a risky, if not downright dangerous, business. According to the University of Arizona College of Agriculture and Life Sciences website, “Perhaps more species of potentially dangerous invertebrates inhabit Arizona than any other state.”

By comparison, the business of tracking software bugs in Arizona is considerably less dangerous -- to the point where it seems local companies are having to invent their own risks, just to keep thing interesting...

Enter Scottsdale-based Axosoft which has thrown caution to the wind, announcing that its (software) bug tracker will now cost just $1. Formerly the developer tool was sold at $70 per year per team member, but now CEO Hamid Shojaee has decided to all but give it away – the nominal dollar price exists just create a credit card barrier against would-be junk accounts.

GigaOm’s Barb Darrow reported earlier this week that the move is essentially an “eyebrow-raising ploy” to lure software developer teams away from competitor bug trackers and funnel them towards Axosoft’s flagship products, Axosoft Scrum (which from 2002 through this Monday was known in both hosted and installed versions as Ontime. Only the installed product now retains the Ontime name.)

If the word ‘scrum’ triggers imagery of knee-socks and backsides, allow me to disambiguate.

Scrum is essentially a project management strategy for software development teams that helps them stay agile and efficient as they scale. Shojaee developed the erstwhile Ontime as a side project in 2002 when he was working as a consultant for Microsoft. He developed the software himself to help with his own projects, but soon realized it could be useful to others, left his Microsoft gig and founded Axosoft.

Today the company includes Disney, Intel, the U.S. Army, Lego and EA Sports among its 10,000 customers. Axosoft Scrum claims to be “the #1 Scrum product in the world.”

As Darrow noted, there is something of a price war happening of late in the bug tracker space. With his announcement, Shojaee appears to have set off a bomb.

But wait, there’s more. With the money collected through all those nominal $1 fees, Axosoft is setting up a fund to deliver no-strings, $10,000 grants to startup software development teams. To apply for these grants, interested teams need to be less than two years old and have less than 10 employees.

Axosoft itself grew organically and has never taken funding, which allows Shojaee says allows it to stay flexible and change direction without having to clear decisions with a Board of Directors. Today the company has approximately 40 employees and recently set up an incubator, AZ Disruptors, adjacent to its offices, which are just a five-minute drive down Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd. from the TPC Scottsdale Golf Course.

The $1 Bug Tracker repricing also coincides with the launch of Axosoft’s ScrumHub, where interested developers can learn the basics of scrum without any fees or registration.

When I spoke with Shojaee over the phone last week, he grew wistful talking about Axosoft’s underlying philosophy. “Software touches every part of our lives. We want to make sure the next generation of developers have all the tools they need to succeed.”

Axosoft is banking on a price-slashing model in the heady enterprise of providing pickaxes and shovels to the teeming wave of today’s would-be gold miners.

[Image credit: NapInterrupted (Creative Commons)]