Yesterday, I wrote about my experiences on the current IMS Studying Impression Leadership Institute. At this time, I’ll write a few sentence that I heard uttered several occasions while at that summit. One that I have been expecting to hear for almost a yr now.
“Instructure is the brand new Blackboard.”
It isn’t the first time I’ve heard that sentence, nevertheless it has reached important mass. I have recognized it was coming since last Instructurecon. I wrote a blog publish particularly to organize for this solely predictable moment. It has lastly arrived.
And now it’s time to clarify why no one should ever say “X is the brand new Blackboard” about any firm ever once more.
Predicting the inevitable
I have typically characterized Instructure’s first decade of customer relations as “gravity-defying.” A few times, I’ve had individuals challenge me on the blog about that characterization. “Why are you rooting for them to fail?” they might ask. But I wasn’t. I used to be merely observing that gravity exists, and no one can defy the legal guidelines of physics eternally. What goes up ultimately comes down. And in ed tech, any fall is a fall from grace. As a rule, educators are distrustful of ed tech corporations, are really distrustful of huge ones, and are bitterly resentful of corporations that disappoint them. Sooner or later, Instructure must slip from abnormally good and revert to mean. And when that occurred, there can be blowback.
It was clear that moment had arrived at Instructurecon 2018 because Instructure was not capable of pull off the inconceivable. Josh Coates keynotes ought to have been unimaginable. Josh is a brilliant, fascinating, thoughtful guy. He isn’t a superb keynote speaker. He rambles. He careens. He talks about what he cares about, and what he thinks you need to care about, however does not give numerous thought to what you assume it is advisable hear from him. And yet, one way or the other, his Instructurecon keynotes got here off as charming and interesting. No one cared that he stated not one damned factor about anything that every other LMS company CEO would have been shredded by their clients for not overlaying. He was like some funhouse mirror version of Mr. Rogers.
Until 2018, when his keynote was a disaster. It wasn’t simply that the quirky appeal did not work this time. Josh offended multiple teams within the viewers. What goes up must ultimately come down.
Then there was Josh’s hearth chat with Dan Goldsmith, then the newly announced President. It was apparent to Phil and me that Dan was being introduced to the purchasers because he can be CEO within a yr. Gravity-defying Instructure would have by some means magically helped the viewers understand that they have been being launched to the road of succession while being reassured that things have been steady-as-she-goes. However that may have been a near-impossible feat to tug off, and the Instructure of 2018 walked on the earth like you and me. So the viewers response was, principally, “Uh, he seems nice, but why do I want to listen to about how he was an Uber driver for some time?”
There have been additionally smaller indicators, and different information from which one might draw inferences. There was the small however noticeable discount in spending on the conference. There was the growing strain from the stock marketplace for Instructure to grow their sales of Bridge to firms. The dominos had already started falling, and the sample was set for the subsequent ones to fall in a sure order:
- Josh would go away soon. Other executives and senior managers would probably depart as properly. Some would go because that they had had a very good run and have been ready to maneuver on. Others would go as a result of Dan would need to put his own staff in place.
- Instructure was built around Josh, who’s an idiosyncratic leader. It was also built to sell to greater schooling. As a way to retool it in order that it’s one thing that may run nicely beneath Dan’s leadership fashion and sell into larger schooling, Okay12, and the corporate market, many issues would have to change internally. Individuals would transfer round. Some individuals would go away. Others would arrive. Processes would change.
- All of this might be distracting to people who find themselves making an attempt to do their jobs. Issues inevitably would fall via the cracks. Some of those issues can be necessary to some clients. Those clients would discover.
- All of this uncertainty would inevitably create some trepidation among the staff, even when the brand new management handles the state of affairs superbly. The very fact is that when individuals are not positive what their job is or how they can be profitable at it, which is inevitable in this type of surroundings of change, they have a tendency to maintain their heads down till they figure it out. They could not challenge selections that they assume are on the mistaken monitor.
- In the meantime, a number of the new senior management, crucially including the CEO, have been new to schooling and wouldn’t know where the landmines are. And there are various, many landmines. It would not matter how sensible the brand new individuals are. It wouldn’t matter how respectable and type they are. Since they wouldn’t know the place the landmines are, and their individuals can be possible too nervous or distracted to warn them, then eventually they might step on one.
In March of this yr, Dan Goldsmith stated this:
What’s even more fascinating and compelling is that we will take that info, correlate it across all types of universities, curricula, and so on, and we will start making recommendations and ideas to the scholar or teacher in how they are often extra successful. Watch this video, read this passage, do issues 17-34 on this textbook, spend an additional two hours on this or that. Once we drive scholar success, we influence issues like retention, we influence the productivity of the academics, and it’s an enormous alternative. That’s just one small instance.
Our DIG initiative, it’s at the start a platform for ML and AI, and we’ll ship and monetize it by providing totally different useful domains of predictive algorithms and insights. Perhaps issues like scholar success, retention, teaching and advising, career pathing, as well as a variety of the other metrics that may assist enhance the worth of an establishment or connectivity across institutions. [snip]
We have gone by way of sufficient cycles so far to have demonstrable outcomes round enhancing outcomes with students and enhancing scholar success. [snip] I hope to have one thing a minimum of in beta by the top of this yr.
That quote is pulled from Phil’s contemporaneous submit on the statement, the place he then goes on to reference the “robotic tutor within the sky.” However Dan in all probability would not have gotten that reference, as a result of he wasn’t within the business at the time that former Knewton CEO Jose Ferreira made it. Consequently, his personal statement, which was predictably explosive to Phil and me, in all probability seemed someplace between anodyne and thrilling to him.
So. You’ve got an ed tech firm that has spectacularly over-performed for a decade. Their performance slips, to not horror show levels, however to ranges the place some clients are noticeably sad. The company management makes a tone deaf assertion or two about unreleased merchandise that we really do not know that much about.
And that’s all it takes to turn out to be a fallen angel in larger schooling ed tech. There’s doubtless no means that staff at Instructure who have solely ever labored at that one ed tech firm might have recognized that to be true prematurely of getting skilled it. There’s possible no approach that executives coming in from outdoors of ed tech might have recognized that to be true without having skilled it either. Because it does not make sense. But it’s true. Instructure’s brand was destined to crash onerous precisely as a result of it was so good. That’s the way it works in ed tech. Cynics are disillusioned optimists, and we’ve a whole lot of these.
However why, specifically, “the brand new Blackboard?” It isn’t the primary time I’ve heard that phrase used about a company. And really, it is unfair to both Instructure and Blackboard. Actually, once I wrote in my final publish about how some corporations that was limitations to interoperability work now are amongst its most necessary champions, I was specifically considering of Blackboard. The complaints I’ve had about them in recent times have been associated to (1) making an attempt to spin their financial challenges and (2) struggling to execute properly during a very robust transition. In different words, completely normal company stuff. At the moment’s Blackboard is probably not good, but it’s principally an honest firm. In the ethical sense.
This sector has a lingering revulsion for a model of a company that ceased to exist in 2012–at the newest—and yet continues to loom as a shadow over the complete vendor area, creating a way of ever-present unconscious dread. It’s like having a lifelong worry of clowns from one thing that occurred at a circus if you have been three years previous however which you could not keep in mind.
It’s time to keep in mind.
The private as parable
As I described in a current publish, my public debates with Blackboard over their patent assertion are something of an origin story for e-Literate. There’s a lot concerning the story that I’ll tell now—some of it for the first time on the blog—that is turned personal as a result of certain parties at Blackboard selected to make it personal. All through that period, and thru my writing since, I have tried to maintain e-Literate professional and targeted only on particulars which might be value sharing insofar as they advance the public good. I’ve not all the time succeeded in that aspiration, however it is very important me to attempt.
Immediately I choose to share some actions that have been taken towards me because I feel it is very important perceive how really dangerous actors behave. These aren’t the kinds of actions that either Instructure or at this time’s Blackboard would take. If the sector goes to enhance, then we have to get better at distinguishing between dangerous conduct, which may have quite a lot of causes and may be corrected by means of engagement, and really dangerous actors, with whom there might be no negotiating. In my experience, really dangerous actors are uncommon.
So I’ll share some private experiences later on this blog, however I’ll attempt to hold this as minimally private as I can. When attainable, I’ll keep away from naming names, despite the fact that some of you will know who I am speaking about. I will share some details but not others. What I ask you to consider as you learn my portion of the story isn’t what happened to me or who did what however how what happened then is qualitatively totally different from what is occurring now.
The previous Blackboard
The interval of Blackboard’s history that I’m speaking about is specifically from roughly 1999 to roughly 2012 (or 2009, relying on the way you mark the top of the period). During this era, the corporate rigorously developed a rigorously crafted and extremely successful business strategy. First, they have been pioneers in the software rental business. You did not own Blackboard software program, even in case you ran it by yourself servers. You paid an annual license payment. I can not say that Blackboard invented this technique—I’m unsure who did; it may need been Oracle—but Blackboard definitely drove it deep into the schooling sector.
This might be a handsomely worthwhile enterprise model, notably if they might maintain market share and keep pricing energy. Which brings us to the second leg of their strategy. Blackboard sought to dominate ed tech product classes by shopping for up each vendor within the category as quickly because it reached vital market share. This is how that appeared in the LMS product category:
- In 2000, they acquired MadDuck Applied sciences, which made Net Course in a Field
- In 2002, it was George Washington College’s Prometheus
- In 2006, WebCT (which had spun out of College of British Columbia however had been unbiased for a while)
- In 2009, ANGEL Learning from IUPUI
- In 2012, after reportedly failing to purchase Moodle Pty, the corporate purchased Moodlerooms and NetSpot, the most important Moodle partners within the US and Australia respectively
The rationale that Phil’s well-known LMS market share graphic is known as the “squid graph” is because Blackboard shaped the body by constantly gobbling up rivals as they shaped.
In every case besides Moodle, Blackboard would kill off the acquired platform after acquisition. They weren’t really trying to purchase know-how. To the contrary; they didn’t need the expense of maintaining multiple platforms and showed virtually no curiosity any of the technical innovation until after the ANGEL acquisition, when Ray Henderson started driving a number of the product strategy for them. Quite, Blackboard was focused on acquiring clients. They knew that a few of those clients would go away—in reality, a few of these clients had already left Blackboard beforehand to the platform that was now being acquired—but that was OK. Because by maintaining competition low and rivals underneath a sure measurement, Blackboard was actually controlling pricing power. LMS license fees have been, not coincidentally, significantly costlier throughout this era than they are at this time.
There was one firm—Desire2Learn—that represented an growing menace to Blackboard however would not sell. So Blackboard tried a special tactic, which we’ll come to somewhat later in this narrative.
Blackboard tried an identical trick of domination by way of acquisition, somewhat less successfully, within the net conference area by simultaneously shopping for Wimba and Elluminate, which have been two of the most important education-specific net conferencing platforms on the time. If there hadn’t been an explosion of low cost and wonderful generic net conferencing solutions quickly afterward, it may need labored.
Blackboard did not actually think about itself a software improvement company during this era and was not afraid to say so explicitly to clients. I used to be informed this by a Blackboard consultant, and I know of 1 ePortfolio firm that was advised the identical thing. They started up particularly as a result of Blackboard’s response to them once they asked as university clients if Blackboard would an build ePortfolio was, “We do not actually develop software program, but when you realize of any good ePortfolio corporations, we’d think about acquiring one.”
Blackboard did have an inner product improvement technique of types, albeit an anemic one. Corporations perceive that it’s easier (and cheaper) to promote a second product to an present buyer than a first product to a new buyer. In order that they typically develop a portfolio of services to “cross-sell” to those present shoppers. In and of itself, there’s completely nothing mistaken with that. And like many corporations, Blackboard had a method for how many products they needed to cross-sell with a purpose to hit their monetary objectives. Once more, that is pretty normal stuff. The objectionable half was the best way through which that formulation drove the product street map.
The quintessential instance of this was Blackboard Group. Needless to say the LMS originated when universities started taking generic groupware (like Lotus Notes, for example) and adding schooling particular options like a grade guide and a homework drop field. Blackboard’s concept was to strip those education-specific features again out of the product and license it individually to make use of for clubs, committees, and so on. I’m positive it wasn’t quite that straightforward from a improvement perspective, nevertheless it wasn’t very far off. Take the product you’ve got already bought to the client, strip out some options, combine the stripped down model with the original model—badly—and promote it to the client a second time.
Blackboard also had epically dangerous customer support. Far worse than any of the LMS vendors immediately. To be clear, there have been individuals at Blackboard who worked their butts off to serve their clients. There are all the time good individuals at sufficiently giant corporations. There were individuals in Blackboard—on their improvement groups, in customer service, and in different elements of the company—who tried desperately exhausting to serve their clients properly. However the company’s processes weren’t optimized for customer support, and it did not spend money on customer support. One can solely conclude that customer support was not a precedence of government administration, regardless of the line staff might have felt about it.
The patent go well with
As I discussed earlier, Desire2Learn was turning into a thorn in Blackboard’s aspect. However Blackboard’s administration group was creating a legal technique that they thought would complement their acquisition technique, especially in instances the place pesky entrepreneurs would not sell. They started submitting for patents. Now, software patents are an unlucky actuality in our world. I do not like them, however since they exist, I perceive why some corporations really feel the need to have them. That stated, Blackboard’s intentions have been neither for defensive functions nor for demonstrating durable worth to buyers. They meant to say their patents towards different corporations.
In industries like prescription drugs or electronics, where innovation takes considerable funding up entrance but yields vital, long-term income afterward, the economics can help patent assertion. There’s sufficient cash flowing in the system that there’s a minimum of a believable argument that paying the inventor a licensing payment incentivizes investment in innovation. But schooling just isn’t that type of market, and the LMS product class particularly has thin margins. If new LMS distributors had to pay patent royalties, there probably wouldn’t have been new LMS distributors.
Blackboard acquired a patent for LMS functionality, the precise definition of which I will get to momentarily. They instantly asserted that patent towards Desire2Learn. They in all probability expected the company to fold and comply with both pay the royalty or sell. Corporations often do not battle patents. If Desire2Learn had folded, that may have given Blackboard’s patent added authorized weight. And Blackboard had other patents it had filed. There was each indication that they have been trying to create what known as a “patent thicket,” successfully making it unattainable to convey a brand new product to market without operating into one or one other of their patents. If that they had succeeded, they might have owned the LMS market eternally.
They might have killed the LMS market.
And what was Blackboard’s first patent? What was their supposed innovation?
A system the place a consumer might log into one course as an teacher and another as a scholar.
That is it.
Once I discovered enough about easy methods to learn a patent to figure that out, I couldn’t consider it. And that is the place Blackboard began preventing with me. Nevertheless it was all non-denial denials. There’s a second in the authorized strategy of a patent struggle where the courtroom determines the scope of the patent. Before that, legally speaking, the patent is undefined. So when Blackboard pushed again towards my posts, all they have been really saying was that the courtroom hadn’t spoken yet.
When the two corporations faced one another in courtroom and argued for his or her definition of the scope of the patent, what did Blackboard argue was the scope of their patent?
A system the place a consumer might log into one course as an instructor and one other as a scholar.
Blackboard did not like me writing stuff like that. They—the place “they” means specific executives who I choose to not mention by identify, relatively than some hive mind of every human working on the firm—did not prefer it once I referred to as them out on it prematurely. They usually actually didn’t like it once I identified afterward that that they had been deceptive at greatest in their earlier statements about what they believed the scope of the patent to be.
What involved me was that their repeatedly calling attention to my writing by arguing with me in public was irrational. I used to be comparatively unknown till they started responding to me. This type of common unforced error was out of character. It was telling me…something. What was it telling me? Probably the most logical rationalization was that I had gotten beneath their skin. I had cause to suspect that they have been the type of people that didn’t have a high tolerance for being challenged. That might be dangerous.
So long as I used to be working at SUNY, I used to be protected. They could have been irrationally targeted on me, but they weren’t stupid. They weren’t about to attack a university worker. Nevertheless, once I turned an Oracle worker, I used to be involved that things would get ugly.
I used to be right.
What ugly seems like
Once I was provided the job at Oracle, I had a conversation with my potential manager concerning the Blackboard state of affairs. I advised him that I assumed the patent assertion was a menace to the health of the sector, that I did not intend to cease writing about it, and that it was attainable that Blackboard would come after me as soon as I used to be not working for a university. He replied that he respected my proper to proceed writing so long as I made clear on the weblog that my opinions have been my very own—which I did, scrupulously—but that if the politics reached above a certain degree in the group, then his potential to guard me would have its limits. We agreed that it will be unlucky if that have been to occur, we each understood and respected the other’s position, and we agreed to offer it a go. Nothing ventured and all that.
It didn’t take lengthy. I was at a Blackboard reception at EDUCAUSE when one of many executives approached me and started a dialog about my posts. “You already know, I wouldn’t complain to Oracle about it. I might never do this. I respect your independence. However this is not good for the connection between our two corporations.”
That’s a nice shiny new job you bought there, kid. It might be disgrace if something have been to, you already know. Occur to it.
I stored writing.
Not many months after that, the identical government, within the presence of my manager, sat down subsequent to my colleague and began complaining to her about me. Repeatedly. Incessantly. To the purpose where my supervisor needed to bodily interpose himself between the chief and my colleague as a way to shield her from what he perceived to be harassment. At which point, the chief began complaining to my supervisor about me.
It had the other of the meant effect. My manager was very protecting of his individuals.
I stored writing.
Not all the writing was damaging, by the best way. For instance, when Blackboard’s Chief Authorized Counsel showed up at a Sakai convention to debate the Free Software program Foundation’s Eben Moglen on the merits of the patent, I argued each that Blackboard’s consultant had been unfairly treated and that it was essential to continue to attempt to work with the company constructively on the larger patent drawback if at all potential.
However, Blackboard continued what I can only describe as a widening and escalating marketing campaign persuade my employer to either silence me or remove me. They have been specifically advised that I was unwelcome at Blackboard hosted occasions. The message was clear: Feldstein is harming Oracle’s relationship with Blackboard. And if that weren’t clear enough, I started being approached by random Oracle staff. The dialog would go like this:
Have you learnt [Blackboard employee name redacted]?
Yeah, I do know him. Why?
Nicely I don’t, however he simply got here up to me at BbWorld and began complaining to me about how you’re harming Blackboard’s relationship with Oracle.
That very same Blackboard employee accosted me at an IMS meeting, actually yelling at me, telling me that he had virtually convinced his bosses to undertake the brand new version of the LIS commonplace we have been creating—the one that was going to save lots of universities money and time by getting rid of the necessity to manually monitor the mixing between the registrar software and the LMS—but they killed it once they learn my latest blog publish.
A Blackboard government all but confirmed this in a later meeting. He appeared me in the eye, with my manager present, and requested, “Why ought to we adopt Oracle’s normal?”
I stored writing.
Subsequent, the Blackboard government determined to go up a number of levels in the meals chain. He advised my manager’s supervisor’s manager that he was having Blackboard clients coming into his office in response to my weblog posts and asking why Oracle hates Blackboard. This intervention too had the other of the meant impact. My manager’s supervisor’s supervisor did not consider for one second that folks have been complicated my personal blog posts with Oracle’s official position on Blackboard.
In any case of that, and a few extra that I am not going to write down about here, Blackboard lost the patent go well with. They took a $three.3 million write-down for it. However that’s nothing compared to the precise loss, which the corporate continues to be paying as we speak. If individuals are still using the sentence “X is the new Blackboard,” do you assume there’s any means that Blackboard itself is just not nonetheless paying for the injury completed by administration that left the company seven years ago? Many people on this sector nonetheless hate that company with a fiery ardour, and some of them don’t even know why anymore.
Now, ask your self this: Does what I just described bear any relation to the conduct of any firm that you understand of in ed tech at present? Instructure? Blackboard? Anyone? I can assume of some that I might characterize as on the spectrum of dangerous actors. All of them are in immature product categories, the place there’s less transparency, more hype, and subsequently extra room for con artists. Jose Ferreira from Knewton was a nasty actor in that he harmed our potential to have a productive dialogue concerning the utility of adaptive learning or machine studying by means of his unsubstantiated hype (and the fundraising he did off it). But he did not do anything I’m aware of that rose to the extent of anything like what I’ve described right here. The robot tutor hype rip-off, and the new variation the place distributors start claiming that each one their rivals are robotic tutor rip-off artists, are the primary risks in the intervening time. Something AI-related nonetheless has some hazard in it, as does the OPM area. But the dangerous actors I can think of are principally little league in comparison with the Corridor of Fame dangerous actors at previous Blackboard.
Instructure is the brand new Instructure
Organizations change. Instructure modifications. Blackboard modifications. Your college modifications. Your division modifications. Change occurs. Change is tough. Mistakes happen through the stress of transition. And what comes out the other aspect shouldn’t be all the time predictable. Nevertheless it typically may be influenced.
Once I wrote my submit within the wake of Instructurecon 2018, I knew that it won’t make a ton of sense within the second to either clients or staff of the corporate. So loads of it was written in a approach that might hopefully be memorable…I do not know…perhaps eleven months later, when the story had played out sufficient that we might have a real dialog about it.
This is the necessary bit:
Instructure’s unbelievably long age of innocence might lastly be coming to an finish. That does not mean that it will fail or to grow to be the subsequent ed tech company that everyone hates. It does mean that it’s beginning to go through some modifications, that some of those modifications might be awkward and exhausting, and that the company will ultimately develop up to turn out to be somewhat totally different than it has been. Not necessarily higher or worse. However essentially totally different.
So perhaps you do not like a number of the things that they’ve been doing (or not doing) these days. Now what? You possibly can attempt partaking with them. OK, perhaps you tried that and didn’t get the outcomes you needed. Keep in mind that prolonged metaphor concerning the awkward teenage years in my unique submit? I used to show eighth graders, and I’ve raised youngsters of my own. One speak often does not do it through the difficult durations. Not as a result of they do not care about you, but because it is simply actually onerous being a young person. You are overloaded. The whole lot is changing directly, and you’re just making an attempt to get via the day. If an adolescent responds badly in the second, it doesn’t suggest that they seem to be a dangerous individual, and even that they are not listening. It often signifies that they’re coping with extra than just you.
A company isn’t an adolescent; it’s a group of adults who you pay to do things for you. However, it’s also a gaggle of humans who can experience change, individually and collectively, and who can have all of the reactions that humans do to vary and stress and all that stuff.
These organizational transitions don’t end up over night time. Dan’s been CEO for lower than a yr now. Next month shall be his first Instructurecon as CEO. He is still within the steep part of his studying curve. Will he be an excellent CEO? I do not know. I barely know the man. You in all probability barely know the man too. His staff are starting to get to know the man by now. They’re figuring it out.
Perhaps you are feeling like you possibly can’t interact with Instructure as a result of different individuals in your college “own” that relationship, and also you’re relatively powerless.
Properly, that’s a special kind of drawback, is not it? I’ve written earlier than about how dangerous LMS vendor conduct and dangerous LMS product improvement are actively pushed by dangerous college LMS procurement processes. These inner conversations are exhausting ones to have, and typically the individuals who see the problems usually are not able to pressure the conversation. But finally, the distributors have to answer no matter types of interactions the schools invite them to have (or don’t). It is value taking some time to know why the distributors are considering and appearing the best way they’re so to discover some productive methods into the dialog.
And by the best way, these vendors do read what you write. Heck, we stay in an period the place we decide the President of america on Twitter and Fb. You assume these corporations do not read your posts? They damned nicely do. They could be constrained in how they respond, however they do concentrate. How do you assume I do what I do? I’m just a dude with a weblog. How did I get myself into all the trouble you just examine? By being a dude with a blog. Turns out that utilizing your voice could be a highly effective thing, notably if think twice about who you need to hear you and the way you want them to react. Yes, I do beat on distributors in public typically. But I all the time do it with a selected intention to make one thing happen. It is probably not obvious in the moment, but it’s all the time there. You possibly can speak to these distributors and be heard, notably if in case you have that intent and if they assume that you are also listening.
If you would like your vendors to be better, it isn’t that totally different from making an attempt to get your youngsters to be higher, or any humans with which you need to have a real relationship to be higher. That was really the purpose of my unique blog publish. Speak to them, take heed to them, interact with them. It doesn’t suggest it’s a must to allow them to walk throughout you, nevertheless it does imply you shouldn’t assume you understand what they’re considering or that they’re pressure of nature that can’t be influenced. In case you’re studying e-Literate, then you definitely’re in all probability an educator of some type. Be an educator. Use that.
Instructure is changing. I do not know what they’re becoming yet. You don’t know either. I might guess money that Instructure does not know yet. And this is not really nearly Instructure. They are the case research of the moment. The point is, distributors make their money by responding to the circumstances created by the college ecosystem. That’s you and your colleagues. If you would like higher distributors, then create the circumstances beneath which they will succeed by behaving within the methods in which you’d want them to behave. That’s arduous work, and it might contain some household therapy inside your house establishment. However the various is living in perpetual worry of clowns. And that, my buddies, is not any solution to stay.