What would it take for a tech vendor to walk away from a customer?

Turning down business isn't an everyday occurrence, but for tech vendors there are situations where it's the best course of action, as Sooraj Shah finds out.

A new customer walks into a grocery store to buy a loaf of bread. They have the right money, and walk to the shopkeeper to pay for it, but the shopkeeper declines their business. Unheard of. In the technology business-to-business world, there is a far more complicated relationship between customer and vendor, meaning this kind of interaction - while still rare - does actually happen.

There are those instances which are well-documented such as hosting provider Cloudflare terminating the contract of forum 8chan. While these companies did not violate the terms of the contract, they "violated the spirit", according to Matthew Prince, Cloudflare's CEO, who added that it directly inspired tragic events, referring to three mass shooters uploading manifestos to the platform before going out and committing terror attacks.

Morals and the spirit of a contract are often used as a reason to stop working with another customer. For instance, David Friend, CEO of cloud storage provider Wasabi, says that the company doesn't charge for Egress or API requests, but that some customers have abused that privilege.

"I'd say that we've probably had three or four instances where someone will put a movie up on Wasabi and they'll send the link to it around the whole world, and with thousands of people trying to play the movie, and that's not really what Wasabi was designed to do, so we have to say to these customers ‘look we'll store your movie, but if you want to distribute it, you'll need a content distribution network (CDN), and here are three partners of ours that do that," he says.


Gaming the system

Friend suggests that Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud, like Wasabi, would monitor how customers are using their services and whether anyone would be trying to ‘game' the system.

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