It's been a while since I last wrote about "Building Chess.com", and I thought today would be a good day to post :)
As most of you know, we (Jay and I) first started working on Chess.com in 2005. We had the vision and we thought we had the know-how. Turns out we had a little of each :D and have learned a lot along the way. (You can read more about all of the ups and downs of Chess.com here: http://www.chess.com/news_/search.html?keyword=building) It was very experimental in the beginning - new technologies (ajax and "web 2.0"), new ideas (social networking and online communities), new jobs (quitting stable jobs!), new everything. And, as was customary, we threw the "BETA" tag onto our logo to let people know "Hey, we're experimenting here, so use at your own risk!".
Today we removed the BETA :)
Want to know why?
First off, we're huge. Seriously. I don't mean to say this in a boasting way, but the fact is we get more people visiting Chess.com than any other chess website. Why do so many people come? Well, the "Chess.com" name of course. And the fact that we are #1 in Google/Yahoo for "chess". But the biggest reason we are huge is that a lot of people who check out Chess.com decide to make it their chess home. As the top chess site in the world, we think we're earned our way out of "BETA".
Secondly, we're fun. We have more features than 10 other websites put together. In fact, if I had to do it over I would have half as many :D But almost anyone who enjoys chess on any level can find what they want on Chess.com. From playing (7 different ways to play), to learning (8+ ways to learn), to reading, surveys, quizzes, trophies, forums... there is just so much to do. And frankly, it's fun! People spend a lot of time on Chess.com - I know I do! So, because we offer SOOO much and we think Chess.com is SOOOO fun, we think we're ready to leave BETA.
Thirdly, we're stable. The prospects of Chess.com were very uncertain at the beginning. We quit our jobs, poured in our life savings, told our wives to cross their fingers... and now after 1 year of offering memberships, we're now pretty sure we're going to make it. We can all breathe a little easier knowing that we can buy food and diapers for the kids! More importantly, we're more confident than ever that Chess.com is worth every penny of membership value (and probably 5x that). And because we're such a good value, we think we deserve more than BETA status.
Fourthly, we're excited. Yes, we've done a LOT in the last 3 years. But there is so much more to do! Our TOP TOP TOP priority for 2009 is making Live Chess better. Iwon't go into details here, but basically we're throwing a bunch of resources into Live Chess and are actually going to re-build the whole thing using everything that we have learned to date so that we can fix all of the performance issues that plague some players (notably people with slow connections and who are usingInternet Explorer - which is a lot of you!!). My bet is that Live Chess will be a crown jewel of Chess.com by mid-2009. In addition to Live Chess, we have so manymore things on the to-do list! Some are: your many suggestions, ladder play, professional videos, more professional articles, live event coverage, etc. So even though we have a lot more to do on Chess.com, we're way past BETA!
Finally, you're awesome. Yes, you. The Chess.com community. You are incredible! You have been so supportive in encouraging us, so helpful in your feedback, so giving of your time, so wonderful in spreading the word, so friendly in creating the largest online chess community, so... awesome. We don't think you're a BETA community anymore!
This is a new era for Chess.com! I'm so excited. We're no longer a dream or an experiment - we're real. I feel like today is the day that Pinocchio was transformed from being made of wood into a real boy :) We still have a lot more growing up to do and we'll never stop getting better, but today we're celebrating!
Thanks again to everyone for their support!
- Erik and the Chess.com Team
(To read more on "Building Chess.com" go here: http://www.chess.com/news_/search.html?keyword=building)