This "announcement" will not come as much of a surprise to anyone who has been paying attention to my chess activities, coming as it does more than a year late. I started doing occasional ChessTV shows as time permitted last year, including the 2016 Chesskid Online National Invitational Championship (which I'll be reprising June 2-4 this year), recorded a couple video series, and most recently was a regular host for the PRO Chess League. Nevertheless, I thought it worthwhile to say a bit about where I've been and why I'm excited to be shifting some of my energies back to Chess.com.
I love personality tests (hence this chess personality idea), and surprise, surprise, several tests over the years have suggested that I be a teacher. As it turns out, I've been substitute teaching preK-8th grade this past year, and it's been a blast. I was taking one day off per week to stream chess, and then PRO Chess League started and that got even more fun, and now I'm reconsidering how much time to put into school teaching and how much to put into Chess.com.
I'm excited about...
Profit-share at Chess.com! Since 2015, the company has been dividing 2% of profits among its non-owner employees at the end of the year. I think this is both fantastic and important. Fantastic because it gives employees an additional stake in the success of the enterprise (having a job, and creating a great chess site are two others), and because it acknowledges the sense of ownership that an employee could and should have in the projects they realize, and because it moves towards a greater sharing of wealth rather than concentration. Important, in my view, because the status quo in the world seems to be seriously risking environmental catastrophe and ever worse wars, so it is important that we try out different things, and strive to make the world better in every aspect of our activities. If you are confused and interested about the tenuous connection between a bit of sharing and averting global disasters, feel free to send me a message to discuss :-). In any case, I personally am beyond thrilled about Chess.com showing a better way of doing business!
Chess.com Mission going strong. It is a common simplification that the goal of a for-profit is profit and the goal of a non-profit is its mission. However, most non-profits also have financial goals, and many companies also have a mission. How valuable the mission, and how dedicated the decision-makers are to this mission, is crucial. Chess.com's mission has been "to be the best chess everything website and community," and this mission is more alive than ever. Regardless of past successes, everyone seems to always have new ideas to provide better educational tools, better service to members, better opportunities for chess professionals, and to connect an ever larger community. And the company is choosing to continue investing in these rather than maximizing profits.
PRO Chess League! More generally, I'm excited about the success of ChessTV special events. The blitz matches that started 5+ years ago with Danny and I playing a ton of bullet, have morphed into the Speed Chess Champs with players like Carlsen, Nakamura, Vachier-Lagrave, and Grischuk; 50,000 in prizes; and 200,000 fans. The PRO Chess League is the latest huge event on Chess.com, again with the best players in the world, 50k in prizes, and tons of fans. Chess.com has had the desire for many years to come up with successful chess entertainment, but now it seems like another big push is coming with improved streaming technology, the rise of Esports, and Chess.com having more determination and resources to put into this project. It seems like one of my dreams is about to materialize, and I want to be there for it!
I want to work with aspiring chess broadcasters so we can all elevate our game. I want to try out different special events, and discover more formulas for thrilling chessTV. I want to work on other educational and reality-style chess shows. And I want to work on making all this sustainable, by working on sponsorship, partnerships, and business models, e.g. for PRO League franchises.
ChessKid has tons of Chess Kids! It is super exciting to me that ChessKid has a ton of members now. This motivates me even further to want to make excellent kid-oriented content.
Chess.com becoming increasingly International! I love the mixing of cultures, and I love foreign languages. Chess.com has taken great strides from being a U.S. and English-focused website to being available in dozens of languages, and then having content in other languages. I'd love to help keep that expansion going, and to do some French or German commentary along the way! (I'll be doing the Karjakin-Meier SCC match May 24, 10 am Pacific).
There are other things I'm excited about too, like Chess.com having become the leader in Chess News, but I don't want this to start sounding like an ad. I just wanted to say "hi again," and hit me up with *your* possibly brilliant ideas for chess.com content-- or feedback on what we are doing-- and I look forward to seeing you around!