June ThinkUp Update
Hi ThinkUp community!
Gina and I have been working hard on launching ThinkUp as a company, and we wanted to update you on where we are and what’s happened since we last asked you to help us with the effort by supporting our Knight News Challenge application.
ThinkUp as a company:
- We’re actively working on getting funding for ThinkUp now. Reading the tea leaves, it looks like ThinkUp will probably not be one of the Knight Foundation’s News Challenge grantees (despite our awesome community’s passionate support!). That’s not too surprising — they may have correctly assumed that ThinkUp is so far along that it’ll be successful whether they sponsored it or not. Still, we’re very thankful for the community’s support, and for Knight’s extremely open and inspiring process for participating in the News Challenge, which helped us clarify our direction.
- A little more background on our fundraising: We don’t want a ton of money or to become a giant company, we’re just looking to fund steady, organic growth for ThinkUp, and to hire a team of designers and developers who can be dedicated to its success. Hiring those folks would still be dependent on our getting funding, but of course this community will be the first to know if and when those opportunities arise.
- All of the people we’ve talked to have been impressed by our community, excited about the product vision (see below) and extremely enthusiastic about the fact we’re proudly an open source, community-driven effort.
- We’ll try to keep you in the loop on as much as we can talk about while still being prudent in making business decisions. We’re proud that so much of ThinkUp’s development happens out in the open, and we want ThinkUp as a company to evolve the same way.
What we’ve done so far:
- Our biggest announcement is that Gina & I have begun the process of buying ThinkUp.com. While it wasn’t cheap, we’re committed to making this great app approachable for normal web users, and a clear .com domain name is an important part of that. Fortunately, the previous owners of ThinkUp.com believe in our community’s mission, too, and were willing to work with us.
- We’ve moved the official ThinkUp blog to http://blog.thinkupapp.com/ so that it’s easy to follow on ThinkUp and encourages lots of reblogging. (Hint, hint!)
- We’ve also done all the basic work to incorporate ThinkUp LLC, a new New York-based company dedicated to advancing the product and the community, and Gina and I are the co-founders, splitting everything 50-50.
Update on ThinkUp’s product roadmap:
- And of course, the most fun part: We’re hard at work on a new vision for ThinkUp 2.0 that’s both vastly streamlined for users and far more powerful as a framework for developers. We’ll be sharing much more details about the product vision here shortly, as soon as we get the basic concept polished up a bit.
- DON’T FREAK OUT. There are going to be changes to the way ThinkUp looks and works. Nothing’s permanent yet or set in stone. But we do think there are a few big changes that need to happen for ThinkUp, primarily around making a product that people passionately want to use every day. We know that our awesome community is not the kind of crazy software people who get mad when a few pixels are rearranged on a screen, but we wanted to be extremely clear ahead of time that changes are coming so that everybody has a chance to give feedback.
- Hey, Foursquare! Keep an eye out for the next major (non-bugfix) release of ThinkUp, which will have the first implementation of a Foursquare plugin to gather your data from that popular network, thanks to Aaron. We’ll talk more about the timing of this as we get closer to release.
The truth is, as much as we love and are proud of what ThinkUp has been as a product so far, it’s not yet the kind of app that most of us are checking as often as we look at our Twitter streams or our Facebook feeds. But we think ThinkUp can be just as compelling as those apps while keeping the principles and technical goals that have gotten us this far.
Put another way, a lot of us spend more time telling people “you ought to use ThinkUp” than we do actually using the app ourselves. We think we can translate all of our good intentions into a product that’s easier to get started with, use every day, and hack on as desired.