Hard to believe, as I watch the snow fall here, that we have come to a year of Empire Avenue. What started out as a lark and learning experience sure has grown way beyond anything that any of us ever imagined. It’s hard not to get retrospective at the end of any year, so I thought I’d put a year of the Avenue into perspective.
In January 2010, if you had seen the product, you would have said, “these folks are crazy, there’s no way they will launch this,” and indeed, those who saw it said exactly that. We were literally working around the clock trying to get even the basics to come together, when suddenly it all fell into place by some miracle, and we launched our Friends and Family Beta at Transcend Coffee in Edmonton on February 23rd. Those of you who were part of both events will have the “Rocket Launch to the Sky” and “You’re A True Friend” achievements. In fact, somewhere there is high quality video of this event that has never been shown publicly!
The moment we turned on the switch, I realized we had made a small mistake. You see, we launched without any ability to control the e-mail notifications (and we’re still far from perfect, though much better). 250 friends invited, and their first task was to buy me. My email account exploded. I stayed up all night and wrote a notification control system.
We’ve gone from those 250 people, mostly in Canada, to watching thousands join us from around the world. We’ve seen our 1000th person on May 6th, the Chilean Avalanche, our heartbreaking tweaks to Market Makers, indeed the evolution of the Market Makers and changes to our core product and models. Our audience and community has grown and helped us change; your use of the site has dictated the site that it has become, and indeed the evolution to the final product that it is fast becoming. We’ve had investment from a group of people that we admire and respect, which has allowed us to not actually live on an avenue. We’ve even had a Squirrel Hunt and launched the Twitter Index.
Technically, we have launched four major site design changes and written millions of lines of code, watched our database sizes grow with concern, restructured APIs and cried into our beers when the site crashed, and screamed with delight when the sites came back. Our community has helped immensely: you have reported numerous bugs and even built applications on our current API that we never envisioned ourselves. We’ve even watched a sophisticated Empire Avenue application hit the iPhone/iTunes store shelves.
Ultimately, what we thought was a fun project has been embraced by thousands of you as a part of your daily lives and that, in and of itself, is an immense joy for us as a company and as a team.
Holiday Bonus and 2011
I’d like to give you all a hearty thank you from our team and our families here as we head into the holiday season. Recently we gave you all a small token of Eaves as appreciation through our inaugural newsletter. With this blog post, I’d like to announce that we will provide you with a bonus on any Eaves purchased on the Empire Avenue Shop. This Limited Time offer will last till January 10th, 2011.
Now, what about 2011? Well, we’re not done. Expect us to go places you didn’t expect. Expect us to try new things. Expect us to have some fun. Mostly the last… lots of fun. We started this as a group of friends on a “What If” scenario, and we’re still a group of friends; the “What If” is gone and instead we’re simply high on the Avenue!
Happy and Safe Holidays to you and your families from ours.