Founding Members,

(We’ve got big news.)

On October 8th — the one year anniversary of our Founding Member Campaign launch — we flipped the switch and began Grid Beta auto-activations. Every day since, we’ve activated 100 new Founding Members who’ve begun building the first sites on The Grid. And we know: it’s about time. This has been a long time in the making and we know you are anxious to get a look for yourself.

First of all, thank you. The Grid is a startup of 30 people, and every one of us is passionate about this project, about the belief that there can and should be a platform that puts beautiful websites within anyone’s reach. We joined knowing that this is more than a short-run project; it’s a game-changing idea. Most of us left great jobs to pursue this, and as we’ve begun to tackle this huge challenge we’ve learned a couple things: One, that this is hard. And two, that it’s worth it. So again, thank you. Your patience as well as the knowledge that you share our belief in the power of this idea have been powerful motivators.

We operate as a flat, self-organizing team and we’re working hard to be more transparent with you so we can share as we learn from our successes and failures. So yes, real talk, it took us longer than we planned to get comfortable with adding anyone... much less everyone. That’s because The Grid product is in its infancy, and honestly, it’s still below our standards. That’s why it was so hard to let people on - because our standards are high, and we know yours will be too. When we compare the vision we are building to what has been built, we see a huge gap. But when we compare what we have built to existing platforms that have taken hundreds of developers many years to grow, we see a smaller gap. And every day those gaps get smaller. But we’ll never fully bridge them until we can learn with and from you, our Founders.

Frankly, we were worried that when we finally activated you, you may not like where we’ve taken things. But what we realized is that you are part of this team. You made an investment when this was just an idea. As a founder, you deserve a say in the direction of the product from an early stage. We really, really need and value your feedback. Be critical of the sites you see coming out. If something could be better, say so. When you see something promising, call it out. When you get access to the product, beat the hell out of it. Now that the vision for The Grid is within reach, we won’t rest until you’re all active and making sites we are all proud of. Then we can focus on improving something else we are unsatisfied with.

So while we might never be fully comfortable onboarding en masse, we decided it’s time. So we’re are adding 100 of you daily, and as of this writing, we have nearly 1,600 Founding Members actively participating in the beta. The switch, as we said earlier, is flipped. There’s no going back!

The more people we activate, the more excited we are. Because we are not building a better content management system. We aren’t trying to be another website builder. What we are building is a different animal. A platform shaped by your content. Today, with one click, Grid users can send content to their site from any digital source; photos from an iPhone, videos from an Android device, any piece of content from anywhere on the web. From there, our AI tools are analyzing the color and context of photos, the length and language of text and the preferences set for fonts, brand and layout to deliver a site that would’ve taken thousands of dollars or hundreds of hours to achieve with existing tools and services. And no, we aren’t happy with the results... yet. But the foundation has been laid and the plumbing is in and with the help of the feedback we are receiving, it’s only a matter of time.

So what’s next?

First, more onboarding. Getting you guys in here. Right now we’re at 100 members a day, but before you start doing math in your head trying to figure out how long it’s going to take for your Founding Member number to get called, here’s something to note: while the waves are small and steady now, as we add more users and they are on-boarded without any glitches, we plan to amp up the volume and increase the size of the waves to potentially thousands of users per day. Long story short, you may be building your beta site sooner than you think. That is our goal.

Second, more transparency. In the coming weeks we will be making our bug tracker and roadmap public. We want you to see what features and fixes are being worked on and more importantly, to see the bigger vision of where we are going with The Grid. In the meantime, here is some feedback we’ve been getting from new users (warts and all):
  • Depending on the layout, some images are sized up beyond their max res while others are distorted depending on the column #
  • Sometimes when I edit a draft and upon completing, I return to drafts, the page I just edited is gone. Deleted, gone.  Which kinda sucks! :)  But I love the direction things are headed.
  • Another UX issue I noticed is in the drafts section, I always try to double click a draft to open it up for editing, which doesn't work.
  • The first thing I noticed when using the content editor when working on a draft is I have a habit of trying to drag and drop an image into the editor.
  • Having just started using the grid today three major things leap out at me: Too many of the grid's controls are unclear making for poor UX. e.g. It was unclear to me that I had to close the Add to Site pane in order to access the new post button. The pane should be clearly different from the background, and should auto close when clicked off.

Finally, a bit more news...

The Grid to Host a Panel at SXSW

Since we’re announcing things, this seems like the best place to officially announce our panel at SXSW 2016. The question we’ll be addressing is “If We Can Automate Ourselves, Should We?” where we’ll discuss how AI web design could help us all skip straight to  “the final 20%”, the truly creative portion of developing our web presence that comes after the pixel-pushing and coding are done.

D4 in Huffington Post

Our Fearless Founder and CEO Dan Tocchini recently sat down with the Huffington Post to talk all things Grid-ly, and it’s a pretty interesting read, if we do say so ourselves. Give it a read, and find out the role trampoline dodgeball can play in conflict resolution, among other things.

Stay Tuned for More!

That’s it for now! Thank you all once again for your support, and once again stay tuned to our Twitter and Facebook for more cool stuff from us, more often.

With Love,

The Grid Team
The Grid · 2816 Clay Street, San Francisco, CA 94115
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