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I Can't Stop Winning!

Pinboard is ten years old! I launched the site in July 9, 2009 from a small kitchen in Botoșani, Romania. My very first support email angrily demanded a refund, setting the tone for the next ten years.

The Internet back then was different. HTTPS was a luxury good. You could buy products and services with Bitcoin. Things in the tech industry hadn't consolidated down to an oligopoly—Yahoo was still a going concern, as was AOL and LiveJournal. The 'big 3' in tech were HP, IBM, and Motorola, with Microsoft the only software company in the top 10. Pillows were fluffier. Food tasted better.

Now that a decade has passed, I thought I would have some Yoda-like business wisdom to impart, but I don't. It feels just like last year. The journey of 10,000 steps begins with 9,999 steps!

My grandpa sometimes said "you have to help your fate along," and I always liked this worldview very much, for the way it bolted a work ethic onto fatalism. Things happen, but you can always take credit for tenacity.

A one-person business is an exercise in long-term anxiety management, so I would say if you are already an anxious person, go ahead and start a business. You're not going to feel any worse. You've already got the main skill set of staying up and worrying, so you might as well make some money.

Running an online service solo puts one in the coffin corner between the Dunning Kruger effect and impostor syndrome. On some days you feel the correct but paralyzing sense that you are in way over your head. On other days, you'll feel like you're surfing on waves of liquid competence, doing flips, until you destroy something important.

In between the two is a zone of narrow, focused productivity that I hope one day to find.

Every year I post stats, except last year, when I forgot. (I will update the 2018 stats in the table below when I find them).

2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
bookmarks 3.5 27 53 76 97 122 148 173 224
tags (M) 11 76 135 178 212 251 291 291 405
active users (K) 2.8 16 23 23 24 25 24 29 21
archives (T) 0.2 3.0 5.9 8.8 14.2 20.9 24.8 31.8 57
URLs (M) 2.5 16 32 48 63 82 104 126 173
revenue (K) 117 178 181 175 193 160 234 259 253 222
funding (M)
acquisitions 1

The gist of it is, there are more bookmarks, more URLs, more of everything except users. That is because I spent all of 2017 doing tech organizing, and then all of 2018 fundraising for the Congressional elections, and customers grew irate. Now I am trying to win them back.

What does the future hold for Pinboard? Death! The bus that one day comes for us all! The skeletal, icy hand on an unprepared shoulder! Pain, a flash of light, then numbing darkness. So back up your bookmarks.

On this happy day, there are three people I would like to especially thank:

  • Joshua Schachter, for giving me the moral blessing to clone Delicious while it was still a going concern, and for contributing invaluable ideas (like the URL schema and pricing model).

  • Peter Gadjokov, who co-founded the site with me, came up with the name, and helped me through the insanity of December 2010.

  • And Britta Gustafson, who introduced me to fandom and showed me how they had created an entire world of their own on Delicious.

Not coincidentally, all three of these people are from the earliest days of Delicious, and I am happy that the community they created in 2003 can in some way live on in the very different internet of 2019, biding its time until things can be fun again. I am grateful to them all, and grateful to the people who use this website, hopefully for many decades to come.

Previous anniversary posts:

—maciej on July 09, 2019

Pinboard is a bookmarking site and personal archive with an emphasis on speed over socializing.

This is the Pinboard developer blog, where I announce features and share news.

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