Beeminder Turns Two!

Saturday, October 12, 2013
By bsoule

A bee wearing a (birthday) crown

Yo-yo-yo! We’re two! So perhaps we should say yo-yo? Remember two years ago when we launched?

Beeminder Open to the Public!

You almost surely don’t! (If you do, let us know, because we have presents for you — for real.) How about a year ago when we wrote a blog post much like this one for our first anniversary of launching?

Launch Anniversary! How Crazy Are We Now?

Most of you don’t remember that either. Last year at this time, 6,000 people had signed up for Beeminder. We’re now at 15,000. By more important metrics, we’ve actually doubled a couple times since then. People have started 36,000 goals with Beeminder (we were at 10,000 a year ago). The total number of datapoints plotted is now over 2 million (it was 400,000 last year). And the total of all pledges ever made has gone from $50,000 to $165,000 (or maybe $328,000 — this is a confusing number to calculate, what with moving up and down the pledge schedule, and for now we need to just get this blog post out the door!).

“We’re talking upper middle class money”

We hope it’s not too gauche, or in Beeminder’s case, perverse, to talk about actual revenue but it’s an important metric for Beeminder’s future: our revenue has steadily and predictably grown from $3,000 last October to a projected $14,000 this month. So with our 3.25 FTEs, we’re talking upper middle class money here! What that means for you, Dear Reader, is that Beeminder is not going anywhere. We’re in this for the long haul.

So, in that spirit, let us retrospect! Here are some of our favorite bits from the last year.

Press (aka “OMG did you hear about how great Beeminder is?”)

The most high profile press coverage of the past year was our appearance on the front page of the Wall Street Journal. We also had a month-long sojourn in the skies in Southwest Airlines’ Spirit magazine which was technically even higher profile (get it?) and certainly yielded more new users. More recently, we appeared in Shape magazine and the Portland Business Journal, and we have 37 sightings of ourselves in the news and blogosphere since our last press roundup six months ago which we’ll blog about later. We’re a major plot point in Nick Winter’s book The Motivation Hacker and we were a minor sponsor of the global Quantified Self conference, which we’ll blog about separately soon.

Rules, features, improvements, baubles, widgets, wingdingers, zozzits, and fiddlesnitchen

Another year with Beeminder of course also means another year of improvements that you yourself can verify with your very own eyes, per our UVI yellow brick road. Can you guess how many User-Visible Improvements we’ve made in the last year? Yes, 365. There are a few big headliners though. Retroratchet lets you get rid of excess safety buffer. Scheduled breaks let you more easily plan ahead for changes in your road, e.g., vacation. The new world order, with precommit-to-recommit for all makes for more sensible defaults — you have to intentionally quit your self-improving. In the same vein, Do Less goals are much more useful. Namely, if you ignore them, you derail! We implemented zeno polling to keep bugging you more and more insistently as you approach the cliff edge of your road — incredibly valuable for certain types of goals (but only on by default for GmailZero goals currently).

On the subject of money, we implemented pledge short-circuiting so you can move up (and down) the pledge schedule, and we gave you premium Beeminder (y’know, in case you want to pay us more money). We also nerded out a whole bunch on the fairness of premium subscriptions.

The ugly, the bad, and the technical

Though we’re based in the Rose City, it wasn’t all roses and ponies this past year. In particular we lack ponies. We don’t have a whole lot to say here, because we’re doing a pretty good job overall. But we did refund a fair chunk of money to people in January of this year when we discovered that sometimes non-legit charges were in fact getting charged, despite our attempts to cancel them! There was a second time we initiated refunds this year, after we suddenly changed reminder settings for GmailZero goals. We realized what a disaster that was for people who’d been relying on those urgent reminders, and it was the catalyst for implementing Zeno Polling.

We also had some scheduled down time once or twice, like when we moved to a new server, and upgraded Rails. In fact, we’ve been experiencing some growing pains with our architecture in the past months: our overnight refreshes are getting slower and there’ve been far too many times when — particularly if you’re an early riser — you may have woken up to stale graphs. This may be our excuse to switch to client-side graphing sooner rather than later.

Hello data!

Man did we rock on the integrations, i.e., automatic data sources, this year. We added Duolingo, Github, RescueTime, FitBit, and Trello, as well as releasing our Android and iOS apps (which were on the verge of being announced this time last year). Reducing the friction required to beemind All The Things is top of mind after spending two days with a group of the most motivated data nerds out there at the Quantified Self global conference this weekend. Even amongst the sort of people who track anything from meditation, to heart rate variability, to calorie intake, to bowel movements, to cognitive performance, and beyond, the problem of burnout is a hard one to tackle. You’ve probably got the best chance for beemindery success if the data is passively collected, without remembering to enter it and such.


 

Wow. This post’s been a delicious mouthful. So much goodness has happened in the last year! Give me a moment to wax earnestly about how grateful I am for all of you… I get all mushy faced and proud mama hen when I click through legit checks to fix your goals, my beeminders, and I see the march of progress in your graphs — months or years of dots cleaving to the road. I’m like that too. And I’m so excited for another year of relentless awesomeness together!


 

Image credit: Craftulate

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  • http://www.kongregate.com/accounts/player_03 player_03

    Congratulations, and good work!

    Also, I was around for the public launch. What do I get? :)

  • http://skritter.com Nick

    Congrats guys! Predictions for this time next year?

  • April

    Congratulations! It’s motivating to see your tool work for you. Thanks for the great tool.

  • http://beeminder.com Daniel Reeves

    Tshirts and stickers, so far! I’ll email you separately about that when we’re ready to send things out. But you’re definitely on the list now. (Others, please chime in as well!)

  • Rodrigo Belo

    Congratulations! Add me to the list as well!

  • http://beeminder.com Daniel Reeves

    365 more User-Visible Improvements! That one’s a no-brainer. We could also predict continuation of the numerical trends, eg, >$50k/month revenue. (Actually I keep expecting that to slow down since our user growth is rather linear. The plan is to get our advertising strategy dialed in by the time we hit that presumed brick wall. That’s the standard way to keep revenue growing exponentially.) A meta prediction: there will be some kind of awesomeness we’ll come up with that we don’t currently foresee, like something besides slick client-side graphs and generalized road dial and more integrations and whatnot.

    I generally take the view that the best prediction strategy is to ignore all your Feelings and your Reasons and go with a repeat or continuation of whatever’s happened in the past.

  • http://robinryder.wordpress.com/ Robin

    Congratulations!
    I’ve been around for just over two years, and Beeminder has helped me work more productively, eat healthier, waste less time on the Interwebs, never get behind on my boring admin tasks, and increase my typing speed by about 50%… Thanks!

  • Tadeusz

    Ping. I remember the original public announcement on LessWrong. To quote Mr Show, “Dear Globo-Chem, someone is trying to kill me. Please send as many free products as possible. Love, David Cross.”

  • Kibbles

    I think blindly predicting that past trends will continue to hold true is the worst way to predict the future, except for all the other ways.

  • http://beeminder.com Daniel Reeves

    I started to get riled up (planning fallacy! foxes vs hedgehogs!) before safely making it to the end of that sentence. :)