It's the start of a new year, and I'm here to talk with you about the current and future state of PucaTrade. I know it's been a long time since I last posted here; frankly, it's been a while since I've posted anywhere online. 2017 was a rough year for many people, and for PucaTrade it was no different. That said, I am more optimistic today than I was at the beginning of 2017, and I believe 2018 will be an important year for us.
There are changes to announce today which I believe will inspire some hope in the community, while other things I'll share may cause some concern. PucaTrade as a business has real problems, and there are realities that we must address in order to keep the site running. It's important to understand that we have a plan for how to move forward.
PucaTrade no longer reliably generates enough revenue to support itself. We spend over $10,000 each month to keep the site and the company running. In 2016 we were spending at least twice that much monthly on our technology hosting, employee salaries, SaaS subscriptions, office space, taxes, and so on. We have good months and bad months like any business, but the revenue trend is not where we want it to be, and has not been for some time.
We no longer have any full-time employees, and this has been the case for months. The co-founders and remaining contributors have been working part-time as they can, for near-zero dollars. We hear the complaints online about our unresponsiveness, and about how we are ignoring questions and suggestions from our community.
The truth is that we hear you, and we know you want answers. But the same old answers won't cut it in 2018.
Changes in Leadership
We are making some fundamental changes to the leadership team at PucaTrade.
Jonathan Medina is stepping forward as Director of PucaTrade. We are very excited about this change, and you can read more about Jon and his new position below.
Eric Freytag is stepping back as CEO. Eric founded the site in 2012 and he has been its biggest champion. He has done more for PucaTrade than most people know. Consistent with his role for the past six months, Eric will continue to administer legal and financial filings and will remain available in an advisory capacity.
Mitch Trale is stepping back as CTO. Mitch has been an active technology contributor and director at PucaTrade since 2013. Consistent with his role for the last three months, he will remain available in a passive support and advisory role.
Chris Powell is stepping back as Senior Developer. Much of the technical work that went into PucaTrade is hidden beneath the surface, running silently every day. We have a suite of administrative tools, as well as processes which manage prices, card databases, case resolution, and so much more. Since 2013, Chris has humbly done much of this work, and in 2018 he will remain available in a passive support and advisory role.
If you were on PucaTrade in 2017, or have been in the Magic scene since 2010, you have seen Jon's name around. He's hosted podcasts, run card shops, and organized Magic initiatives online for many years. He's a trusted friend and tireless member of the community.
Jonathan has been managing the PucaTrade blog content all year. He's been advocating for Puca on social media, working the sweepstakes, and he's been helping the team stay focused. We would not be where we are today without Medina's help during 2017, and I would like to thank him for his hard work, most all of which is volunteered.
As Director of PucaTrade, Jonathan wants to hear from you. In my experience, Jonathan is fundamentally a good listener. He's patient, he hears people out, and he truly cares about the voices in the community. Already, Jon has held Campfire sessions on Discord, reaching out directly to people who want to contribute their ideas and time to PucaTrade. I'm sure he'll find many new ways to connect with the community, and I am excited to see this happening.
In 2013, we wanted to build something for the Magic community, and we did. Since then, we've honed and grown that vision into a complex trading tool and community resource that we are proud of. PucaTrade was always for the community, and it seems fitting that going forward, the community should have a more active role in its development, growth, and management. As such, we're using these three words to summarize our goals: Democratize, Socialize, and Realize.
We want the PucaTrade community to have more say in the direction of the site.
The things that matter most to the community should be the things that the PucaTeam are working on. The community should be empowered to influence and drive the improvement of the site. In 2018, most people understand that democracies can get messy. We have some strategies in mind for sharing more of the decision-making power with our members, and we are discussing opening up our codebase to more outside contributors, to better democratize the technical development of PucaTrade.
We want PucaTrade to be something that you're proud to share with your friends.
Because of the missteps of the past, and because of the current state of the site, there has been criticism directed towards us on social media. We want a better PucaTrade—one that is not only defensible within your communities, but one that is exciting and fun to use. This was one of the driving ideas behind the Allies feature, released last fall. We want to support existing trading relationships on the site by making it easier to find the people you trust on Puca. We also want to build new private trading tools to support our Discord traders, our LGS traders, and our Common traders. We have more work to do on this front.
We want PucaTrade to sustain itself.
PucaTrade's revenue picture has shifted dramatically over the years. We've never accepted angel or venture capital, and have always bootstrapped our efforts with our own money and with the ongoing support of our community. Our current mix of revenue streams is not right, so we must reconfigure our operating budget to give PucaTrade the best shot at growing and thriving once again. We must value and protect the trust our current members have in us, regain the trust of members who have canceled or quit the site, and attract new members as confidence in the platform grows. It's our belief that these efforts, in combination with your efforts as a community, will keep PucaTrade sustainable through 2018.
Looking Back & Moving Forward
For me personally, PucaTrade represents an incredible amount of attention, time, and care. I've been working on core site code and data since 2013, and back then it was something I did one or two days each week while I ran my primary consulting business. Soon after, I invited the growing PucaTeam into my office in downtown Oakland, and we continued to develop the site throughout 2014.
By late 2015, I stopped working with my old clients, and came on as a full-time employee at Puca, joining the other full-time guys (Case Resolution, Design, Marketing, Management, etc). I was a part of a growing company I had co-founded with my friends, and I was proud.
In startups, things can change quickly. By the end of 2016, all full-time employees had been on austerity wages for months, and many of our colleagues had already been let go. We had pushed a major redesign and technical expansion of PucaTrade live to the public around August, and this was very disruptive. We simply could not afford to run the site at the same pace, given our declining revenue. We moved into 2017 aware that our financial picture would need time to rebalance.
At the beginning of 2017, we moved out of our office downtown and began working remotely from our homes. I went back to working on PucaTrade once or twice a week, just like in 2013. Most of the other people involved in Puca had to be let go, while some scaled back their time commitments or offered their services as volunteers for as long as they could. I'd like to personally thank each of these individuals, who sacrificed their money or time or health for the sake of PucaTrade these last few years. You know who you are, and you know what you gave up in order to keep the boat afloat. I truly appreciate your contributions.
We spent 2017 stabilizing the site and focusing on our internal PucaPoint economy, creating point sinks like Promoted Wants, running our weekly sweepstakes, and addressing pressing concerns as they arose. I believe we accomplished some important things in 2017, and there is yet more work to do.
At the start of 2018, despite all of our challenges, I remain optimistic. There are still so many things I'd like to build for PucaTrade. It's hard for me to step back, but the truth is that this change has been a long time coming. I will still be involved in a technical capacity, and I may drop into Discord now and again to say hello. If you don't hear from me for a while, feel free to reach out.
You may still have questions, and you deserve answers. We will begin sharing our plans this month toward a new and more community-focused PucaTrade. Jon will begin publishing articles this week that detail our approach to the changes discussed in this post. We will continue to make progress towards our shared goal of a reinvigorated PucaTrade.
Thank you as always for your interest, patience, and trades.