Arcs. Every shot has one. So does every business. Along those lines—well, curves—we’re happy to announce that Dribbble has tweaked its trajectory: we’re now part of Tiny, a new family of companies run by Andrew Wilkinson and Chris Sparling. With MetaLab, Designer News, Flow, and Pixel Union, Andrew and Chris have assembled and grown an impressive portfolio of bootstrapped design companies. By joining forces with Tiny, we hope to augment our ability to serve the design community and move faster along our product parabola.
Like many startups, Dribbble was a happy accident–a company that emerged from a side project by two dads whose idea of a good time was making a website. (We know how to party!) When our initial efforts saw some traction, we decided to step up our game and work full-time on Dribbble toward establishing a business that could sustain our growing design community.
We’ve spent the last 7+ years expanding that community and the business that powers it. To keep up with growth on all fronts, we stretched ourselves into roles we never imagined and found ourselves hiring a small team of 8 strong.
We’ve had ups and downs, joys and failures along the way. And while we’ve been able to provide for our team and keep some profit to boot, we’ve definitely been overwhelmed at times in doing so. Increasing dissonance between “things we want to do” and “resources to do them” led us to thinking about the scale and structure of our operation. We wanted capacity to explore future directions and keep our daily operational efforts from becoming quicksand. It felt like we could use some help.
And yet … we love having a small, tight-knit team and didn’t want to wreck that chemistry. Raising venture capital with the goal of flying to the sun wasn’t a match for our sensibilities, team or community. What did feel right was trying to find a bigger, product-savvy sibling that could provide a boost of human capital, resources, and mentorship.
So we had some conversations. Respect for our community and seamless integration of our remote team were non-negotiable, so the list of viable partners was tiny. To our good fortune, Andrew and Chris, who had expressed interest in Dribbble prior, happened to be in Boston for business. We met for lunch and spent some quality time answering questions and brainstorming about what we could do together.
While we adore remote work, a little face time can do wonders, and we came away from that encounter feeling that these were high-caliber, low-ceremony people with whom we could thrive. After a few weeks of phone calls we came to an agreement to have Tiny acquire Dribbble but allow us to maintain involvement and an ownership stake. We’re not ones for business jargon, but it feels like WIN WIN.
So what does this mean for Dribbble? We hope the change is seamless for our community and customers. Behind the scenes, we’ll have more room to breathe and focus while adding firepower to improve our product, community, and revenue. (As always, we consider ourselves extremely lucky to run the type of operation where these align.) If things go as planned, we hope the most noticeable aspect of this change is that it’s not terribly noticeable at all.
We’re thrilled that Dribbble is now bigger than before. Not much bigger—just a tiny bit. As we add another chapter to the arc of our story, please know that we’re working hard to ensure that it bends toward the goal of a happy, healthy design community that’s profitable for designers. We’re grateful for your support through all these years and remain amazed by your work and passion. We can’t wait to expand our game to better serve you in 2017 and beyond.
P.S. Check out Andrew’s announcement on Dribbble and Tiny.