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A fork in the road (An important announcement about I want Sandy)

Today marks a fork in the road for this particular startup. Values of n [http://valuesofn.com], the company behind Stikkit [http://stikkit.com] and I Want Sandy [http://iwantsandy.com], will be closing its doors. Both services will going offline at close of business (5pm PST) on Monday December 8th, 2008. Until then, they'll be up and running as usual to allow our users time to make the transition, find alternative services, and download any data they wish to take with them.

While the company and services will be shutting down, Stikkit and Sandy's DNA will live on; the intellectual property behind both has been acquired by Twitter, Inc [http://twitter.com]. While Twitter has no immediate plans to incorporate Sandy or Stikkit's feature sets into its core product, those who know our apps well may notice familiar-feeling bits and bobs appearing in your Twitter experience.

The third tine of this fork is me: I have taken an engineering position in the User Experience group at Twitter. I started consulting there a few months ago, and fell in love with the team, their way of thinking about things, and of course the product (my Twitter user id is in the low 100s). It turns out we worked incredibly well together, the feeling was mutual, and they pulled me in as a permanent member of the team.

I'm excited to continue building simple, engrossing products -- my favorite thing to do -- and to imbue my work with all I've learned over the last three years.

We are so proud of the technology we've created behind the scenes, the experience we've provided our users, and the sense of playfulness and suspension of disbelief we've managed to inject into personal productivity. When I look back at our statement of intent [http://valuesofn.com], I realize just how true we've been to what we set out to do and how we set out to do it:

Values of n brings an iconoclastic approach to social software design.
We're throwing out the well-worn assumptions about how applications are
supposed to work, and are instead paying attention to the clever ways in
which people have adapted software to fit their needs. These workarounds
usually contain the seeds of a better solution.

We always strive to move beyond software that's "cool" or feature-full to
software that's transparent and feature-useful: software so elegantly
implemented it becomes an extension of the person using it.

As I blogged mid-last year [http://www.valuesofn.com/blog/2007/07..., "We programmers and engineers aren't so lucky as to find free-standing virtual marble blocks ready for the sculpting. We must first build up the marble block itself until it shows sufficient promise and only then start chipping away to reveal our product's true form." We built up that marble block in Stikkit and subsequently revealed what we believed to be our product's true form in Sandy.

We're honored that our work was recognized by the award-givers (SWSX award for Best Technical Achievement 2007 [http://www.valuesofn.com/blog/2007/03...] and Webware 100 award for Productivity [http://news.cnet.com/8301-13546_109-9..., but we've been even more excited about the conversations we've had with our users [http://getsatisfaction.com/iwantsandy], both directly and through our applications. So much energy and goodwill has come out of that exchange -- I will personally take that with me as one of the high points as CEO.

None of this would have been possible without an incredible cast of characters. Our investors made it all possible in the first place. Our board provided guidance, asked or answered difficult questions, and kicked our collective asses on just the right occasions. Our team of employees, consultants, and ad hoc barn-raisers infused all we did with a goodly mix of solid engineering, creativity, and fun. Our advisors shared their combined years of wisdom and experience. Our users have been a wellspring of positive energy and support -- even (and especially) when they ran into bugs; in particular, our "deputies," the volunteer user community leaders [http://getsatisfaction.com/iwantsandy..., took up the slack and provided a helping hand to their peers. And our families and friends -- the unsung heroes of the startup life -- gave us the better part of three years to sink into our work and cheered us along every day.

Thank you to everyone who has made Values of n, Stikkit, and Sandy possible. It has been an honor to work with you and I look forward to continuing the conversation. You can find me at http://raelity.org (blog to be rebooted shortly) and http://twitter.com/rael.

Rael

Rael Dornfest
CEO, Values of n, Inc.

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QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

(?) When will Stikkit and I want Sandy go offline?

We will be shutting off our servers at close of business (5pm PST) on Monday December 8th, 2008.

(?) Where should I go for further information and help?

* I want Sandy: The best place to turn to for help with I want Sandy is our Get Satisfaction user-to-user forum at http://getsatisfaction.com/iwantsandy.

* Stikkit: Visit the Stikkit discussion forums at http://community.valuesofn.com/stikkit.

If you can't seem to find what you're after on either of these two forums, please send email to help@valuesofn.com.

(?) How do I cancel my account?

If you'd like to explicitly cancel your account:

* I want Sandy: Point your browser at http://iwantsandy.com/cancel.

* Stikkit: Send email to help@valuesofn.com with the subject "Stikkit Cancellation" in the subject line and we'll cancel your account for you.

(?) Can I take my data with me?

But of course! Both Stikkit and I want Sandy provide RSS/Atom and iCalendar feeds of your data that can be downloaded to your computer (and then uploaded to/imported into any other desktop application or online service that supports these same standards.

* I want Sandy: Visit http://iwantsandy.com/help/feeds for information on I want Sandy's data feeds.

* Stikkit also has a programmatic interface -- the Stikkit API -- that provides more comprehensive access to your data, both directly and through one of the many third-party tools and applications built against it. Visit http://stikkit.com/api#feeds for details.

We will be providing some additional export functionality in the days to come should our users require anything beyond what is provided in these feeds.

(?) What services should we look at to take the place of Stikkit and/or Sandy?

We have been continuously impressed by the following calendar, to-do list, and notebook'ing services:

* Google Calendar: http://calendar.google.com
* Remember the Milk: http://rememberthemilk.com
* Backpack: http://backpackit.com
* PBWiki: http://pbwiki.com

(?) What will Sandy do now?

Sandy has not filled us in on her plans as yet, but we rather suspect she'll be taking a day or three off for some much deserved offline rest and relaxation -- and she won't be reachable by email ;-).
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