August 21, 2014
That Time of Year: TOR’s Year in Review
Hey! It’s kinda, sorta the one year anniversary for The Old Reader. I know, some of you have been using The Old Reader since 2012. But the current team took over just a year ago. And now we’re going to celebrate, have some cake, and reminisce.
When we first got involved, there was a lot of mystery about who we were. This blog initially only said that a “a new corporate entity in the United States” was going to take over and improve the service.
We didn’t mean to be so mysterious. We were a new company ourselves. Levee Labs is our web application company. It’s the kind of work we’ve been doing since the late 90’s before starting our own shop a few years ago.
Like most people who used TOR, we were sad when we heard that the founders, Elena and Dmitry, planned to shut it down because the volume of users was overwhelming. However, they were willing to sell the application as long as the new owners had the same values and attitudes along with the technical ability to improve the application’s availability. I like to think we’ve delivered on both.
Our first priority was to handle traffic spikes better. We’ve been building high volume, highly scalable web apps for a long time, so we knew a lot about that particular problem. In the first few months, a lot of what we did was backend stuff to improve the architecture and performance.
Thanks to all of you who hung with us while we moved all of the data 5,000 miles to our new infrastructure.
Next came the new features. We’ve added a number of new social sharing features as well as usability features. Social sharing features like Starred items and Send To allow you you to highlight and share posts from The Old Reader for friends or social media. We also added the bookmarklet feature to send a copy of any web page to your TOR account.
A lot of these are features you’ve all been asking for, while other are just things we think are cool. More recently, we added Spritz to help you read faster. And of course, we have grown the list of apps to make your Old Reader feed available everywhere, as with the most recent, Reeder for iOS and Mac.
Of course, the biggest change was in February when we rolled out Premium accounts for The Old Reader. This was the biggest risk of all, but I am happy to say it has worked out. TOR now has well over a half million users and thousands of Premium users.
Premium isn’t just way to make sure the service is viable for the foreseeable future. It’s what lets us keep the service available without resorting to the ads, feed manipulation, data mining, sponsored content, and all of the crap that pollutes social media and other online services. We’ll also keep rolling out new Premium features to make the service even more valuable.
Reading this, I am immensely proud of what we’ve accomplished. But know that we’re not even close to done. We’ve got a lot of stuff in the works, big and small. It should be a fun year.
Now, back to cake.