Cork’d Finds a New Home

When “Dan Benjamin”: and I launched “Cork’d”: a year ago, our primary goal was achieved immediately: building something we _personally_ wanted to use to discover and share wine. Twelve months later, it turns out other people wanted to use it as well, and we’ve had a blast listening to the community, improving the site and watching it grow (to over 20,000 users today).
One thing became clear throughout the evolution though: that the site always deserved far more attention than it received from its founders. We were building Cork’d on nights and weekends, and keeping up with new site features, member requests, etc. often took a backseat to other client work and dayjobs. Cork’d needed a new home — but not just any.
h4. A New Home
After talks with companies large and small, we realized we didn’t want Cork’d to become just an advertising bucket for a media company that would most likely let it fizzle out. It was important to us to find a home that would _get_ what the site does and how it uniquely fit in the wine world. We’re happy to announce today that *Cork’d has been acquired by a newly formed company* with “Gary Vaynerchuk”: of “Wine Library TV”: at the helm.
“Gary”: has been changing the wine world as host of WLTV has built a rabid following of wine fans (“Vayniacs”, they’re called — myself included) with his energetic take on making wine _fun_ — this is precisely the same mantra we had building Cork’d. But Gary also really _knows_ wine — something Dan B. nor I can really claim. The recycling guy in my neighborhood knows how much I love wine (and regularly) — but that doesn’t mean I _know_ wine. You know? To get an idea of the show, be sure to check out “this video summary”:
Gary really _gets_ community. And with his mix of knowledge, energy, fresh take on wine, and his embracing of technology and the web, we’ve found a _perfect_ fit. And that’s really what’s most important for the site — that Cork’d continue to grow under an organization that gets wine, gets the web, gets what Cork’d was trying to do, etc.
We’re excited that Gary along with “Rails”: whiz “Erik Kastner”: will be able to take the site to the next level (something it’s always deserved), integrating Cork’d and live tasting, having a real wine authority behind it. Cork’d will not only continue on — but it’ll get even better. For the last month or so, we’d been helping transition the site over, and out of that came some cool new features:
* A switch to the more widely used 100-point rating system.
* “Cork Board” on every profile page to start discussion between members.
* Easy import of wines for CellarTracker members.
* New identity and layout for Wine Library TV, to further tie the two destinations together.
Gary and team have more things in the works like support for “OpenID”:, mobile and more. Dan B. and I will remain on as advisors, but we leave the site in very capable and enthusaistic hands. Cheers to WLTV and the future of Cork’d!
h4. A Learning Experience
The last year has been a tremendous learning experience on so many levels. Sure it’s just a little wine site that Dan B. and I created in our spare time — but the process of building, maintaining, and transitioning was filled with lessons and “ah, so that’s how this all works” moments.
Working with Dan B. taught me volumes about how Rails can be a fantastic environment for designers to create in. I’ve talked about it before — but the concept of using “Subversion”: (SVN) and “chipping” away at the interface _in real time_ made it a bit like sculpting the application. I’m hooked.
I credit Dan B.’s talent as a developer for being able to easily handle the real brunt of the work here — having spent most of my time handing over XHTML and CSS templates to clients and then walking away, seeing and _learning_ how everything falls into place by watching Dan work his magic was invaluable. And fun.
Read more about “the Cork’d acquisition over at Hivelogic”:
h4. What’s Next?
It’s been a busy Spring, with the Cork’d transition, large client projects, and a book revision in the works. But I’m looking forward to the Summer to brainstorm on the future. An office move, expansion and a new SimpleBits-branded product are all probable — we’ll just see how all the juggling goes.