[[ Ok, to make this extra clear, all of the following information is completely FALSE. It was my little April Fool's joke :) ]]
I have been trying to hold this off as long as possible, but the choice has finally caught up with me. I just got off the phone with my accountant and several advisors. The news isn't pretty.
To put it simply: Quizlet has run out of money.
From the beginning, I have funded Quizlet out of my own pocket. My dad and I have paid for all of the servers, the domain name (it was already taken, so it cost me a very large sum to get it), incorporation costs, and miscellaneous costs associated with running a business - not to mention the thousands of hours I have spent programming and designing.
The original business plan was to start advertising on the site once it attained a sufficient quantity of users. We (my dad and I) knew very clearly that we could not support it on our own indefinitely. So we set about actively pursuing advertising deals with educational companies looking to advertise for what we thought was a very attractive demographic: highly motivated students from elementary school all the way to college. But the interest at these companies was simply not there. So we were left to figure out a back up plan. As the founder of Quizlet, it was my choice to decide what to do next.
I had to choose between three options:
- Charge for Quizlet.
- Put up generic advertising from Google or another ad publishing company
- Shut it down permanently.
Obviously, this was not an easy choice to make. I wished to do none of these.
After running some very careful analysis and consulting several other web companies, I reached the conclusion that having generic advertising deals would bring in too little money to cover the costs of daily operations. So #2 was eliminated immediately.
The last thing I wanted to do was shut Quizlet down. Over the past seventeen months, I have poured my entire life into working on Quizlet. It has become so much a part of me that to just turn it off would be like turning off a part of myself. I know that may sound cheesy or whatever, but Quizlet is so important to me. So, I think you get the point, #3 was out as well.
Which leaves me with making users pay to use Quizlet.
So here's the plan: Individual users will be able to subscribe to a whole year of Quizlet for $30. That rounds out to only 11 cents per day. Teachers and school districts will be able to purchase bulk packages of 35 accounts for $180. To put it in perspective, that is an 83% discount for the bulk package. These price points will be discussed in depth in a future blog post.
Payment will be exclusively online and will require a credit card or a Paypal account.
The timeline for the subscription phase-in is as follows:
- April 5, 2007 - Free registration will end. Already registered users will have full access privileges and may continue using the site as normal. New and current users will be able to start paying for their one-year subscriptions.
- May 5, 2007 - All registered users who have not paid the subscription fee for Quizlet will have their accounts severely restricted. They will have the opportunity to use the Export page to remove their data from Quizlet for another 2 months, and then their accounts will be completely deleted.
But there is some good that will come out of charging for Quizlet. First, it will allow me to immediately start hiring other programmers that will be able to add great new features like image learning. As always, there are many features I want to add to Quizlet, and the improvements to Quizlet will only quicken as more people join the team. Having paying users will also let me hire a dedicated support staff (probably just one person to begin with) which will be able to answer questions and resolve issues more immediately than the current situation.
I will be available for questions in the comments of this blog post. Again, I am deeply sorry for having to make this choice.
UPDATE: Lastly, everything I just said is a COMPLETE JOKE. Quizlet will always be free. Happy April Fool's day, everybody!