As is often the case when working on a startup, virtual or not, things don’t work out according to plan. I had the privilege to spend the past year working on Sled, from product inception to execution. At the same time we were launching Sled, I experienced some significant management changes at Yahoo! which eventually led to shutting it down.
To be clear, the decision to discontinue Sled was mine alone, but it wasn’t made in a vacuum. The change in management brought with it a change in attitude towards the project in both form and substance. My options were to stay and fight for it, or shut it down and move on. It was pretty upsetting, as these events usually are, especially given how active the list-making / light collaboration space is and the huge potential there. After fighting the organization for three years, I decided to move on and left the company shortly after.
This was the official announcement posted at the time on the now defunct Sled blog:
Over the past few months, I had the pleasure of being part of an exciting experiment at Yahoo! called Sled.
Sled was a collaborative list making tool with a strong focus on life events and collaboration between friends and family. Planning a party, a house move, getting ready for a new baby, planning a trip, organizing a junior soccer league, or preparing for a marathon, are some of the areas Sled was focused on. We also found it really useful for building Sled itself, working in a small team, keeping track of issues and assignments.
There is a lot we don’t know about how to make our daily lives more productive and organized, and how to collaborate better. What we do know is that the wide range of tools and services available to us are, generally speaking, not very helpful. Everything is either too limited or too complicated. Usually too complicated. We know what doesn’t work, but figuring out what does requires experimentation.
Sled was developed as a virtual startup at Yahoo!, using open technologies and the freedom to experiment. As is often the case with startups and experiments, we have been constantly evaluating the product and its fit within our existing and future roadmap, and have made the decision to discontinue the project in its current form (shutting down sled.com at the end of the week).
But our story doesn’t end there.
We built Sled on an entirely open stack, using open source tools (Node.js, MongoDB, Express, Socket.IO, Jade) and open standards (JS, HTML5, OAuth 2.0). We have relied and benefit from a vibrant community of amazing developers and we want to give something back. One weak area for the community is the availability of fully-baked, showcase applications written in Node.js.
Instead of following the typical industry path of discontinued products, we have decided in the experimental spirit of Sled to release the entire project under an open source license using a new name: Postmile. This means anyone will be able to grab the code and run the entire service, back and front, exactly as it was hosted on sled.com (including the soon to be open sourced iPhone app we never got to release).
We hope you will find Postmile helpful, fun, and an insightful resource for the kind of projects you can build with Node.js today. Check it out at http://j.mp/postmile. You can use Postmile as a back-end API server for building new list-based products (to-do apps, simple project management tools, bug tracking), as a list making tool for your friends or your company, or just as a useful example to grab code from.
The best part about working on Sled was node. I got the rare opportunity to spend a year working full time on node and be part of the node community. The experience was so fantastic that I made working with node a central theme of my job search and I’m happy to report that it worked out quite nicely. But that’s for another post.