Earlier today, we announced closing $600k at a $2M valuation for Hummingbird, with a seed round led by Viz Media and Bernard Chong. As significant a milestone as this is for us, it only defines our beginning.
Hummingbird has been connecting anime fans for nearly four years now. In that time, we’ve seen competitors come and go, and we’ve come close to closing our doors as well. One reason for our success is that we have not remained the same platform over the years; we’ve changed and adapted and improved.
Today, we’re continuing to do that as we rebrand under the name Kitsu.
Existing Hummingbird users can login with their same credentials at https://kitsu.io, all of your data has been preserved.
What‘s so great about Kitsu?
First and foremost, Kitsu is a rewrite and redesign of Hummingbird from the ground up. Over the years, the designs for our site had begun to drift, so they no longer felt like they had the same personality. A number of new features had also been added without a clear vision to how they fit into the overall design, so the interface had begun to feel cluttered and hard to understand.
As it turns out, it’s extremely difficult to design consistent and beautiful things at scale.
The Hummingbird experience as a whole was in sore need of simplifying and unifying. And if we were going to do that, we needed to identify what exactly separates us from our various competitors.
- Hummingbird is a community in which most members maintain a strong sense of ownership towards the platform,
- the community is our biggest asset.
- community self-regulation is a must as we continue to scale.
One of our goals with Kitsu is flexibility. We want to encourage our users to connect the pieces of our platform together in their own way to create their own world. Jump in and immediately start connecting with other fans, stop whenever you want, then come back and pick up right where you left off.
The Global Feed
Previously, the activity you saw on your feed was limited to the users you were following. This worked well enough if you were one of the more popular users on our platform, but for many, the feed was both quiet and boring. With Kitsu, we’re introducing the Global Feed, allowing you to see posts from users you may not yet be following across the entire community. This will provide a much more engaging feed experience for everyone on the platform.
Better Privacy and Control
The Global Feed does a great job of tearing down the walls between users, but we want to make sure that users have the ability to self-moderate. You should be able to dictate how much or how little of the community you want to rub shoulders with.
*Tagging: Allows you to limit what users can tag you on the activity feed ranging from Anyone, Only your Followers or simply Nobody.
*Profile Privacy: Will enable you to limit who can view the content of your profile to only your Followers. When users attempt to follow you, you can choose to accept or deny their follow.
Discoverability: If you don’t want your activity feed posts and library events to hit the Global Feed, you can very simply disable that sharing here.
** Tagging and Profile Privacy aren’t yet available as we iron out some kinks
A feature long absent on Hummingbird is the ability to block users you would prefer not to interact with.
A logo by any other name
After deciding on the name Kitsu, it was clear that we needed a logo that would tie our brand together both now and in the future, wherever that may take us. We worked closely with Ramotion to design a logo that was gender neutral, serious but playful and timeless.
Looking back on Hummingbird
Starting Hummingbird has been a surprisingly educational experience. My most valuable lesson learned? To not take all the people that are with you along the journey for granted. Beyond the constant scramble to fix bugs, define the product roadmap, and raise money, I didn’t pause nearly enough to savor the moments I got to spend with so many incredibly nice and smart people building something we were passionate about from scratch.
It was this same community that organized themselves in secret to produce the video ‘Operation Sugar Water’ and deliver it to me on my birthday. This community, and everyone in it, mean a lot to me.
I’ll end this with high fives to just some of the people that have been most seminal in bringing Kitsu to where it is today:
- Vikhyat Korrapati, for starting this adventure with me before moving on to an exciting career at Amazon.
- My core team (Jesus Martinez, Sven Gehring, Thomas McNiven and Peter Lejeck) who weathered the highs-and-lows of building a startup and sacrificed many a late night to build what we have today.
- Our many open-source developers who have dedicated their time to making our platform all the more better. Including, but not limited to, Franklin Wang, Daniel Rassiner, James Harris, Matthew Dias and Mikunj Varsani.
- Xip and Uri, for being truly invaluable in keeping us organized and in touch with the community while myriad bugs presented themselves along the way.
- Bernard Chong, Rob Pereyda and everyone at Viz Media for seeing not just the results but also the immense possibilities that stand before us.
- Jennifer Piro, for her willingness to bring her vast experience within the industry to the table as a member of our board.
- Jimmy Odom for giving me the insight and advice I needed to get back on the horse, time and time again.
And finally, a high five to our first ~100,000 users who lived through more than a few bugs, breakages and oddities but understood the problem and were patient with our early solutions. Users that are supportive, passionate and understanding are one of many reasons we enjoy doing this. Thank you.
Every day our team is rolling it’s sleeves to build a meaningful product for our not just our users, but ourselves too. I’m honored to be working alongside you all.
And this is just the beginning.