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Feedback, Bug Fixes, and our Path Forward

April 24, 2014

Over the past seven years, CrunchBase has grown from a tiny TechCrunch side-project into an (often) indispensable tool of the tech community. Unbelievably, CrunchBase has enjoyed this success despite relative “benign neglect”. CrunchBase has never had a team before; it’s had part-time attention from those inside TechCrunch who, like the community, loved it and knew it meant something significant.

I think the reason CrunchBase has been so successful is because the community demanded it. It’s the avid and engaged community (you) that make CrunchBase the first place people go to learn about startups, fundings, people, and the relationships amongst them. CrunchBase has clearly been built by and for the tech community. For lack of better words, it is a Public Good.

Now that we’re growing up a little bit as a team, one of the most important things I think about is how we maintain the ethos that’s made CrunchBase successful. It’s a spirit of openness, transparency, and (above all) dedication to the CrunchBase community.

Since launching CrunchBase 2.0 on Tuesday, we’ve been flooded with feedback through Twitter, our support mailing list, and our colleagues. There’s a lot of positive feedback about the new design and simply gratitude that someone is finally pushing CrunchBase forward. At the same time, we’ve heard about some of the significant issues that need attention.

Rest assured, we’re working on them as hard as we can and it won’t be another seven years before an update…  In fact, we’re updating CrunchBase nearly every day and we’re publishing details about each release. In the spirit of remaining as open as possible with the community, here’s a list of the biggest issues we’ve heard:

What happened to Advanced Search?

We rebuilt CrunchBase 2.0 from the ground-up and some features didn’t make the initial release.  One of those features was Advanced Search.  During development and planning, our web analytics showed that relatively few people used this feature, but clearly we neglected to realize how much it was used by some of our most active users.  Our plan is to bring it back, but it will take a little time to design and implement.  We hope to have an update on our progress soon.

Why can’t I see everything about a company on one page?

The design philosophy behind CrunchBase 1.0 was about getting everything onto one page whereas CrunchBase 2.0 is about allowing people to focus on the data, encouraging users in the know to contribute more details, and creating a UI framework that works equally well on mobile and the desktop. This is a huge change in direction, but we felt that the more tightly packed the information was, the easier it was for people, in particular those who were described on a given page, to gloss over the details and just not bother updating CrunchBase. We saw this play out time and time again during usability testing where we’d show the CrunchBase 2.0 page and people could barely contain themselves telling us what data was inaccurate. When we showed them the same data on CrunchBase 1.0, they just shrugged and said it never occurred to them to update their profile because it was “mostly right”. Now, there are certainly improvements that we can make to the UX and undoubtedly that will include making it easier to access more data while not having to navigate away from a profile page.  We are taking everyone’s suggestions in and working on tweaks to the user experience.

Why do I have to re-register?

We are asking users to re-register because making changes to content in CrunchBase 2.0 requires social registration.  We are doing this so the community can eventually see the “true identity” of contributors and to help ensure high quality submissions.  And, note that we will never post anything through these social services without your permission.  Of course we could have migrated old users across, but again CrunchBase 2.0 was an MVP and this is one of the things we chose not to port over.

Why are you forcing contributors to connect with a social media profile?

As we said in the previously, we are doing this so the community can eventually see the “true identity” of contributors and to help ensure high quality submissions.  Although CrunchBase has remained relatively spam free when compared to other UGC sites, we are very focused on keeping the quality of the data as high as possible.

What happened to the “Milestone” links for a company?

In CrunchBase 1.0 all news about a company was rolled up into a section called “Milestones”.  We have renamed this to “Press Mentions” in CrunchBase 2.0 and in all honesty, it is broken right now…  Not all of the press was migrated from CrunchBase 1.0 and when that press is added to a funding round, it’s not being surfaced on a company’s profile page.  We are working on fixing that as we speak and you can track our progress here.

Why is CrunchBase 2.0 so much slower than CrunchBase 1.0?

There are a number of performance issues that we are working through on CrunchBase 2.0 and things should improve over the next week or two.  CrunchBase 2.0 is 100% new code front end code running on a 100% new backend and infrastructure and it’s taking us some time to understand where the bottlenecks are and how best to fix those.  We are committed to making CrunchBase as fast as possible for web and mobile experiences.