I know this is a really big surprise to you, it still is for me, and I want to share with you the history behind this decision…
This was easily the hardest decision I had to make in my life so far and I’m still full of mixed feelings but I also believe that it is a change for the better that had to happen sooner or later. LumberJocks will be five years old in February and it has been growing quite rapidly all this time. That not only includes the impressive growth of membership and traffic but also the growth of the features and content. I really never thought that LJ would become this big and I learned many lessons along the way. With the increased membership and activity came increased responsibility and even more work. I suddenly found myself spending a lot of hours on the site maintenance – be it content policing or resolving small daily issues – and was slowly losing my passion that was driving LJ in the first years. I didn’t want to admit it but I was in need of some change. Also, due to my involvement in other projects I didn’t have enough energy to grow the team as it needed.
In early June I found an email from Escalate Media COO Lee Dodd in my inbox. He asked me how things were going in LumberJocks and that he’d like to discuss the possibility of acquisition if I was interested. This was the third acquisition offer email I received last year but this one was different. I liked the friendly tone and the following sentence got me interested: “We have no intention of coming in with big changes and have interest in continuing to work with you”. Another plus was that Escalate Media is a company with a proven track record focusing on cultivating online communities so there would be no danger in twisting the LumberJocks independence in the woodworking industry. As Lee and I started talking during the next weeks it was clear that Escalate Media has a solid team and know-how in the areas that I was in need of for keeping LumberJocks as a valuable website. In short, it offered the leverage that I was lacking.
Despite all these logical reasons it wasn’t an easy process. I simply couldn’t imagine working on LJ with another team but the more we talked the more sense it all started to make. Lee reiterated numerous times that their main intention is having Debbie and I continue working on the LJ, HR and GT by providing us enough resources and support so we can do again what we like most – planning, brainstorming and working on new features.
Since one of my key requirements was keeping Debbie in our team I asked her to share her take on this with you:
“I am really excited about the possibilities that are now sitting at the doorstep for our communities. This positive feeling wasn’t my first reaction. Originally I was surprised, shocked, and hoping that the vision for the CreativeHands Network would continue on as it had been. But, as discussions with Escalate Media unfolded I began to see that the vision could blossom and grow beyond expectations. And a little glimmer of intrigue began growing and I am now thoroughly excited about what has started to unfold and what the future holds. This will be a “win/win/win” situation for everyone – our members (present and future), the sites as a whole, Martin, and Escalate Media.”
And, now, who else can better introduce Escalate Media to you than Lee himself and Nathan who oversees the Building and Home & Garden verticals.
Lee: “I am so very excited to be a part of these great communities. We have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Martin over the prior months and really feel like we can come on board and assist him with the continued growth and improvement of LJ, HR, and GT. This truly is a great step forward for the future of these great communities. We want to free up Martin’s creativity and see his passion reignited to really enjoy the great communities he has nurtured over the years. The Escalate Media team looks forward to getting our feet wet and getting to know the community over the coming weeks and months.”
Nathan: “I’ve been an admirer of the LumberJocks community for many years now. I myself have experience starting and growing communities so I know how much hard work goes into them and Martin has done an amazing job. Not only is LJ, HR, and GT full of friendly people the site itself has some amazing features that make it stand out from other communities. I’m very excited to be able to work with Martin and Debbie going forward and I know as a team we can do great things. Please feel free to ask me any questions that you may have and I’ll try to answer them below.”
To all our members, I thank all of you for being part of this special community and I will continue to do my best to keep it special for all of us.