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MP and REI: Official Announcement


Original Post
Nick Wilder · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jan 2005 · Points: 3,879

I shared this announcement with MP admins yesterday, and am happy to extend the news to general community today.

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I’m excited to share that REI has made a significant investment in Adventure Projects (Mountain Project, MTB Project, Hiking Project, Trail Run Project and Powder Project).

These sites have been a long-time labor of love - Mountain Project started over 10 years ago. I am incredibly lucky to be able to combine my professional passion with my outdoor pursuits. But as the sites grow, so does the overhead. While it’s a good challenge to build a business, the real joy for me is building the products. REI is the perfect fit for a parent company: they will remove the toll of taxes, accounting, insurance, legal issues and general overhead. They want us to simply focus on building great products and to do more of what we love to do.

I've been an REI member since I got my first job, I've volunteered at many trail work days they organize, and I've indirectly benefited from the support they give to a myriad of outdoor nonprofits. While we’re nowhere the size of REI, we’re serious about these things too, and our work with IMBA, the Access Fund, Outdoor Alliance, Winter Wildlands, and others will continue stronger than ever - REI is a major financial supporter of all of them.

My experiences have made me a believer in REI's mission: “to outfit and educate for a lifetime of outdoor adventure and stewardship”. Adventure Projects has a perfectly complimentary mission: to help most of those same people find the best trails and climbs and to get more enjoyment out of these special experiences.

REI is not "taking over" and there won't be many changes, though we're finally going to get a small office in Boulder and hire a few more people. We will be able to hire Sam (our long-time mobile app developer), our first-ever web designer, and a web engineer to help me out. Most importantly, we have the backing we need to keep maintaining and improving the sites. I, and the others at Adventure Projects, are committed to this for the long haul (we couldn't dream up better jobs), and are excited about this new phase. As for the product, we will be removing many ads (half are gone already), including all of the less desirable Google ads. We will finally build features that have been on our list for years. Lots of good stuff coming!

Nick Wilder · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jan 2005 · Points: 3,879

And to answer some questions that have already come up:

  • All the relationships we have with local shops (and independent brands) will remain unchanged. REI is well aware of local shops' importance in the communities and wants to support them even though they're obviously competitors.
  • The giant next project is a complete overhaul of MP. It was mostly written 10 years ago, before we understood smart phones and modern coding techniques. It's a nightmare to maintain and there are fatal design flaws at the lowest levels of code and database architecture. As it gets re-done, we'll add lots of small features such as better tick-list functionality, better To-Do list management, etc.
  • Sam has been building the app in his spare time for the last several years. Now that we can actually give him a paycheck (and health care!), we can make a lot of improvements there, both in design and functionality.
  • In the long term, we will add optional abilities to track what your friends are climbing (and doing in other sports). This isn't fleshed out yet...
  • There will be nothing like a paywall or any attempt to monetize MP more. The exact opposite is happening (ads are already cut in half, as noted above). REI wants to be engaged in outdoor sports at a deeper level. This isn't about monetizing MP or it's content.
Rick Blair · · Denver · Joined Oct 2007 · Points: 266

Anyone who is wringing their hands over this but posts on facebook or has a gmail account is an idiot.

Congratulations to the MP creators!

Andy Librande · · Denver, CO · Joined Nov 2005 · Points: 1,880

Congrats!!! Keep doing what you guys are doing!

Austin Baird · · SLC, Utah · Joined Apr 2009 · Points: 95

I couldn't be happier for you. Congrats.

If you wouldn't mind answering, I'm curious how much time you've put into MP and how much money you've sunk into these sites with little expectation of a return. It's easy to prattle about joining a community when you don't have to spend your time and money building it.

Seth Jones · · New Lenox, IL · Joined Feb 2015 · Points: 25

Congrats guys!

jacob m s · · Provo, Utah · Joined Apr 2011 · Points: 100

sounds like a good direction, and a good business move. Thanks for the hard work in putting together this site.

Finn The Human · · The Land of Ooo · Joined Jul 2008 · Points: 106
Nick Wilder wrote: * The giant next project is a complete overhaul of MP. It was mostly written 10 years ago, before we understood smart phones and modern coding techniques. It's a nightmare to maintain and there are fatal design flaws at the lowest levels of code and database architecture. As it gets re-done, we'll add lots of small features such as better tick-list functionality, better To-Do list management, etc.
Very exciting! Congrats.
J. Albers · · Colorado · Joined Jul 2008 · Points: 1,791

Nick, this is an honest question.

What happens if we the community members try and remove our content? Does that actually remove it or does REI have a backup of all of the content that they can use in perpetuity whether we like it or not?

To be clear, I am most certainly not a conspiracy theory type, but I won't lie, I don't trust any company to act in the best interests of anyone but themselves. Thus I think most folks around here would like to know the terms and conditions under which the content that they have or will in the future donate (it is after all a donation of time, effort, and knowledge). I think I probably speak for many around here in thinking that we the content providers didn't mind donating our efforts to the community when the content was owned by actual members of the community (i.e. you, Andy, and the rest of the MP community). But REI is not part of our community. In other words, when I added content I was implicitly trusting your and Andy's judgement. I do not afford REI that level of trust and thus I would like to know in more detail what is going to happen to our donations.

Nick Wilder · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jan 2005 · Points: 3,879
Austin Baird wrote:I couldn't be happier for you. Congrats. If you wouldn't mind answering, I'm curious how much time you've put into MP and how much money you've sunk into these sites with little expectation of a return. It's easy to prattle about joining a community when you don't have to spend your time and money building it.
I probably can't start answering every question, but I know this will be common one so I'll share a little. I also don't want to get in a defensive mode, because this really is an excellent move for the benefit of MP, but I do want people to realize that, even with the enormous help of Admins and user-generated content, building this isn't trivial, cheap, or even sustainable in the long term.

I've put in the equivalent of 8 full time work-years of unpaid work (and several more from Andy) into the site and nearly 7 figures in cash. We've had income in the last couple years that has gone towards one full time employee and a little to Sam for the building the mobile apps (largely enabled by Black Diamond), and some to part-time employees that manage content on the new sites.

As I've said before, I'm incredibly lucky that I can combine my work and play passions, and this will keep it going for the long term.
Nick Wilder · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jan 2005 · Points: 3,879
J. Albers wrote:Nick, this is an honest question. What happens if we the community members try and remove our content? Does that actually remove it or does REI have a backup of all of the content that they can use in perpetuity whether we like it or not? To be clear, I am most certainly not a conspiracy theory type, but I won't lie, I don't trust any company to act in the best interests of anyone but themselves. Thus I think most folks around here would like to know the terms and conditions under which the content that they have or will in the future donate (it is after all a donation of time, effort, and knowledge). I think I probably speak for many around here in thinking that we the content providers didn't mind donating our efforts to the community when the content was owned by actual members of the community (i.e. you, Andy, and the rest of the MP community). But REI is not part of our community. In other words, when I added content I was implicitly trusting your and Andy's judgement. I do not afford REI that level of trust and thus I would like to know in more detail what is going to happen to our donations.
I would encourage you to think more broadly. All our efforts and shared content are "donations" to fellow climbers. There are SO many great climbs I would not find if not for MP. So many people I wouldn't have met. So much bragging about the 5.7s I tick on MP.

That's not going away or even changing, and REI is making sure that we remain a sustainable benefit to us climbers. Totally fine if you don't want to support their business, but it's worth considering that a truly "community-owned" resource of this size and complexity is not a reality. It takes money and time, and I firmly believe there is a no better source than a member-owned co-op that gives most of it's income back to outdoor non-profits.
Cornelius Jefferson · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 100
Nick Wilder wrote: I would encourage you to think more broadly. All our efforts and shared content are "donations" to fellow climbers. There are SO many great climbs I would not find if not for MP. So many people I wouldn't have met. So much bragging about the 5.7s I tick on MP. That's not going away or even changing, and REI is making sure that we remain a sustainable benefit to us climbers. Totally fine if you don't want to support their business, but it's worth considering that a truly "community-owned" resource of this size and complexity is not a reality. It takes money and time, and I firmly believe there is a no better source than REI.
...didn't really answer the question...

Does REI now own the user-created content? Assuming the answer is yes, if we don't want REI to have it can we remove it permanently? I know we 'agreed' to MP's terms but the landscape has changed dramatically since many of us joined. Please speak to this.
Dr. Long Arm · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 15

Congrats guys!

Dylan B · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2010 · Points: 50

You refer to REI as an "investor" suggesting that you guys are still part-owners. May I ask, is REI now the majority shareholder? Voting shares or a silent partner? Who's calling the shots now?

Might be none of my business, so feel free to tell me to bugger off.

Nick Wilder · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jan 2005 · Points: 3,879
Cornelius Jefferson wrote: ...didn't really answer the question... Does REI now own the user-created content? Assuming the answer is yes, if we don't want REI to have it can we remove it permanently? I know we 'agreed' to MP's terms but the landscape has changed dramatically since many of us joined. Please speak to this.
As always, since the days of climbingboulder.com, you own your content and continue to forever. You are granting the company a license to use it according to our terms. We have no current plans to use it differently in the future, but for example, before the iPhone, we had no conception of mobiles apps, and now we use the content there, so things do change.

We delete user accounts upon request. Their contributed data is handled on a case-by-case basis. Sometimes it is deleted and sometimes it is assigned to the "orphaned user".
Mike · · Phoenix · Joined May 2006 · Points: 2,615
Nick Wilder wrote: I would encourage you to think more broadly. All our efforts and shared content are "donations" to fellow climbers. There are SO many great climbs I would not find if not for MP. So many people I wouldn't have met. So much bragging about the 5.7s I tick on MP. That's not going away or even changing, and REI is making sure that we remain a sustainable benefit to us climbers. Totally fine if you don't want to support their business, but it's worth considering that a truly "community-owned" resource of this size and complexity is not a reality. It takes money and time, and I firmly believe there is a no better source than a member-owned co-op that gives most of it's income back to outdoor non-profits.
Cornelius Jefferson wrote: ...didn't really answer the question... Does REI now own the user-created content? Assuming the answer is yes, if we don't want REI to have it can we remove it permanently? I know we 'agreed' to MP's terms but the landscape has changed dramatically since many of us joined. Please speak to this.
Yes I would like this question answered as well please. Also from the other thread... So does that mean that REI could legally take down the website, then print & sell it's own mega-guidebook with MP.com's database? I understand you feel that they won't, but can they?

EDIT: It looks like you already (kind of) answered one of the questions. Slow-typer problems, always lagging behind.
M Sprague · · New England · Joined Nov 2006 · Points: 5,014

So now REI members each own a little bit of MP.

REI company overview

J. Albers · · Colorado · Joined Jul 2008 · Points: 1,791
Nick Wilder wrote: As always, since the days of climbingboulder.com, you own your content and continue to forever. You are granting the company a license to use it. We have no current plans to use it differently in the future, but for example, before the iPhone, we had no conception of mobiles apps, and now we use the content there, so things do change. We delete user accounts upon request. Their contributed data is handled on a case-by-case basis. Sometimes it is deleted and sometimes it is assigned to the "orphaned user".
Nick, thanks for trying to answer the question in your follow up post. To be clear, I do understand why you guys sold MP and I do really, really appreciate all that you and Andy have done to maintain the site over the years. Indeed MP is a wonderful community resource. To be honest, in the end I probably won't care enough to remove my content, but it is important for people to know whether they have the choice to remove their content if it becomes clear that REI is running the site in a way that they find disagreeable. Now I realize that MP always had the choice about whether to remove the content or not, but before the situation was such that we were solely relying on you and Andy to moderate that choice. Now however (as CJ pointed out earlier), we have to trust REI, which is a totally different situation. And you and the other site Admins just need to understand that this is a crucial change that makes some of us a bit nervous. I mean, its not as if corporations exactly have a good track record of looking out for consumers, you know?

And if I gather from your post correctly, REI can technically keep my content whether I like it or not? Is that correct? I know you believe in their intentions, but again pardon my jaded view of corporate responsibility... In the end, I really think a concise answer to my question above is what most concerned people on this thread are trying to understand.

I guess we shall see how it goes. Again, thanks for trying to address our questions and I hope things work out...it would be a shame to see MP falter in the future. Cheers.
Tyson Anderson · · SLC, UT · Joined May 2007 · Points: 120

Does the return policy come with the acquisition? I no longer have a need for Hellenor.

Abram Herman · · Grand Junction, CO · Joined May 2009 · Points: 20

Congrats to Andy and Nick! Don't listen to the naysayers—you've done an amazing thing for the climbing community's access to information. I'm happy to see you being rewarded for your efforts, finally.

Jeff Scofield · · Yorba Linda, CA · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 310

Well congrats MP is best on line source for beta hands down I appreciate all the work you guys have done for the community!!!

Funny though of all the companies REI buys MP. Seems they are backing out of the climbing arena.
Anyways congrats and good luck MP Guys!

Jeff

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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