Crew sold to Dribbble as co-founders focus on Unsplash


In a blog post earlier today, Crew co-founder Mikael Cho announced the sale of his company to Dribbble, a community for designers, illustrators, and other creatives.

Mainly, it was so his team can focus on Unsplash, once a spinoff of Crew.

In January, Cho wrote that Unsplash and Crew would operate as separate companies. Unsplash, the curated photography platform, has since grown its current library to 175,000 photos, and receives 1.3 billion views a month. But due to the unexpected explosive growth of Unsplash, the decision was made to separate the ventures.

“We realized if we continued to operate Unsplash and Crew together as we have, we risk giving neither the focus they deserve,” wrote Cho, who chose to focus his attention on Unsplash while his co-founder Angus Woodman continued with Crew and Michael Sacca stepped into the role of President.

Since January, Unsplash has continued to grow while Crew lagged behind. Realizing that Unsplash needed a bigger budget while Crew needed more time, the founding team came to the conclusion that selling the company to someone invested in the community was the best decision.

“Unsplash has been growing at an incredible rate and we were doing it a disservice if we didn’t give it more focus. Crew, meanwhile, was also growing but not at the rate we needed it to. We weren’t profitable yet, so we needed to reduce the team and put enough money aside for what we thought was needed to get Crew in the black,” writes Cho.

They found the right person to take over Crew in Andrew Wilkinson, founder of design agency MetaLab.

“I first met Andrew a few months ago at an event. For years, I looked up to the work he and his team at MetaLab had done creating elegant products. And I loved Andrew’s philosophy on not screwing up companies he acquires. So it was a pleasant surprise when Andrew told me he just bought a majority stake in Dribbble and was interested in chatting more about possibly buying Crew.”

Dribbble CEO Zack Onisko wrote in a blog post Thursday that Sacca reached out several months ago regarding the possibility of finding  a new home for Crew.

“We got to chatting, and quickly realized that at the end of the day, Crew and Dribbble are both trying to solve the same problem: help designers find amazing work. We decided we were stronger together, so I’m excited to announce that we’re joining forces with Crew,” writes Onisko.

In the past five years, Crew has gone through two name changes, restructured their business model twice and worked with designers from over 32 countries, attracting over $40 million in projects. The company’s raised $10 million in July.

Crew opened their new office in January 2016 in Montreal’s Royal Bank Tower, which also doubles as  a co-working space and cafe for creatives.

“Over the last five years, we fought for Crew like our life depended on it. We worked out of a basement, went through 2 business model changes, and 2 name changes, all in service of creating a place where quality, creative work was valued. Crew has grown to support designers from over 32 countries, attracting over $40 million in projects. We came a long way from our Mailchimp and Wufoo days,” writes Cho.

Sacca and fellow Crew members Andrew Austin, Marlee Silverstein, and Dave Baker will join the Dribbble team while running Crew independently. They will collaborate with Dribble to build on its design community, which remains central to the platform.

“As for Unsplash, the sale of Crew means we move forward with even more focus,” writes Cho, adding that they are looking to hire new members to the team.

He concluded the blog post with words of thanks:

“I know Crew and my Crew teammates are continuing on to do great things. But it’s hard to say goodbye. I’m honoured they chose to spend years of their life fighting to make Crew happen. They took Crew to places I never imagined and I learned so much from everybody. They worked their asses off and never doubted when things got tough. I’m proud to have had the chance to work alongside them and I know there will be many more great things to come.”

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