As the Internet has evolved over the past few decades, the way websites are built has been stuck in the dial-up age. With all of the innovations and advancements in the way we interact with the web, website building has become a common pain point as development design is still restricted by the arbitrary boundaries of the early-web.
Over the years valiant efforts have been made. Sadly, these efforts have not lived up to their own promises of an open, portable, shareable web. Unicorn startups like Webflow have tried to convince us that a design-centric/no-code approach means that anyone can build a powerful functional website. Under the hood, these customizations are still more complex than the average user can handle.
Meanwhile, WYSIWYG OGs like Squarespace and Wix continue to insist that all you need are their rigid templates. With their unoriginal styles and fonts, reliance on these platforms has made a lot of websites today look equally unoriginal. Neither has made it particularly easy for non-developers to strike the perfect balance between customization and functionality.
And yet all of the millions of websites on these WYSIWYG/no-code platforms combined, still make up a fraction of the 500K+ websites still built and maintained on Wordpress or written independently off-platforms every day. Because of the way Wordpress sites need to be written, developers literally cannot take code for a section, design or interaction they have already written for one website and use it as the base in another. This unnecessary repetition of efforts means it takes longer to build and update these websites.
Enter The.com — a reimagined website builder for an era of modern web development. Think “Legos for Web Design”. With their lightweight interface, The.com has struck the balance between rigidity for non-developers (let’s call them Curators) and customizability for developers (let’s call them Creators)
The.com’s superpower is their revolutionary Cell and Block based architecture. You can think of Cells as variables or attributes, and Blocks as a collection of these cells that constitute a standalone element or interaction. When you combine several Blocks, you get a functional Page which you can further customize (or choose not to) based on your development skill level.
Unlike today's web where you either start with a black canvas or a constructed template, The.com allows Creators to quickly develop and deliver on projects and Curators to “remix” websites by combining Blocks from all over the web to make their own Pages. Down the road, it's not hard to imagine that individual Blocks or collections could have their own robust marketplace with creators getting paid whenever their Blocks are used by a new site. The timing to launch a platform that allows Creators to share and monetize their work more meaningfully couldn’t be better.
To help further their vision of a shareable web, Today, VSC Ventures is thrilled to announce our investment in The.com! We met co-founders Jeff and Clarke McKinnon through our friends and frequent collaborators at NFX and were immediately drawn to their vision of an open website architecture.
With their 7-plus years building a successful web development agency, facing and overcoming daily challenges with existing tools on behalf of their clients, the McKinnon 's founder-market fit couldn 't be clearer. Just as an example, the founders realized how isolated and disconnected solo/freelance web developers might feel especially today. So they decided to make community building a key priority of their work. In their Twitter Spaces, Slacks and Discords they facilitate developers sharing best practices building websites, navigating client work, and just celebrating each other's successes.
To me, these serial entrepreneur brothers are productizing their decade of learnings into a better platform with The.com and we couldn 't be more thrilled to work with them on this vision. One of the first things Jeff said to me during our diligence discussions was “the web today is built and maintained by the unsung and unknown” which has really stayed with me.
We 're excited for a future where these developers won 't remain unsung. VSC Ventures is confident that The.com is the right company to usher in this new era.