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2010/08/16 INTERVIEWS INTERVIEWS

Message from loftwork

message from loftwork

loftwork.com Ver7.0 toward the Evolution

Mitsuhiro Suwa / loftwork Inc. co-founder CEO

Mitsuhiro Suwa

Mitsuhiro Suwa

loftwork.com started in 2000. Almost 11 years have passed since then (amazing!). Our website might be one of the oldest web services in Japan. Some features are added and others were removed during the 11 years. Only a few people will remember that our website had features in the past which allowed creators to sell their products directly, recruit people for work, and crowdsource the creative process.

On the other hand, features such as giving the creator an e-mail address, allowing creators to collaborate online with each other, the auction feature, and countless others, were ditched during development (LOL).

This is the 7th Version. At first glance, you may think it differs very little from the older versions, but this renewal is a large-scale upgrade.

We drastically changed not only the obvious things such as design and UI, but also the more basic, foundational parts of the website. We used Microsoft .NET Framework as the platform of loftwork.com for the last few years for the scratch development of various features. This time, we abandoned them altogether and decided to use AmazonEC2, as used by WordPress and BuddyPress – an open-source communication platform used on a worldwide level. We also constructed the website using our own original plugin.

loftwork.com has gained four advantages with this major change: global response, flexibility to a heavy load and a slow speed, continual evolution, and cooperation with external services.

We will offer a detailed explanation on these four advantages at another time. The main point of the renewal is not only the added features, but “enhancing the platform.” We changed its basic structure altogether in other to develop the platform as we like. With this change, loftwork can dynamically develop the service more than ever. We embark on new services such as the provision of customized environment, creators’ transmission of information from Japanese into foreign languages more readily, and the selling of digital contents directly across the world.

Because we just launched the β version, we may trouble some creators with service changes and bugs. But in the near future, we promise to offer a variety of exciting services to you.

Please excuse the formality and seriousness of this announcement. With this renewal, we think that the changes will grow on you slowly. Thank you very much for continuing to use loftwork.com


“Yacht in Bahama! ”

Chiaki Hayashi / loftwork Inc. co-founder and PMO

Chiaki Hayashi

This blurb was written in big font on the first loftwork.com administration screen.

“Let’s go public with loftwork and live in luxury on a yacht in the Bahamas…” is not what it meant. If you just have internet access, you can work anywhere, live anywhere. loftwork was born from the desire to make that kind of liberated lifestyle possible, and the engineer in charge of development at the time interpreted it in his own way and placed that blurb on the page as “loftwork’s Mission Statement.” Every time you logged in there it was. “Yacht in Bahama!” Each time, I imagined creative professionals active all over the world and traveling freely.

Suwa and I started “loftwork.com” in 2000. Now it is the main creative network in Japan, but in the beginning it was little more than a network for Suwa and my friends. Even after asking college and high school friends, relatives, creators met in the free market, younger art school graduates, and finally our own mothers we only had about 50 members. Considering we were aiming to be the biggest network on the planet, we started out as quite a sad little community.

The first time we showed good growth was with our 2001 “New Year’s Cards by Creators•Designers” project. We collected New Year’s card designs from our registered creators, and printed and sold them on an on demand basis. This was an on demand printing business in 2001, so it stood out. We quickly grew to having several hundred registered creators. And while our profits were only slight, it led to orders for New Year’s card materials from major companies. Even now we’re developing New Year’s card designs for mixi and the Japanese postal service, all thanks to this initial project.

Our 2007 adoption of creative commons was also an important step. We were able to offer a platform in the internet age where creators could provide content with peace of mind, and make fans and find business opportunities all over the world.

However our site had been developed from scratch, so response problems and slow downs with version upgrades developed, causing major headaches. “We’ve got so many more creators on board now and they’re expecting so much, so how do we improve the service…”

loftwork.com Version 7 solves those problems, making a creative network that can spread throughout the entire world.

Bilingual support will allow registration by creators abroad. We’re crossing borders and becoming a global creative network. For those creators not confident in their English we are preparing translation services. We’re greatly strengthening our creative commons support, and the “portfolio function” that allows works to be showcased for job purposes.

Furthermore we’re replacing our servers and databases, for a base that will allow speedy version upgrades in the future. We focused not on system development, but on what kind of value we could offer through the design and interface. We think this is the biggest and best version upgrade to date.

And, we’ve thought of a new mission statement for loftwork.

“Challenge the world with your Creativity!”

Using loftwork, creators can compete on a global level. They can connect with the whole world. That is the kind of platform we want to create.

Our founding dream of “yachting in the Bahamas,” seems about to come true. 10 years feels like a long time, but also like no time at all. I’m sure you all will enjoy it as well.

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