How grew to become the world’s hottest chess web site –

How grew to become the world’s hottest chess web site

When Erik Allebest and Jay Severson met on the third ground of Merrill Corridor at Brigham Younger College that they had no premonition they’d later spend a number of years collectively huddled over a pc writing code whereas overseeing the creation of a web-based empire now price over $500 million. 

Although they didn’t understand it then, their skilled relationship could be constructed on their shared love for the sport of chess, a typical curiosity they found when Severson — BYU’s chess membership president (and solely member) determined to “destroy” Allebest in a spherical of the sport as revenge for Allebest’s abrasive first impression. 

Following this stinging defeat on the hand of his lately acquainted floormate, Allebest supplied to pay Severson $7 an hour to offer him chess classes. 

Since their fortuitous assembly in 1995 as school freshman, the pair’s enterprise enterprise — — has develop into the world’s hottest chess web site, attracting a complete new viewers to the sport.

After years of sluggish, regular success, skilled large progress coinciding with pandemic-era lockdowns and the recognition of Netflix’s chess-drama “The Queen’s Gambit” in 2020. This progress has accelerated within the years since, with the web site reaching 100 million members in December 2022, and document ranges of site visitors in January 2023. 

“I by no means would’ve guessed in one million years that could be as huge as it’s in the present day,” Severson mentioned. Each Allebest and Severson spoke to Deseret Information about how received began, and the place they assume it’s going.

As the corporate has grown to dominate the chess world — constantly internet hosting the highest chess gamers and the sport’s most prestigious occasions — Allebest, CEO of, mentioned he feels accountability to steward the sport into the longer term, whilst current dishonest scandals threaten to undermine the web site’s credibility in its newfound function. 

Entrepreneurial beginnings

Allebest had already began a number of neighborhood facet hustles by the point he graduated from his Orange County highschool. However it was at BYU the place his entrepreneurialism and his ardour for chess started to intersect.

Between taking chess notes on 3×5 index playing cards and making an attempt to get by means of his English undergrad as rapidly as doable, Allebest would construct two chess-related firms whereas at BYU. He later offered each for over $2.5 million. 

The primary was a chess tutoring program that Allebest applied in dozens of colleges throughout Utah after returning dwelling from a church mission to Resistencia, Argentina. The second was, which Allebest recruited Severson to assist construct, establishing an expert partnership that might final over 15 years.

“It was only a fortunate yin and yang match from the beginning,” Allebest mentioned.

After a couple of years creating a chess e-commerce enterprise, Allebest’s imaginative and prescient for a enterprise mannequin centered round chess grew to become extra expansive. “I imagined a spot the place individuals might construct a chess dwelling on-line: discover pals, retailer video games, inform their chess story, share concepts, play in a secure and pleasant setting, and be taught from one another,” Allebest wrote in a weblog publish.

Allebest finally offered in 2005 and entered Stanford Enterprise Faculty, the place he had a number of alternatives to intern at well-known Silicon Valley firms. However his consideration was absorbed by one thing else: A website identify — the proper area identify.

“” was up for public sale following the chapter of its earlier proprietor. Utilizing the capital he had accrued from promoting his tutoring enterprise, Allebest purchased the area for $55,000. 

Although “” was virtually assured to end in immediate, monetizable site visitors whatever the web site’s content material, Allebest mentioned he wished to create one thing new for chess lovers. 

Severson was tougher to persuade. However because the venture progressed, and because it grew to become clear that the web site Allebest envisioned would have to be constructed from scratch, Severson determined to give up his job constructing software program for a mortgage actual property firm and develop into a full-time, unpaid, chess web site developer. Not a job description his spouse felt pleased about, he mentioned. 

‘An in a single day success 15 years within the making’

“We had no traders, we had no funding, Erik and I weren’t getting paid,” Severson mentioned. “It’s a traditional startup case the place everyone’s saying it’s a dumb concept, and behind your thoughts you’re considering, ‘Is it a dumb concept?’”

Allebest, alternatively, by no means had a doubt, he mentioned, remembering with some nostalgia sitting in Severson’s “blistering scorching, third story attic-feeling room, coding till 2 within the morning, 2:30, 3,” solely to drive dwelling, sleep, and do it over again the subsequent day. 

This went on for 2 years. Lastly, in Could 2007, the pair launched the web site, and immediately the variety of guests started to creep up. “There’s one thing thrilling about birthing one thing after which seeing it slowly develop,” Allebest mentioned. “And the truth that it was rising from the second we planted that seed — it has by no means stopped rising — and that’s the reason it has remained thrilling for me.”

Within the decade that adopted the launch of, the web site skilled regular progress. Allebest and Severson employed extra staff, acquired smaller chess firms and rolled out new options. Severson finally stepped away in 2017 to work on one other on-line gaming venture.

After which in 2020, the world found in an enormous means. 

The COVID-19 increase

“All people went indoors and lots of people began enjoying chess as one in every of their COVID-19 hobbies,” mentioned Brenan Klain, chief engagement officer at, who has been with the corporate since graduating from BYU in 2011. “All the pieces form of simply doubled proper then.” 

Really, they tripled. In March 2020, the variety of every day lively customers rose from 280,000 to 1 million. This spring spike was repeated on a better scale within the fall, following the discharge of “The Queen’s Gambit” on Netflix, a narrative about an orphaned lady who rises to develop into one of many world’s best chess gamers. At its peak, was internet hosting 6 million customers a day and a million new customers every week. 

Whereas some on-line companies that grew through the pandemic have seen their numbers drop, hasn’t had that drawback. After welcoming its one millionth member in 2010, reached 100 million members within the closing days of 2022 with a document seven million of these being lively members on Dec. 31.

A couple of weeks later, on Jan. 20, that document was damaged with 10 million lively members. The positioning now frequently hosts multiple million video games an hour. 

“Proper now we’re in a interval of the best progress in chess that now we have ever seen,” Klain mentioned. “It looks as if chess is form of hitting that most important present in society.”

A brand new period for chess

Regardless of the web site’s success over the past three years, Allebest mentioned the factor that brings him probably the most satisfaction is how has taken the sport from being “the intense factor that you just needed to be good at, to the factor you are able to do at any stage and have enjoyable with.”

Allebest factors to chess variants, like Puzzle Rush and Duck Chess, and the recognition of the lately launched AI bot, “Mittens,” as methods has made chess extra interesting for a broader viewers. 

“The truth that we actually, inside one technology, basically modified the notion of chess and its function in society, that’s what actually hits me deep down and what I’m most pleased about,” Allebest mentioned. 

Maurice Ashley, the first African American chess grandmaster and three-time nationwide championship coach, has additionally noticed this modification within the tradition and sees’s rise to dominance as an virtually fully optimistic improvement. 

“The impression that they’ve had on the chess world and proceed to have is nothing wanting outstanding for any person like myself who’s been in chess for 4 many years,” Ashley mentioned. 

Whereas Ashley praised for broadening the bottom of chess followers and supporting skilled gamers, he mentioned that the issue of synthetic intelligence-assisted dishonest, which gained consideration final 12 months due to extensively publicized scandals, might pose a menace to’s ambitions. has been criticized for dealing with dishonest allegations in personal and for permitting gamers caught dishonest to return to the web site utilizing completely different accounts. However Allebest defended the corporate’s actions, saying they’ve invested hundreds of thousands of {dollars} into creating a cheating-detection system to implement honest play and defend “the soul of the sport.”

“Now we have actually felt, each as followers and as stewards, the accountability that we actually wished to make ( the absolute best factor,” Allebest mentioned. “As a result of right here’s this treasured, superb, superior, previous, historical factor that we will have a second to impression. Now we have the area identify about this factor. We’ve received to do that proper.”

Supply hyperlink

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Previous post Inventory and Share Market Information, Financial system and Finance Information, Sensex, Nifty, World Market, NSE, BSE Stay IPO Information
Next post Inventory and Share Market Information, Financial system and Finance Information, Sensex, Nifty, World Market, NSE, BSE Reside IPO Information