tldr: We can’t keep up with everything we’ve been trying to do anymore.
Go Game Guru will keep going, but we will close the Go shop and Baduk TV. All existing customers will be looked after (see below for details).
Once all customers are happy (this will take some time to sort out), we need a break. We feel really burnt out right now.
When we come back, we will open source this site and hope to start writing about Go again (rather than only writing emails).
We started Go Game Guru because we love Go and we love sharing its magic.
Over the last six years, we’ve tried all kinds of things to raise the profile of the game and this site has changed a lot.
What began as a personal blog grew into more of a news and commentary site.
We started a commercial arm, to raise funds for promotion and to pay Younggil (and, we had hoped, other skilled players) to produce high quality Go content.
We attempted (somewhat unsuccessfully) to start a new worldwide annual event called Learn Go Week.
And we published our first Go book, Relentless.
Those of you who’ve been with us since the beginning will remember all this and more.
Somewhere along the line though, we lost sight of why we were doing this in the first place.
I’m sorry to say that it gradually became less and less about Go, and more and more about trying (desperately at times) to keep up with a hamster wheel of our own creation.
Nobody wanted this to happen, but it did anyway.
With customers all over the world and warehouses on four continents, the demands of 24 hour customer service, business administration and each country’s bureaucracy grew and choked the flow of content to a slow drip.
Days became weeks and weeks became months, and then, nothing… for almost six months.
This has been a difficult year for us.
After years of trying to promote Go, the rush of new players following the AlphaGo match was bittersweet. The fact that this was an Ing Cup year and we were too stretched to follow it or write about it makes it sting more.
We’ve come to realize that none of us actually like online retail or want to pursue it as a career. It was a means to an end, until it become an end in itself.
None of us are as young or free of responsibility as we were when we started. In my case, I have a new job and a baby to take care of at the moment.
The small amount of free time I have outside of work and family commitments is completely taken up helping customers, doing paperwork and maintaining systems for Go Game Guru.
I honestly can’t remember the last time I put a stone on a board — I think it was about a year ago — which is ludicrous to anyone who knows me.
The only way I’ve found time to post articles on Go Game Guru this year is to sacrifice sleep, which is what I did for the AlphaGo match. That’s obviously unsustainable.
Likewise, Younggil has spent almost all of his time this year replying to emails instead of sharing his knowledge of Go.
To some extent, this undesirable state of affairs was forced on us by the current realities of the Go market and the world economy. We needed more staff, but Go isn’t profitable enough to make it easy to hire and keep good people.
However, our changing personal circumstances were also a big factor.
Solving the problem
I tried for years to ensure that Go Game Guru wouldn’t be dependent on me always being there, but the last six months have clearly demonstrated that I failed in that regard.
It’s very important to us to keep this site going, so we’ve concluded that we have to simplify things and make some reluctant sacrifices.
Over the last few years, the thing we enjoyed the most was writing Relentless. Even though it wasn’t particularly successful from a commercial perspective, people who love Go appreciated it and that made it rewarding.
That insight helped us to realize that we’d rather be working on articles, videos and books about Go than the more profitable, but less rewarding, things we’ve been doing.
For Jing and I, we’d actually prefer it if this could just go back to being a hobby. We can make more money in fewer hours elsewhere, leaving more time for the things we actually want to do.
And in Younggil’s case, perhaps we as a community can explore other ways of making sure he can be paid something for his contributions. None of us want things to continue the way they’ve been going in any case.
So here’s what we’ve decided to do…
What will keep going?
We intend to keep doing the following things:
- Posting articles and videos about Go on this website (though perhaps the mix will change, and after a break)
- Writing Go books
- Publishing Go books (including bringing Hinoki books back into print and working on new books when I have time).
What has to stop?
To achieve the above, we unfortunately have to make the following sacrifices:
1. Stop running the Go shop
The only way we can keep Go Game Guru running and stay sane, while ensuring that everyone who has made orders receives them in time for Christmas, is to stop taking orders now.
As of today, any existing orders will be fulfilled and any problems (no matter how old) will be resolved.
New orders will be disabled on the website. Please don’t email us and try to argue, we will not enter into correspondence about this.
As part of this process, I have to finish work on the e-book version of Relentless, so that I can send it to everyone who bought the printed edition from us. Relentless will still be available, but from other vendors (like Amazon), without the bundled e-books and at a higher price.
About $100,000 of remaining stock will be donated to Go associations or similar Go promoting organizations. We will contact the local organizations (closest to each warehouse) after we’ve ensured that all customers have been taken care of.
This will take some time, as I also have to review months worth of emails and deal with some issues that weren’t resolved properly while I was too busy to supervise.
2. Closing Baduk TV to new customers
Our Baduk TV service will continue for the time being, with the following changes:
- We will no longer be charging existing customers
- We won’t be accepting any new customers.
Until we work something else out, the service will keep running for Baduk TV customers (excluding day pass) indefinitely.
It’s probable that the livestream will stop at some point, as the licensing for that alone is $1000/month.
When we have time, we will move the remaining content over to Youtube, so there will no longer be a paywall.
3. Stop replying to most messages
There simply isn’t enough time in the day to respond to all the emails, comments and other social media messages from the Go community.
I’m sorry to say that we will have to cut back on responding to such messages so that we have enough time to keep this site going. Please don’t take this personally.
Reaching this decision
I understand that many of you will be disappointed with this decision and I want you to know that it wasn’t taken lightly.
We kept things going for well over a year, even though we could barely keep up and had some very bad luck at times, out of a feeling of obligation to the Go community.
It was part of our mission to make Go equipment more easily available and we mostly managed to do so throughout the AlphaGo boom, despite our suppliers running out of equipment at the time.
In some places, we are the only specialist Go supplier operating locally, which makes it even harder to stop.
However, the Go market isn’t profitable enough for us to hire more quality staff to help with customer service, and every other solution we’ve tried has failed (or resulted in poor service).
We can’t simultaneously meet current expections for both service and price with these products.
What happens next?
It will likely take a while to wind things down, for the reasons outlined above.
After we’ve taken care of everything, we plan to take a break for a few months, because we’ve hardly been able to take time off for years and everyone is feeling burnt out.
When I come back, the first thing I want to do is open source the content on this site and migrate it to another platform (probably Jekyll). I realize that the number of contributors will be small, but in the long term this will make the site less dependent on me (so that this can’t happen again).
Finally, Younggil has more videos which would be great to put online and I really want to finish ‘Learn Go the Easy Way,’ and ‘Practical Haengma’ (both of which were drafted years ago).
We’ll see where things go from there, and thank you for your support over the years.