October 1, 2007
Sheri Winestock and I launched BBO in early 2001. At the time BBO was more of an experiment than anything else. We had no idea of what this experiment would become and we had no plans to turn our experiment into a real business.
The experiment worked and BBO grew...
Later that year Uday Ivatury, a friend of ours, a fellow bridge player and a gifted programmer, volunteered to help Sheri and me improve the BBO software. We were so impressed with Uday that we did not want to lose him. We offered to make him a partner in BBO if he would stay on board.
Uday stayed on board, the software improved, and BBO grew...
By the end of 2003 BBO had grown to the point that it was getting expensive for us to run. We needed to find a way to pay the bills. To that end, in June of 2004 we introduced our first $1 tournaments in the hope that the entry fees would help to cover our costs.
This plan worked and BBO continued to grow...
Much to our surprise, BBO grew into a real business. It grew to the point that it was too much for Sheri, Uday, and me to handle on our own. By the time 2007 rolled around, we knew we had to find some new business partners if the growth was to continue.
I am proud to announce that, as of September 1 2007, BBO officially has three new partners: Bill Gates, Sharon Osberg, and David Smith. Uday and I are still shareholders in our company. In fact, I remain the single largest shareholder, but Sheri is no longer an owner of BBO and she will soon be winding down the work she does for us (running our office among other things).
Bill, Sharon, and David all have impressive business credentials. Their experience, knowledge, and wisdom will help ensure that we make the best possible decisions for the future of our site. All three of our new partners are longtime BBO members, have executive management backgrounds, and are avid bridge players. Sharon has won multiple World Championships.
From my point of view this is about the best thing that could have happened for Sheri and me personally, for BBO and its members, and for bridge itself. Having business partners who truly care about our game, have been trusted friends for years, and who are as smart as these three is simply a dream come true.
Don't expect immediate, sweeping changes in BBO because of our restructuring. Rest assured that the elements of BBO that are free now will remain free. And we remain committed to providing excellent value to our players who enjoy our premium services.
Our primary mission will be to continue to provide bridge players from all over the world with the best possible online home. Our software and service will continue to get better - expect to see some exciting news on these fronts in the months to come.
Finally, let me take a moment to thank all of you for playing a role in helping to make BBO the site that it is today. Our past growth has been exciting, but I think that this is only the beginning. The future looks bright for BBO. I sincerely hope that you will be a part of it.
Fred Gitelman, President
Bridge Base Online, Ltd.