2 years ago Chris asked Tim and I to work with him on a weekend project. Chris creates lots of code demos while writing CSS-Tricks. He was inspired and frustrated by JSFiddle and wanted to do something better.
The weekend project became CodePen and CodePen became my fulltime job.
JSFiddle is still free.
CodePen has a fremium business model. This means most of the application is free except for a few features CodePen PRO users pay for.
Competing against free seems impossible. CodePen's PRO plan ($9/month) is infinitely more expensive than free.
Our ad revenue doesn't support 3 developers. How could we persuade developers to pay for our product when there is a free as in FREE alternative? How could we ever be the cheapest option?
The secret is that developers don't just spend money. They spend their time. Free products do have a cost.
CodePen costs $9/month.
The average programmer salary is greater than $100k. At $100k/year, that's $8.3K/month.
Assuming a developer works 160 hours a month (40hrs/week), they are making almost $52 an hour.
$9 (the prices of CodePen) is 17.3% of $52 dollars.
17.3% of an hour is roughly 10 minutes.
I apologize for the terribly American math. It's what I know.
If CodePen can save developers 10 minutes a month more than the free alternatives it's worth the price.
Full time support staff (everyone in the company does support), a great user experience, asset hosting and live updates in multiple devices are a few of the ways that CodePen saves developers time.
CodePen's goal is to be the speediest place to learn and share front end code on the web.
Understanding what our users are paying and expect to receive helps us understand how to become the best value. Free doesn't have to be the cheapest option.