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Valve and Picnik vets Hatch new idea — a no-code web design platform for ‘tech curious creators’



Hatch co-founders Darrin Massena, left, and Mike Harrington. (Danielle Barnum Photo)

The news: Longtime Seattle software developers and entrepreneurs Darrin Massena and Mike Harrington have officially launched Hatch, an online makerspace aimed at bringing website-building capability to more “tech curious creators” without requiring programming expertise.

The tech: Hatch’s no-code platform features drag-and-drop design on provided templates or a blank canvas. Creators can experiment with interactivity, animation, responsive physics, and generative AI to make websites, link pages, portfolios, games and more. Users can build with their own materials or choose from thousands of stickers, GIFs, images, videos and more.

Use cases include building sites that feature an online portfolio, a storefront, a links page, and more. Hatch projects can also launch from a device home screen as a progressive web app.

The founders: Massena and Harrington have been collaborating together since about 1986. Both spent around a decade as software developers at Microsoft, working on such things as WindowsNT and Microsoft Bob.

Harrington helped start the video game developer Valve Software in 1996 with Gabe Newell, where he was a member of the core team behind the hit “Half-Life.” Massena also got on the gaming map after co-founding Spiffcode, makers of the award-winning mobile game “Warfare Incorporated.”

The two reunited in 2005 to co-found the online photo editing service Picnik, which was acquired by Google in 2010.

A screenshot of a site being built in the Hatch web page editor. (Hatch Image)

Why now? “We’ve had a lot of success, and still had some untapped ideas that we had been kicking around for a while, looking for the right time, for the right opportunity,” Massena said of working with Harrington again. The two first started building Hatch two years ago.

“As long-term software creators, we see software itself as a creative medium,” Massena added. “We can make solutions, we can make entertainment, we can make communications tools. All these things can be made by people who are skilled in the art, who’ve gone through the educational process and know how to use the tools. And that’s something that we’ve been thinking for a long time — can we bring that to more people?”

The competition: Harrington said Hatch goes beyond other no-code website makers such as Wix or Squarespace, and others that are almost all targeted at businesses.

“In terms of no-code website builders, a lot of them are more template-y and they’re kind of stuck in the grid,” Harrington said. “You can get pretty far pretty fast if you are happy with a certain look. The thing that we do is we get you out of the grid. It’s incredibly freeform.”

An example of a portfolio page built in Hatch. (Hatch Image)

The view on artificial intelligence: Among its tools, Hatch features an AI coder which allows users to describe desired interactions and animations. Hatch writes and runs the code for the project and the user can ask for changes or edit the code themselves.

“There’s a lot of fear mongering,” Massena said of AI. “We see it just like we see software and computers … AI is another creative tool. The human is the architect or the director, saying, ‘This is what I’m trying to do.’ But having an assistant that can help you realize your vision, we think that’s a great place for AI.”

The community: Hatch allows registered users to create, publish and share pages publicly, and open source projects by making them “remixable,” which allows other users to duplicate and modify the content for their own projects.

Monetization: There are free and paid versions of the platform. A Hatch Pro account is $9 a month. That includes hosting and custom domain support; a removable Hatch watermark; 20 published projects; unlimited pages per project; and more.

The team: Hatch is bootstrapped and employs 14 people, with offices in downtown Seattle.


Source: Geek Wire

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