This is really great information @maitland, and more importantly it's great to get some transparency behind the team working on SteemIt.com as well as the rest of the Steem platform.
Currently one of the biggest drawbacks to Steem (in my opinion) is a lack of a clear roadmap / timeline / transparency about the plans for the future and the work being done.
Are you and Ben SteemIt, Inc employees, or are you contractors, or how does that work? I would really appreciate any information you can share on this subject.
Also I think I can speak for the entire Steem community when I say THANK YOU for all of the work you are doing and for making a post like this with great information for other developers to create their own sites and services on top of the Steem blockchain!