Great web sites that were lost to the dark side.
I want to create a list of web ideas that died – whether fading away gracefully or collapsing in a flurry of fall-outs and fail whales. Please help me by adding your lost tech/web businesses to the list.
Email me the details (written to a similar length and format as below, please).
Here are some to get the ball rolling…
Concept Sue Greenwood, built by developers Byteflex
Launched October 2006. Switched off mid-2009
When it worked it was (possibly?) the UK’s first user-generated news website. Idea was that users would write their own news and share it, adding videos and pictures and with a craigslist-style classified ads system supporting costs. Tagline: ‘Your news, your way’.
Why it didn’t work? “I think UGC is/was a dead duck. People want the approbation that comes from a journalist interviewing them, few people want to write their own story. I didn’t appreciate then how uncomfortable most people are with writing anything longer than a text or a tweet. We should have made it easier for users to write short notes, post pictures, videos etc. With hindsight, I needed to be more focused on the sharing and less on the news.” Sue Greenwood 21/11/11
OEMExchange (originally www.oemexchange.com)
Concept Greg finney, Tim Weaver, Brent Hobson
Launched 1996. Abandoned 1999.
When it worked it was the first global B2B on-line auction site aimed squarely at the electronic industry. OEM (manufacturers) would post their excess and obsolete inventory for anonymous intra-company auction – reducing scrap and write-offs. Membership was free, with a percentage commission on sales transactions. Pre-dated e-bay and Quixcell and VCE in Europe.
Why it didn’t work? “The senior buyers and stock controllers who “owned” the stock didn’t have the time, motivation or age-profile to learn how to use this new fangled internet thing. Easier to fax-off a list to their regular brokers and cut deals on the phone as they’d always done. An early “Freemium” service called Broker-Forum also burst onto the scene in the US taking the legs out from under us.
“On reflection, we came out relatively unscathed and managed to turn a decent profit during the period we traded but in the end were wise to pull the plug whilst on-top.” Greg Finney 22/11/11
Spin-IT / 360-IT
Concept Greg Finney, Tim Weaver, Brent Hobson, Tim Jones
Launched 1998. Abandoned 2002
When it worked it was an early attempt at using the web to deliver 360degree panorama photography, and 360 degree product photography in the UK. Great looking products with immediate customer attraction, including some main high street fashion brands.
Why it didn’t work? “Three reasons. 1. Sales costs and post-production image processing costs far outstripped what customers like hotels, golf-courses and retailers were prepared to pay for an innovative (read scary and new) marketing channel (i.e. the internet) 2. 14.4K Baud Modems we’re way too slow to deliver the content. 3. Browsers required custom player modules to make it work – no good for consumer application at that time. Basically ahead of its time, but even today this stuff has never gone mainstream like video.” Greg Finney 22/11/11
Concept Ben Dowling, Michael Ferguson
Launched September 2010, abandoned November 2011
When it worked it was a great new social geolocation app, with the emphasis on social. Adding data from establised location review services like Yelp and Qype, to create a real-time picture of what was happening around you, with a ‘friend locater’ to tell what your friends were up to.
Why it didn’t work? “When we first started it was obvious [location] was going to be an interesting area but 12 months later, when we were looking to raise money, the space had really filled up, It had become increasingly competitive and a lot of the investors wanted to see some serious traction. We had good traction but not at the levels they liked to see. The reasons for that are because we did too many things. We thought people would want to install just one thing rather than lots of things but actually people are ok downloading lots of different apps for different things.” Ben Dowling 07/02/2012 Interview with Ben