Shane BarnhillFriday,19 October 2012

Shut Up

Shut up for a moment and praise bold thinking.

The Snap

Color, the photo-sharing startup that made headlines by raising $41 million back in 2011 (before pivoting to video-sharing), has been acq-hired. According to reports, the company’s engineering talent is being snapped up by Apple, while the remainder of Color’s assets will remain with the (shell of a) company and its investors. The acquisition ends a tumultuous run for Color, which launched to much fanfare but failed to deliver a compelling user experience.

The Download

I remember when Color launched. The hype was intense. Despite a “difficult to explain” value proposition, Color received a massive amount of funding in part due to Bill Nguyen’s entrepreneurial track record. I quickly downloaded the app, expecting something new and magical. However, it was the worst first experience that I’d ever had with an app. The sign-up process was painful, and the app was basically non-functional unless other Color users were located nearby. To make matters worse, Color launched just days after South by Southwest, which would have been the perfect venue for an app requiring a cluster of tech-savvy concurrent users. But Color missed that mark, and I had deleted the app from my phone within 2 days.

So yes, it’s true that Color made a lot of mistakes. Lousy timing. A poor UI. Unnecessary hype. Poor competitive analysis. Bad strategy. A founder who (allegedly) wouldn’t listen to feedback. The list goes on.

But none of these items bother me. Failure happens. That’s the nature of entrepreneurship, and all of the investors who sunk money into Color knew the risks going in. Instead, I’m bothered by what is left out of the story of Color’s demise: the willingness to take a bold risk by approaching the then-emerging field of location-based photo-sharing from a fresh angle. Color didn’t just release a handful of new filters and ask users to share their photos to Facebook and Twitter. Instead, the company attempted to define the very essence of a venue by capturing transient moments in time — moments that could only be viewed when physically present at a venue. These experiences were meant to be forever pinned to a location, and thus preserved for future patrons. For whatever reason (okay, maybe for many reasons), though, the concept just didn’t work. But instead of picking through the remnants of Color’s tale looking for ways to condemn Nguyen and his team, we should all pause for a moment and admire their audacity. So STFU, and take that moment now.

Hat Tips

PandoDaily, TechCrunch, Fast Company, Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Take Action!

Subscribe to get updates delivered to your inbox