Flameouts of 7 promising startups


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Not flamed out? GNU. That’s kinda cool.


The book All the rave: the rise and fall of Shawn Fanning’s Napster was pretty fascinating and, I think, pretty revealing of some of the many things that went wrong with it. As I recall Napster was approached by various entities who saw many uses for an easy file-sharing program but Fanning’s uncle was determined that it should only be for music.


Remember SixDegrees? No one seems to mention SixDegrees. I guess its name just isn’t catchy.


Their reasons behind the flameouts are not really the best researched, unfortunately.
boo didn’t collapse because people weren’t ready for internet clothes shopping, it could have been a success if it wasn’t for the horribly bloated website that was more or less unusable on dial-up connections. A number of companies went that way in the early days of the web, optimising for cool points and shininess on the corporate LAN tended to be a huge mistake when people’s tubes were a lot narrower.


I always wondered what MAFO meant.


I remember SixDegrees.

I also remember when Friendster apparently became a big thing, I never joined because no one could give me a description that didn’t sound like an imitation of SixDegrees.


I have only the vaguest memory of them. When they launched, I thought they had something to do with Kevin Bacon.


More that 90 percent of startups fail. Unless you can accept that, you probably shouldn’t start one, since even the ones that succeed often have to pivot hugely away from their original ideas to do so.


I remember SixDegrees. A friend invited me to join, but I couldn’t get SixDegrees to load well enough to join.


Pshaw! Here in Austin the churn rate is 7 flameouts a week. Srsly.

So many dot-coms inside and outside the dot-booms that dot-busted: mismanaged by a triumvirate of shiny Harvard MBAs (that was my first experience as a coder, watching a slow-motion Chapter 11 and collapse), VCs who call it early, or fold when the markets dip and their liquidity dries up.

In our closet and cupboards and drawers are many legacy swag t-shirts, drink bottles and mugs, tote bags, pens, penlights, etc. bearing the logos and taglines and URLs of the many startups that have fallen by the wayside.

I’ve made the joke to DH more than once that all those dead hard drives we’re stacking up against our own office’s server closet walls can pave our dang driveway. After we’ve plucked out the rare earth magnets, of course.


Yeah I think fliker started as a game.


Don’t forget Kozmo.com. It was so early, one of my prized NYC thrift store finds from the early 2000s was a Kozmo.com t-shirt, which I proudly/ironically wore around pre-gentrification Williamsburg.

I’m so old I got rid of that t-shirt a damn decade ago. You SF kids get off my lawn!


On the other hand, We the People spoke up back then and we spoke up in code, the most efficient language to air such grievances.

Wrapster was born, an utility to wrap a binary file (usually a .zip) to look as a MP3 to the Napster software. And generic files were shared away.

Of course, a good manager would watch for such developments and follow the desires of the people.


Thank you. That was the second of three startups I worked for that didn’t make me rich. :slightly_smiling:

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