Pownce, the media-rich Twitter competitor once labeled by the New York Times as “the hottest startup in Silicon Valley”, is headed to the deadpool after being acquired by Six Apart. The service, which was co-founded by Digg’s Kevin Rose along with Leah Culver and Daniel Burka, will be closing its doors on December 15. Users will be able to export their accounts to other services, allowing them to retain their messages and media, but it looks like Pownce users will have to turn to Twitter for their micro-blogging needs (if they haven’t already). Culver and Mike Malone (Pownce’s two engineers) will be integrated into the Six Apart team.
The news doesn’t come as much of a surprise – Pownce has long struggled in the shadow of Twitter in the microblogging space, despite the fact that the Pownce crew objects to being called a Twitter competitor. There were some major differences: Pownce allowed users to share photos, music, videos, events and offered niceties like an official AIR application, but its core functionality was still very similar.
We first heard about the site back in summer 2007, when it made it headlines as Rose’s secret new startup. Excitement built up to the point that invites were being sold on eBay, but by the end of the year it became clear that Pownce wasn’t catching on nearly as quickly as Twitter, and it seemed like it might be headed to the deadpool before it even launched to the public in January. Even Robert Scoble, who usually embraces social web services, hasn’t updated his account since July.
Co-founder Leah Culver has written a semi-sweet farewell to the Pownce community on the site’s blog.