Sometimes startups shut down fast, and in the case of new online scrapbooking maker Irrive, which only launched this past September, the company had barely even gotten started before closing up shop. According to CEO Steven Cohn, who sold his last startup to LivingSocial, he made the decision to quickly pivot (his word, not mine, by the way), because even though Irrive’s metrics were good, the viral event of sharing a scrapbook was too infrequent an action.
“I didn’t feel we would get the scale we needed to build a big business,” he says. “So we are pivoting while we still have the resources to achieve success.” The new product he’s building is in the B2B space, and Cohn declined to provide further details, only saying that none of Irrive’s previous technology would be used in the new creation.
Irrive was too young to ever gain real traction, but it was offering a fairly attractive site where users could create online scrapbooks of life events, like parties, weddings, vacations, etc. Now users have until January 31 to retrieve their photos. And yes, only their photos. According to the email sent out to Irrive’s user base, users are now instructed to login to Irrive, click on a scrapbook, hover over an images and click on “download original photo.”
So much for your customization efforts, folks.
While I’m sure that Cohn is doing the right thing for his company, it’s representative of a larger trend in the photo-sharing space which users should be aware of, before committing their time to these services. In around a year’s time, ZangZing has gone, Gush folded, ThisLife just sold to Shutterfly, and Snapjoy went to Dropbox, for example. PictureLife, meanwhile, is newly funded, and Everpix is also still hanging in there. The two are offering different services – the former is about aggregation and photo storage, while the latter is about extracting the signal (good photos) from the noise (your giant photo archive). 500px seems to be doing okay, too. But for how long?
“Still existing” doesn’t necessarily mean there haven’t been exit opportunities for startups building in the photo-sharing space, and at some point, early adopters will likely get burned when their favorite photo startups hit the end of their runway or are approached with an offer they can’t refuse. (Unless the community has already achieved the scale of something like Instagram, of course, which is rare.)
For something like photos – and specifically, companies who encourage you to “create” using your photos, as Irrive did – you have to wonder if it was even worth it? Maybe you should have just stuck with iPhoto/Picasa/Flickr/Dropbox, etc. and printed out those pictures you cared about at Walgreens for safe keeping. It’s an increasingly risky game to spend your time handing over your photos to early-stage companies, then building new things, in the hopes that your nifty collages, scrapbooks, mashups, videos, organized collections, etc., will be around long-term.
Feel free to enjoy, I suppose, but maybe print out a screenshot before you go.