Formspring, The Pioneering ‘Ask Me Anything’ Anonymous Q&A Platform, Is Shutting Down

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Formspring, a startup that helped pioneer the “ask me anything” format of anonymous Q&A online, is shutting down. The San Francisco company announced the news in a blog post this afternoon.

The closure of the Q&A platform will occur March 31st, and users will be able to export their data until April 15th, Formspring’s founder and CEO Ade Olonoh wrote in the closure announcement.

Formspring may have been the first mover in its space when it launched back in 2009, but its brand was certainly hurt when parts of its service were replicated by larger existing players such as Tumblr. The company, which raised a total of $14 million in venture capital, worked to keep its independent edge: For instance, last year Formspring rebranded itself with the launch of an “interest-based social network” that downplayed the anonymous Q&A aspects which had been copied by others. But it seems that it just wasn’t quite enough to keep things growing as Formspring and its investors may have hoped.

Rumors had swirled in recent months that Formspring had made internal cuts of key staffers, and also saw the departure of its charismatic COO Ro Choy. Today’s news shows that it was unfortunately all leading to this closure, and not to an acqui-hire situation.

Here is the blog post announcing the shut down in full:

“Formspring launched in November 2009 as a unique way for people to have engaging conversations about anything. Eventually reaching over 30 million registered users and 4 billion posts, Formspring grew beyond my wildest dreams to become an important part of how people interact online.

I’m grateful to each of you that helped make the site better by asking questions and posting responses. None of this would have been possible without you. Through the community you created, we’ve met new people, strengthened relationships, opened our minds to different points of view, and made each other smile.

Unfortunately, and with great sadness, I must announce that Formspring is shutting down. While we’ve had great success in reaching a broad audience, it’s been challenging to sustain the resources needed to keep the lights on.

Sunday, March 31st will be the last day you’ll be able to ask questions or post content on Formspring. You’ll be able to export your responses from now through Monday, April 15th, after which the site and apps will go offline, and any content will be permanently deleted.

You can export the responses you’ve posted by following these steps:

Log into your account and visit http://www.formspring.me/account/export
Click the export button
When your export is ready you’ll receive an email
Visit http://www.formspring.me/account/export again to download a zip file with your data
Thanks again for all the smiles.

Sincerely,
Ade Olonoh, Founder and CEO.”