Video question-and-answer site VYou launched with a unique premise, allowing users to create video responses to questions posed to them by other community members. But now, about two-and-a-half years later, the company is sending an email to its community members informing them that its site will be shut down next week.
In a message being emailed to users, VYou says that it’s “no longer possible” to keep the consumer-facing side of the business running. And so, next Wednesday, April 3 the company will cut off the ability of community members to record new videos. On April 5, the site will be taken down entirely.
After April 5, users who wish to receive an archive of the videos that they’ve recorded over the last few years need just email email@example.com from the address that they created their account with, requesting a copy of their videos. The company says that it will send an zip file with all their content in MP4 format, with videos titled after the question that users were answering.
The shutdown is happening after the consumer-facing side of VYou failed to take off, and also as the team is pursuing opportunities with publishers and brands as a white-label platform. VYou launched in October 2010 to allow users to answer questions from their friends and other community members. But what made VYou different was that all of its responses were done by video, creating a whole new interaction model for community members.
Over the past few years, the company has tried a bunch of things to increase user engagement on the site, from allowing users to follow one another and to pose broad questions to the community, to enable users to take questions posed to them on Twitter and to answer them in video format. Even so, the company never really got the traction it was hoping for, particularly after raising $3 million in funding.
While VYou never got huge, it did have a loyal community of users who would post videos all the time. But like Daily Booth, Formspring, and other startups who had a small number of very active users, it was enough to keep things going over the long term. And that’s a bit disappointing to VYou founder Steve Spurgat, who thinks the VYou model might have just a little bit too ahead of its time to hit mainstream America.
“Video hasn’t been adopted the same way we thought it would be two years ago,” Spurgat told me by phone. And so, keeping up a consumer-facing site just didn’t seem worthwhile. But the company has built some cool technology and is working with partners to keep that alive through embeds on third-party sites and other integrations. The team of five will continue working on the technology for clients who wish to use it to engage with their fans. While Spurgat says that’s not as fun as the consumer site, it makes more sense now for the company to focus on an enterprise model.
Full text of the email to the VYou community is below:
Dearest VYou Community,
Video answers to life’s questions, spread all over the web. VYou was founded on that simple idea and generated millions of videos, from YouTubers falling off of chairs to Martin Luther King III sharing stories about his father.
Now, sadly, this email comes with unfortunate news. VYou is shutting down. Keeping the website running is no longer possible.
Next Wednesday, April 3rd, the website will no longer allow you to record videos. On Friday, the website will come down entirely. You will be able to receive all of your videos at that time (more info here).
Through all the peaks and even the outages, the tight knit VYou community has meant so much to us. The VYou team is still together and working on awesome stuff – this won’t be the last you hear from us.
We’ll still be around, always. Feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org