Another change afoot at AOL today: Hipster.com, a hyperlocal photosharing app AOL acquired in March 2012, is shutting down as of February 16. Registered users are being sent emails (a copy, sent to us by a reader, is embedded below) telling them that they will need to save any postcards — Hipster’s term for posted images — by that date, or they will be deleted, along with all other user data. The site itself has yet to post any notifications, although its Twitter feed confirms the news, too.
Update: We now also have a confirmation from AOL that it is “sunsetting” Hipster but that some of the staff will remain to work on other projects at AOL. “While the Hipster application didn’t prove core to AOL’s strategic roadmap, we continue to work with key talent from Hipster in support of AOL’s other products,” a spokesperson said.
According to the email — which doesn’t mention AOL at all — the shutdown was due to a number of reasons — the state of the “photosharing landscape” (read: domination by sites like Instagram), financial considerations and the growth of the site were among those named in the letter from the three founders Doug Ludlow, Steffen Hoffman and Ethan Czahor. “The decision to shut down Hipster was not an easy one,” they note.
They note that the site had picked up some 500,000 users since launching in 2011. When AOL bought the site last year it was for a reported price in the lower seven figures.
Putting aside some of the bigger issues of competition from larger photosharing sites, there have also been changes at AOL.
First and foremost, the group that Hipster sat in at AOL, AOL Mobile, has effectively shut down, with several key people leaving the company, and others being redeployed to different, individual operations such as websites (like TechCrunch, which AOL owns).
“The culture that Sol, David, and the team have created over at the AOL Mobile Team in Palo Alto is pretty amazing – it’s a group of people we can’t wait to starting building cool stuff with,” former CEO Doug Ludlow said at the time of the acquisition in March 2012. “We’re also thrilled that Hipster is not only going to stay open as a product, but we’ll now be able to improve it / build even faster.” Clearly with AOL Mobile out of the picture that put Hipster into a more precarious position. (Ludlow is now “innovation partner” at AOL Ventures and has also started the Little Book Club for children’s books)
The other change is that this week AOL, in the lead-up to its quarterly earnings, is trimming down, sharpening things up, and possibly doubling down in other areas. Today also brought news that personal profile site About.me was spun out as a separate company after two years under AOL’s wing. Earlier in the day, AOL also rebranded Advertising.com as AOL Networks, and there are reports that it is in talks to buy Gdgt, a tech site co-founded by a co-founder and a former editor in chief of Engadget, owned by AOL.