Everest, a Peter Thiel-backed mobile startup that launched an app last year to help you “achieve your dreams,” is shutting down. The company had raised $2.2 million over three rounds, according to data from CrunchBase, but failed to attract enough users in order to justify the expense of running the service and keeping the team employed, admits an email sent out to Everest users this week.
The email warned that anyone wishing to back up their content from the service needed to visit the website promptly, as the servers were soon going offline.
Today, the Everest website only hosts a page where users can login and download their content.
The company competed with other goal-tracking apps, including Lift, the app incubated by Twitter co-founders’ Obvious Corp, which, incidentally, debuted its business model this week, where it has expanded into personal coaching. Lift reports that it has grown to the “single digit millions” in terms of its user base.
Lift, however, was different from Everest, as it falls into more of the task-management space – Lift’s users receive community or personal support as they try to lose weight, exercise, maintain diets, learn productivity tips, and more.
Everest, on the other hand, was more about users breaking down their own goals into smaller steps, sharing photos related to that, and connecting with others on its network. Last year, its then 23-year old founder Francis Pedraza described the app as helping people figure out their life goals and how to accomplish them. People, he said, were spending “more time focused on self-actualization, and Everest will be the platform.”
Or not, as it turned out.
The app may have suffered from usability issues at launch. Though well-designed in appearance, it initially was plagued by bugs and crashes, and some of its key features, like viewing goals or setting up recurring tasks and alerts, were confusing and difficult to use, TechCrunch previously noted. In addition, simply cataloging the steps involved in any goal could be tedious.
Pedraza in 2012 had scored a meeting with Peter Thiel, who seeded the startup with a portion of its $300,000 initial funding based on Everest’s early designs and its concept of building a social network defined not by who you know, like Facebook, but what you want to do. Since then, the company brought in an additional $1.7 million in angel funding in 2013, and was proceeding to raise more later that year. An SEC filing shows that the startup had raised $200,000 of $5 million fundraise which included the $2 million in convertible notes Everest had previously brought in, the founder told VentureBeat at the time.
Requests for comment from Everest have so far gone unanswered, but we’ll update if we hear back.
Pedraza agrees that Everest did suffer from usability issues at first, but most were addressed by the spring. The app, he thinks, failed because of other reasons.
“One mistake we made was not making the user pay, either through an up-front purchase, subscription, premium features or some alternative, but clear and direct, business model. We pursued brand sponsorships instead, and although that generated interest, sales cycles were long and we were bound to ultimately be measured against active users,” he says.
In addition, user retention was difficult and a more direct business model would have given Everest more time to improve the product while succeeding with a smaller user base. The app had over 300,000 downloads at the time of closure.
Version 2 failed for slightly different reasons, Pedraza adds. “It was a more well-made product than Version 1, and retention was nearly 60% Day 1-30 (after steep day 0 drop-off). So I think it had more to do lack of differentiation – it was ultimately too similar to Instagram,” he tells us.
The company didn’t return much capital (actually ~$2.6m) to investors.
The full email sent to users is below:
It’s with a sad heart that we must inform you all that Everest will be shutting down soon. In the end, we were unable to get enough people using Everest to justify the significant costs of running the service and keeping a team employed.
***Please visit Everest.com as soon as possible if you’d like to save your moments to your computer; the servers will be taken offline soon.***
If you need to reset your password to save your Everest moments, you can do so from within the iOS app.
The Everest Team
“Please watch out for one another, and love and forgive everybody. It’s a good life, enjoy it.” — Jim Henson
Updated with company comments, 12/18/14, 5:30 pm ET