And once again, sitting in my office, Los Angeles, a place where you would expect there to be some serious use of Color, I'm presented with, again, the exact same screen I saw when I first started it up a few months ago.
That is to say-- nothing.
Everyone talks about how the Color _technology_ is so revolutionary, but I have yet to see the thing actually work. I've gone to big concerts and fired it up. I've been to Disneyland and fired it up (don't laugh, other social-place apps are _huge_ at Disneyland. Foursquare gets massive traffic from The Mouse). All of these places, you would think there would be _something_ on Color. Nothing. Just that silly black screen with the guy taking the picture of the other guy's crotch. (Cannot unsee that image from the startup, now, thanks)
It's like the guys at Color built the product on the assumption that hundreds of millions of people would use it on day one. I'm sure the app works great in the densest portions of the Bay Area on Friday night after a Foocamp, but it is just absolutely useless on any kind of day-to-day, social sort of usage.
Path isn't much better, but at the very least I can see that there were photos last shared 21 days ago from friends, so there's at least a _little_ temptation to, you know, _actually use the app_. For all the love about Color's technology, I don't believe that they have gotten anything right at all. It would be so, so easy to just dynamically expand the breadth of the "anonymous social network" created around your phone, but the FAQ page is like a winning card for Web 2.0 Social Media Bullshit Bingo.
Seriously, here's the tagline for Color:
"It also means that any photo taken within about 150ft. of other users of the Color app are automatically shared to their devices."
There you go. One Geospatial query, form upload, and fancy Objective-C frontend, and you have Color.
So they now know that _____ is not really popular, and although they raised a tonne of money to do it, closing its doors quickly and moving on to other things is not a disaster.
Pivoting would be neat, but maybe they ought to just give the remaining money back to their investors and move along to the next idea.
Even if investing was a lottery, it past failures don't indicate future success.
I'd guess that it might have something to do with the lack of product...
Had they been in stealth mode and didn't feel compelled to release as half-baked product too early, maybe it may have turned out differently.
"Robert(Scoble) is right, everyone's right, we should have done it, we could have done it, we didn't because I don't like conferences. Again, my bad, it's my responsiblity, I just didn't want to do it."
Honestly, it seems to me that he was either too hubristical or naïve.
I only wish I could "short" these types of stupid startup investments.
Longbets.org would let you make an idealistic point. (They don't let you keep your winnings; they have to go to a charity.)
Smarkets.com plays with real money, but seems targeted towards sports and current events.
The reason for this is liquidity. You've got to have enough people interested in an event to get effective price discovery, and if you're making money on the commission then it's entirely about maximising traded contract volume.
See also: cuil.com
However, the rock-star team is only valuable if it can stay together. Gathering up a bunch of rock-star soloists is much cheaper...
This could be a good thing, the three headed startup hydra could have been a bad thing - too many chiefs not enough indians and likely a lot of different product directions. This is a chance to hunker down figure out what people want and the right way to deliver it. They've got enough cash to keep user groups in testing for years. This can be fixed. Lean is good. Lean with 3-5 years of runway is even better.
Lean Startup philosophy says the last thing you want to do is raise a whole lot of money, build a product in secret, then spring it on a world that may not want what you've built at all.
I've lived through the too-much money route. I'm living the scrape-by route. There is no doubt which one is more focused!
While I appreciate the mentality behind a lean startup, I can also understand the benefits of a "fat startup."
Color was entering a crowded space-- there were a ton of photo sharing apps, but nothing close to a clear winner. In theory, putting $41 million into one "killer" photo sharing app makes a lot more sense than putting $3 million into a dozen average photo sharing apps. Unfortunately, things didn't work out for Color.
A large number of start ups fail, merely because they don't have enough engineers. Companies like Google (Google+, Google Docs, etc) or even network TV (Hulu) have been able to buy their way into markets, merely because they can turn out a full featured product relatively quickly, and back it with proper bizdev and marketing.
"Eric Ries, the Lean Startup philosophy says the last thing you want to do is raise a whole lot of money, build a product in secret, then spring it on a world that may not want what you've built at all"
They should not have built this product in stealth mode then release it at the wrong time(missing SWSX). Investors should be worried, what they thought is a great team is no longer there. One was fired, the other resigned now there is only Bill Nguyen. I think it will be hard to attract talented leaders after seeing cofounders leaving and being fired. Forget pivoting, Bill can't even keep his star team together.
As a weak social creature myself, i find the Color app idea very interesting. I eager to find someone take photo in the place i am in. I constantly open and refresh if someone took but none i find. Why nobody is using it? I remember once showing the app and its idea behind to my friend and he also find it very curios and love it. But where are the users?
Press takes what it wants, don't rely on them. They may interest in your investment or office furniture or whatever they want. Press might dumb your app almost instantly, but you have to respond to criticism very early. However, i see no app updated since months i guess.
Here is the road map for a loving user: bucket all criticisms that made to Color. prioritize according to who made them, their power in press/social media. change UI, revamp and go to real events. go to all Geek conferences after parties, music festivals and shout your app. This app needs on the ground fight not online tech bloggers.
Why is he called a co-founder? He doesn't even say so on his LinkedIn profile (a lot of people claim to be a Color co-founder, though).
As a person in the firing line, it feels pretty crazy to have the same site praise you as "the next twitter" one day and shoot you down with all they've got three months later.