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on Aug 11, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite

This thread is unseemly and against the spirit of this community. Nitpicking and fault-finding may feel great, in an addictive sort of way, but they are the antithesis of creation.

There is definitely schadenfreude happening here, but at the same time, it's fair to nitpick if you want to learn about what went wrong. The same discussion, in business school, is called a case study.

The best answer so far is at quora:


What is the negative main stream press saying about Color [0]? The post gives an impression that Color faced an AirBnB situation?

[0] I couldn't look up 'color problems' for obvious reasons.

In my view there are multiple things at play.

1. They raised exorbitant amount of money which set quite high expectations from them.

2. The app didn't take off as expected (at least the vocal early adopters hate it).

3. Peter Pham (the designer co-founder) and chief scientist, DJ Patil quit or got fired, which raised eyebrows.

From an NYT article:

Mr. Nguyen [CEO of Color] outlined an ambitious plan to compete with Apple, Google and Facebook by tying together group messaging, recommendations and local search, all while making money through advertising.

You would think that a startup with as much funding as Color would hire talent that would realize the ridiculousness of the statement above. I understand that as the CEO of a startup with $42 million he has to sound like he knows what he's doing, but surely anyone reading that statement would have serious reservations about either using the product or investing in the company.

Or perhaps he's an MBA-type who thinks that deep pockets have to mean competing in every single "hot" tech space, instead of excelling at one thing first. Even the giant companies he cites didn't stick their fingers in so many cookie jars: Apple had the iPod, Google had search, and Facebook had interactive college directory. That they are competing now is only possible because of their earlier mastery of a narrow area. And yet, perhaps because of their lofty ambitions, Color is a data mining company without data, and a photo-sharing company without anyone sharing photos on it.

Please don't ascribe this to any bubble. Sometimes, the best intentions of a group of talented charmers can fall by the wayside for a variety of reasons. Perhaps they got carried away by dreaming about what they would do with Facebook's data, or Google's algorithmic prowess, or Apple's UX process. Perhaps they just couldn't connect. Perhaps they got overruled by VCs. We might never know, and it's all part of the natural flow of smart, creative people meeting Wall Street-esque amounts of money.

They have ~$41 million and it's only been a few months since they launched. Resume this conversation when they make their next move.

Apparently spent on a seriously cool-looking office in Palo Alto across from the Creamery. I walked by the other day; they hadn't moved in yet but there was a "we're hiring" sign posted on the door.

They moved in months ago and have been working out of that office for a while. They actually have the three adjacent offices across the street from the Creamery. The one that's visible to the street is where they eat lunch and hold events. If you walk north along the block you can see two more doors with projectors displaying pictures that people have posted to Color.

If the only use case they can come up with is the occasional music festival...I'm pretty sure it wasn't worth the money, even if it becomes outrageously successful at festivals.

The market was too... saturated

and the app itself...underexposed

Relaunching before end of year, roughly a decade worth of runway, CEO is friends with Steve Jobs. Not going anywhere anytime soon.

You really think they have a decade worth of runway? $42 mil is a lot, but for a relatively extravagant startup, I could easily see $4/mil a year going to operational costs, high-profile new hires, marketing.

It's a bad sign when the five star reviews are sarcastic.

http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/color/id427763573?mt=8&ls... (bottom of page)

Why is everyone so worried?

Because if $42 million in credible VC's money consistently gets toileted on things like this, it bodes poorly for all of us who are looking for funding.

I humbly disagree. Investors will learn. At least some will. And more intelligently-spent money helps every one of us.

Surely that money wasn't forked over in one big slug.

I'm not worried, but I am very curious about how so much money and talent could produce so little.

Who is worried? Seems like a valid question.

Data Scientist In Residence = $42 million

Data scientists used to be PhD students, and those can be plucked from grad school for a summer here and there for a pittance.

To paraphrase one of the Great Ones, "They're Not Dead Yet!"

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