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Milk Inc. to shut down Oink on March 31st (oink.com)
173 points by HectorRamos on Mar 14, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 136 comments

What the....

I'm super surprised by this, and Kevin Rose just lost a couple of points of respect in my book. Must be nice to have investors who will throw money at you, so that you can give a half-hearted effort at something (or maybe less than half) only to shut it down a few months later to "try something else".

It's like ADD at the business level.

Terrible decision. I don't even think anyone even tried to make this a success.

"People talk about pivoting all the time now, but if something isn’t working after four months, we’ll just shoot it in the head and start again" - Kevin Rose, last April http://techcrunch.com/2011/04/04/milk-kevin-roses-new-compan...

In fact, I think it shows a lot of discipline to stick to what they said they'd do.

In fact, I think it shows a lot of discipline to stick to what they said they'd do.

I think a very valid argument can be made that this is the problem with the Milk model. The fact that they're funded without a product mandate means that they have a nice safety net so instead of pivoting a product and trying to fix what they have, they "shoot it in the head" and move on. There's no incentive to try to make what they have work. This isn't discipline, discipline is about making the hard choices and its easy to put a product out to pasture, its in fact the opposite. There's no reason to be disciplined when you're just playing with other people's money.

This is pretty much the opposite of what YC does which is give a smart team just enough money to live and make them fend for themselves. You're a hell of a lot more disciplined when you're clawing and scrathcing just to be ramen profitable.

While I'm not disagreeing with this, I wonder if it will impact the users of Milk Inc tools' willingness to participate in future projects. For services which run off of user's submitting content (reviews in the case of Oink), I'd imagine users may become hesitant to contributefor fear of the project (and thus their work) getting shot in the head.

I'm not saying terminating a project that didn't meet expectations is wrong, I'm just curious about the lasting implications.

I was one of the (seemingly) few people using Oink in Orlando, FL, and I thought it was great. I'll certainly be more hesitant to create any more content for a Milk product because it kinda feels like I just fired off information in to a black hole.

I figured it would be killed after how little people in my area were using it and I knew what I was getting in to, but I think I'll still let other people be the test dummies next time.

Well at least he isn't embarrassed at failure like the Pinterest guy.

He was embarassed to shoot it sooner.

In the grand scheme of things none of this will really matter. Silicon Valley and tech in general is in the grips of ADD culture.

It's no longer about million dollar ideas, it's not really about execution of solutions either, it's about teams wandering around in search of something.

And maybe inevitably Kevin Rose will stumble upon the real purpose of Milk and spend time on it and make it a success. And the mistakes he made will just be papered over while what worked is left to be studied.

That's the real point anyway.

So silicon valley's real value is to coddle the needs of wishy-washy primadonnas as they attempt to find them self? When they succeed, we deify them and shower them with worshipful funding, when they fail its an exercise in letting what worked float to the top to build upon it for the next what-if?

I call bullshit.

Sorry, but the idea behind Oink simply wasn't very compelling.

I am actually turned off by the fact that Kevin managed to get investors in his own private sensory incubation tank which has no problem walking away from everything.

The mantra of fail often is being confused with continual failure.

Why hate on a guy who continually fails? That person is continually trying and learning.

That's exactly the consumer tech game.

Not everyone plays it but a lot do. It's the easiest point of entry for when you don't have the know how, lack experience, don't know enough people to do things such as launch rockets, design electric cars, optimize doctors, or achieve world peace.

And the mistakes he made will just be papered over while what worked is left to be studied.

Actually, what didn't work is very valuable. That's the whole point of things like customer development/lean startup. You learn why something didn't work so that you don't repeat your mistakes, and chart a course for something that you think will work the next time.

It should come as no surprise. Rose said they were going to do this all along. The vision for the company is to continually pump out apps until one sticks. If Oink didn't receive the traction they needed to keep going, why keep going?

I agree with you, but its ironic given the article from yesterday about Pinterest (who went at it for 2 years before finally gaining traction).

Really? 4 months to gain traction? I wonder how they come up with this number?

Not a surprise, but I for one am not signing up for another Milk app. Why take the time to use an app that will most likely be gone in a few months.

Oh God. Queue this as a forthcoming trend. Sucks because this trend is really going to have a negative affect on new startups acquiring early users. People are no longer going to invest themselves into a product if they think it's simply going to close up shop a few months later.

This implies that "people" think much about the business behind the products they use. I'm not convinced people put that much thought into whether or not to test something out.

Person 1: "have you seen this new app?"

Person 2: "Oh, cool. I'd try it out, but I read on [insert tech blog] that they're practicing lean startup methodology so I'll wait to install it until after their series-A"

Yes, I know that's a strawman argument, but I have a hard time seeing people really thinking like this at all.

I think it depends who you are targeting. Even though Oink was targeting regular consumers, it does no favours for the reputation of start-ups trying to target businesses. I'm trying to sell a B2B startup's product into my office: one of the questions I'm asked is "it's a startup, what do we do if they shut it down in a few months"? Continuity can be a very important factor for certain types of startups.

from a personal example: I was really invested in the pool party app from Slide. Create groups and share pictures with groups of people, I convinced my friends to switch over. After they shut down, yeah I got my pictures off the service, but I will never invest in a new service like this again. Theres probably a lot of stories like this, and hes absolutely right that it doesn't help anyone.

I think they do though, not like that but. They will just generalise to all new products coming from places other than big well know companies. It will be more like "I started using [photo sharing app x] but then they shut down and I had to move my photos, I'll just stick to Facebook."

I know that every Milk app going forward is going to have comments about "why should I invest time in this if they are just going to shut it down?"

I can completely understand the way you feel, used to feel the same way many moons ago.

What changed it for me was to look at it differently:

1. If all products that were ever built were 100% good and successful, we'd be living in a different world. But, we don't. Fact is that most of us make a few good products (if we are lucky) and a lot of bad ones. It is the natural way of things, you can't control it. What you can control is how we go about doing it and how much it costs.

2. Money is raised for a lot of reasons. Money is spent for a lot of reasons. Not all worthy causes/products get funded well, same is the case for the unworthy ones. A lot of money, be it that most of it is wasted, tills the ground better and raises the odds for something good to come out of the flood of bad ones. Would you rather have no good ones at all in trying to ensure ONLY good ideas get funded and sustained?

3. You can use the same $$$s in different ways: blow it all up in one go, make different (smaller) attempts at it with clearly defined parameters for failure and success. Those two parameters are very subjective. Especially as product people we tend to keep products alive for much longer than we deserve to keep them.

4. Most important perspective for me: if you think you can do it differently, stop talking about it and have a go at it. Attempting (and even failing) to do half of most of the people we love to criticize brings about a sea change in perspective. It is always different in the trenches.

the way he handled Pownce http://pownce.com/ made me lose all respect, the handling of Oink confirms this.

Were the investors throwing money at oink or at milk? If it is the latter this decision makes sense.

Using money to fund ideas that may or may not pan out is an interesting concept and kind of cool and if they decide to throw out ideas that don't work rather than stick to it that just defines what milk is.

Milk. The whole point of Milk is to pump out lots of ideas (and hope one sticks). It would be against their mission statement to keep Oinking.

So as a consumer, why would anyone ever even try Milk's products until they clearly become viable? You are being asked to give tons of your time and energy to build out their product (user generated content), recommend it to your friends, and do their word of mouth marketing, and in return the company has no loyalty to you unless its spectacularly successful.

And in contrast to the Milk model, you have sites like Delicious, Flickr, and even Digg itself which still operate even after the original founders have moved on.

What percentage of Oink users knew Milk's philosophy? What percentage of them cared?

More to the point, what percentage of potential users for their next app will know about Milk's philosophy (or care) when they see it in the App Store's "Featured" section?

It might make the news, and it's a good talking point, but I can't help feeling the naysayers are just stuck in an echo chamber on this.

Oink was free, so why not?

Opportunity cost of time.

Because our time is not?

So many armchair commentators… Nobody here has the data about Oink that Milk do. The data required to tell if this venture was something worth doubling-down on or moving on from.

Business is an art. And great artists know that moving forward often requires you to say "this didn't work, let's start again."

"If you want to live your life ... as an artist, you have to not look back too much. You have to be willing to take whatever you’ve done and whoever you were and throw them away." — Steve Jobs

You can also paint (no pun intended) metaphors about artists dedicating their whole lives to something, seeing through their vision to the point of insanity, dying broke and starving only to be appreciated for their genius later on.

"____ is an art" is often used as an excuse when ____ is being approached with a total lack of discipline...

But within that perserverence is the willingness to scap everything and restart again.

Some authors rewrite their books over and over again. I know in the crafting of a story that held firm to my vision, I had over 30 or 40 rough drafts that went into /dev/null. I will never know if any of those drafts were better than my final story, but my art is is in holding strong to my vision, and to be willing to discard, rewrite, ruthlessly edit, and endlessly revisit every single one of my assumptions about the plot, characters, mood, structure.

That is art, and no amount of armchair commentation will capture the beauty, frustration, and joy within this process.

Yes. It is possible for an artist to spend an entirety of his/her life reworking one single piece. and yes - it is true that within this work, he/she would have said no a million times to a million possible decisions, and restarted from scratch a million times.

I second that

Agreed. I'm really struggling to see how people here can be so negative. The whole idea of Milk was to try lots of things and see which stuck.

People are saying "you need to stick things out to build a business" -- but Milk is sticking to their original strategy, and is in the process of searching for a truly big business. People are calling Kevin Rose and his team a bunch of hipsters, but I'd rather that than the nerdy meta-hipsters who are everywhere online these days.

I really like the Milk model. It's another twist on the incubator/accelerator concept, alongside stuff like YC or the Samwers' Rocket Internet. A startup that looks like an investment firm -- instead of risking it all on one product, they're looking for a portfolio of products, to better increase the chances of finding that one breakout hit. And like VCs, they're not interested in small successes.

Sure, you can point out their model is unproven and might not work. But there's no need to hate them for trying something new.

he whole idea of Milk was to try lots of things and see which stuck.

Maybe it's because most HN'ers don't have that kind of luxury of scope with their own startup endeavors, which understandably causes a level of resentment?

Sure, as a founder you can pivot, but that's not the same as launching discrete apps/businesses, being able to test them out and then shut them down if they are not popular.

Most people only get one bite of the cherry.

I think we can. I had the idea recently of starting a small web/mobile consulting shop, and using that to build a stable income stream and also a strong team (technical, product, business guys). Once that's established, you slowly move towards trying novel ideas. It's a common model in the games industry.

Also if return on investment is Milk's primary goal then killing a product that's not working to push 100% of their resources to their next thing is the best thing they could do for investors.

If the signs are there (which they obviously are internally) then better kill it now and start on the next thing earlier than draw it out longer. I think people are getting Oink and Milk confused. Milk received the capital which makes killing Oink more of an internal decision.

I think it's a wise. Also it's a little interesting people are commenting about the effort behind the product. Sure the timeline is short, but I feel it's the effort that really makes Oink stand out and fall harder.

As a founder of a company in the same space (chee.rs) I was surprised to see them pivot from the idea so quickly.

Our internal analysis of share/engagement metrics was showing that our own users were way more engaged than Oink's. We were expecting that if they noticed us in the market they'd have been working on rev 2 of the product - gathering intel from products like ours and integrating it - rather than shutting it down.

Honestly I had no interest in anything associated with Kevin Rose thanks to Digg.

I know it shouldn't be a factor when it comes to judging his work, but there's something about his attitude that just rubs me the wrong way.

I definitely understand why the public isn't a big fan of his anymore, but I can't help remember back to The Screen Savers, and the early days of digg, when he was really someone I looked up to.

I haven't really been involved in social bookmarking very long, but isn't Digg what spawned the voting-system type site that we see in Reddit and HN? My understanding is that slashdot based on discussion instead of a straight-up voting mechanic.

The difference between Digg and Slashdot is that with Slashdot, all the stories were placed by editors. You might have been able to submit stories to the editors, but there was no upvoting and the front page was purely up to the editors. Of course, later Slashdot added Firehose, and then awhile after that I stopped reading Slashdot.

Slashdot had moderation for comments, but no similar mechanism for stories. Digg had the voting system for stories and for comments.

And even after all these years I still think that slashdots comment moderation system is the most effective one on the web today.

The "trending links" nature of Digg also resembled Delicious Popular, Rose has mentioned it as an inspiration.

Reddit and Digg spawned around the same time. I'm sure Digg had a little impact but I think they were being developed around the same time.

Digg launched like 6 months before Reddit did.

I don't know the Reddit history that well, but as I read recently in a PG essay, it was originally slated to be a food ordering application on your phone.

I do not know when they pivoted, or when their idea to pivot came, but I _suspect_ that their pivot was at least partly inspired by Digg's early release.

metafilter predates both Digg and reddit by 5 years, and was enjoyable for quite a while longer than either of them. I don't think it's fair to credit either of those sites with social bookmarking.

Since you guys are in the same space. What are you seeing that the rest of us are missing? Is there an actual business around the idea?

Oink was maybe useful when items were attached to locations. As soon as people started like Macbook Pros and other free standing stuff, it became completely pointless for me. (Too cluttered and not enough recommendation value.)

We're pretty confident there's a big business in our space. chee.rs is focused on the positive experiences in our users lives, rather than rating every little thing. Users post what they love (it's freeform: it can be music, restaurants or just general concepts), and other users pile on with positive reenforcement. What we're seeing is that users get hooked on having a space dedicated to things that people like and spend hours at a time (literally - like spending 3+ hours on some nights) in the app just going through what other people like, and posting their own content from time-to-time.

We've had a few businesses approach us cold after being cheered, asking if they could offer some sort of coupon, or other offer to users who cheer on their business. That's something we haven't really figured out how to run with and/or monetize yet.

I can't really explain what gets these users hooked, but you can see the sort of engagement we're seeing here: http://chee.rs/1433322

Just curious. Why are you ruining such a good domain by redirecting to www.chee.rs?

That bothers me too. One of the limitations of AppEngine, sadly:


We've been waiting for them to fix this for a while. I hope that it arrives around the same time as SSL support for custom domains.

If you can, use CloudFlare for SSL instead. $20/month and you get a ton of other features. You don't get last mile SSL support to GAE, but at least it stop script kiddies in coffeeshops.

That's not a bad idea- thanks for the suggestion. We can even use the SSL support for https://*.appspot.com to get SSL for the last mile.

If your users love you so much, have you considered selling them some premium version of your service? If you want to survive, you've got to sell something, whether it's equity, someone else's product/service or your own.

Explore the space between selling virtual sheep to OCD-inflicted grandmas and shoving the local butcher's billboard in your loving users' faces.

I love lamp.

I wouldn't call this a pivot. This is an abandonment.

Why would anyone bother committing to one of their products again if they just arbitrarily shut things down when they are working on the next big thing?!

Agreed. If I were a user, I'd feel pretty burned getting attached to an application then have the company "shut down" to work on something better.

Maybe oink just wasn't driving the engagement they wanted (or something).

yep never investing time into another Kevin Rose product. I loved pownce and i liked oink. Hes let me down too many times.

I was an Oink user and deleted it a few weeks ago from my phone. It seemed like an intriguing idea (to see recommendations of things rather than places), but ultimately there are only so many photographs of beers, burgers and coffees that one can stare at.

But I really do appreciate that they offer a way to download my data as I've done it and discovered a beer I'd forgotten about: http://www.meantimebrewing.com/our-beers/meantime-wheat

> ultimately there are only so many photographs of beers, burgers and coffees that one can stare at.

Instagram hopes to prove you wrong.

Wow...the vitriol to Kevin here is ridiculous (or telling - depending on your perspective). HN is supposed to be a place where people are encouraged to start things - with the acknowledgement that not everything will work out and we are the testing ground for many of those new ideas.

The price for being a cutting-edge digirati is that many of the services you use, will not survive. If you can't deal with that, wait until they go mainstream and have some viable way to stay alive. Don't complain about it.

Yes, Kevin has raised money on his name - but why all the hate? Let him do his thing and you do yours.

Try launching a product and building your own, rather than criticizing other efforts. Either way, bootstrapping, getting funding, pivoting, abandoning is not easy. Doing it with such public scrutiny is even harder.

Take a chill pill and take solace in the fact that you are in the digirati that can even see these things. Your mom likely doesn't even know what Oink is. If you would rather be like her, then stop hanging out here and complaining.

How come Oink didn't got any traction, even with all the publicity they did everywhere when it was launched? When oik hit the app store I thought "god, If only I have 1% of kevin rose visibility to use it". I guess this ain't enough.

I think people are getting tired of using apps to tag stuff, take pictures, "like" this and that, etc... It feels like we are working for a company and not having fun or create anything, and Oink! just gave me reason to think this way even more firmly. There's no market for this anymore, because we don't have that much time to spent in dozens of different communities, and so,the less populated die.

So please, if you want to build something, please work on something real and that actual solves something, not another Flickr meets Facebook/twitter app.

Yep, you're right. What was the purpose of Oink? There weren't a ton of reviews or opinions - not enough anyway for it to be vastly useful as a replacement to Yelp. And it wasn't no Angry Birds so why even use it in the first place?

And they got a bunch of publicity, but ask yourself this question: of all the apps you reach about in Techcrunch, Mashable, etc, what % do you actually use? Publicity doesn't always translate to lots of users. They probably got a ton of initial downloads from curious geeks, but that's about it. Their churn rate was probably ridiculously high.

Publicity is pretty good for 1 thing for sure: search engine rankings, and Oink wasn't a website.

I wasn't a fan of Oink from the beginning. On its first use I was able to like such arbitrary things like my own T-shirt, or a piece of gum on the floor. I knew right then this was going to get way too noisy and it did.

I do see where they're coming from though. The reputation system was supposed to balance this out. Kind of like social news websites where people submit tons of links. Somehow through upvoting things become relevant no longer noisy and I'm pretty sure that's what Oink was going for. It was all very well designed.

I think a lot of people who used it didn't treat it that way. They treated it as another review site, which it also was. But treating it that way makes it such a chore to "build" and so eventually we all lost the point of it all.

I would think that if successful the reputation system would have to be constantly fiddled with and change like that, "OMG I lost my reputation", would be a constant community management challenge.

IMHO it would have been better PR to "pivot" even if it is to an entirely different thing. It would sound more respectful to people that used the app, covered the app and those that cheered them on.

I'd really be interested in seeing what next they build.

No offense, but why are you interested in seeing what they build next? Seems to me they are nothing more than a small group of overfunded kids with computers.

Interested, not excited. I want to see the "better idea".

I am suspecting this episode will offend people who are working real hard on what they think is are more important ideas and are struggling to get finding, only for Kevin to throw away millions for fun.

Totally agree. This was a PR fail. Take note folks

This really speaks to how we should look at apps, specifically those based around social networks. Consider the analogy of an app vis à vis a roller disco. The roller disco was a fad, so why can't apps and their subsequent networks be "fads" too? Maybe that's the point: they're cool because they're relevant now. Maybe longevity isn't the goal. We should enjoy the ephemeral things (so later we can say "remember when...").

I think one of the biggest hurdles to ranking and rating systems is how the data comes in. Imagine a two-dimensional histogram where Y is the number of ratings and all of the items are arranged on the X axis.

What I saw with Oink was this X axis (the number of items to be rated) growing faster than the Y axis (the number of ratings): in effect, noise growing faster than signal.

They weren't aggressive enough in filtering out duplicate entries and/or working with businesses to upload their catalogs onto Oink so users didn't have to add (and re-add) them. Not saying it was an easy task, but essentially this is the main challenge to such a product.

First line sheds a bit of light on their philosophy: "We started Milk Inc. (the company behind Oink) to rapidly build and test out new ideas. Oink was our first test and, in preparing to move onto the next project..."

Sounds like they are trying for a shotgun approach (didn't the company behind Angry Birds do the same thing? I don't know the official business term for this methodology). Where they have an internal API/system to roll out an idea FAST, then see if it gains any traction within their internal goal (whatever short period of time they set for themselves), and if not, scrap it to move onto the next thing...?

I think that works great for little one-off games. But with websites where people are expecting it to be around for years? Will that burn users too often, too fast, and sully your reputation? I don't know. I'm curious.

(imo, I don't know if I'd have put those two sentences in the shut-down notice - sounds like they were just experimenting with the site to see if they could make a quick buck, weren't really serious about it unless the $ or pageviews started flowing, and the users were just the guinea pigs...but that's just me.)

Milk was founded/funded on cult of personality rather than quality of ideas.

I wish them success, but maybe they should spend more time thinking up a quality idea instead of sitting around on a bunch of couches drinking beer and tea appreciating the brilliance of their hipsterness through their macbooks.

Question: what is the font they used for the "OINK" logo? If anyone has an idea, I would love to know.

What the Font was unsuccessful in determining it.

Looks like Gotham Black to me.

I'm not sure if this was more of a "fail fast, move fast" effort or that they realized it was stupid to begin with.

Glad to hear that Kevin Rose is sticking to his guns. I wonder if the Milk team will tackle a harder problem next time around.

Edit: Kevin Rose said he would kill off any project that wasn't gaining traction and he did just that. This is what I was referring to.

I wonder if the Milk team will tackle actual problems the next time around?


I think the guns the parent poster is referring to was the widely publicised statement that they would "shoot in the head" their projects if they weren't working. So they are sticking to that particular gun, as it were

That is exactly what I was talking about.

you gotta look at the conversion rate as well. If only 500 ppl used Pinterest years back, but 200+ people continued using it daily after 1 month, that's shows the product has very good potential, even though the total # of users is weak. That means you just gotta figure out to get more traction.

If on the other hand, you find out only 1 person is still using it after a month, that means it's a product fit problem, and sticking to your guns is probably futile.

"Sticking to his guns" is not the first phrase that came to mind after reading that he'd canned Milk Inc's flagship product after only three months.

but that's not the point of Milk... Milk was founded on the idea of pumping out lots of small things and seeing if any of them stuck.

If they kept Oink alive until it took off (if ever) they wouldn't be able to build the next thing.

I applaud the Milk folks in their first effort, but I must say if you've used Oink you would realize that: 1. it's not sticky 2. it's value proposition is relatively low

When it launched I played around with it for a few weeks before eventually uninstalling. Reason being, when you can check-in to places via FourSquare, recommend food/items you like from restaurants via Yelp, why would you use a system like Oink (especially when it has a smaller social-footprint than the aforementioned services)?

Maybe this app was awesome for you Bay area folks, but in NYC I never found much when I used the “find nearby” feature. Their interface was also inundated with too many data points as well (see there item detail screen).

I think the next wave of apps, now that we're experiencing check-in fatigue, is "passive utility" apps (Highlight, Sonar, etc). Their value can be ascertained with little friction (literally all you have to do is walk by someone) and there's tremendous room expansion on its core concept (dating based on shared interests, linkedin introductions based on shared contacts, etc.).

It wasn't bad for us bay area folks, but it still lacked utility. I occasionally browsed the app because its feeds we're filled with big pictures of interesting local stuff (mostly food). I added a few dishes to my todo list, but I can't say I ever went out of my way to try any. I also never really trusted the content like I do with Yelp, I just liked the feeds.

I think it's funny how people consider Kevin Rose a seasoned entrepreneur... what a joke. Their process is throw it against the wall and see what sticks because they apparently have no idea what actually constitutes a good idea. These guys are clueless, straight up. What an embarrassment.

How many Apple products have failed? How many 37Signals products failed?

Glad they are moving on. IMHO never understood what problem OINK was solving or why so many people ran to support it simply because Kevin Rose was attached. I have the utmost respect for Kevin but oink was very "emperor's new clothes" for me. I wondered what everyone was looking at while I saw nothing but junk

What a coincidence! This just reminded me to migrate my SimpleGeo apps; they are also shutting down on March 31.

it seems like they intended to use oink for data gathering: from: http://thenextweb.com/apps/2012/03/14/kevin-roses-milk-shutt...

------------------------- This is an interesting case. It seems like the group designed, built and shipped a pretty slick ratings app all in a bid to gather data. Rather than mine existing databases or pay other companies to license their information, they were able to garner attention via the app launch and gather their own. --------------------

if this is indeed the case, they should have been upfront about it. This is like taking users for a ride. 'Now that we have enough data, we're going to shut this thing down'

I don't buy that. Where did nextweb come up with the idea that the app was just an information gathering device?

They "inferred" it from this quote: ------------ We are extremely grateful for all of your effort finding and rating the best things in the places around you. We’ve discovered thousands of awesome pizzas, pastas, coffees, teas… and roller coasters, zoo exhibits, paintings, sculptures, vistas… and sodas, salads, sliders, soups… and so much more. ----------

That's reading into it way too much.

Oink was a beautifully designed app. If they just wanted to gather info, I don't think they would have spent so much time making it look good.

I think it just didn't work out the way they wanted it to, they are learning from this experience and quickly discarding what doesn't work and moving on to the next thing.

Trying different business models is a great thing. Businesses become successful in different ways. When they announced Milk they said that this would be their business model and they have stuck with it. It is going to be interesting to see how this works out in the end.

Disregarding all the traditional startup acumen (lean, agile, blah blah blah), in an environment where businesses are expected to be tested and discarded within months how will our 'ecosystem' tackle the bigger more meaningful problems that have a deferred payout for seeing it through? It seems to me that real innovation comes a lot more from long hard teeth grinding slogs than it does from rapid iteration. It seems like the startup environment has lately transitioned to business methods that largely aim at finding the most efficient means to get the last of the low hanging fruits.

I can't help but wonder what the cost would have been to keep it running, unsupported even?

I knew Milk was going to do multiple apps - I didn't think they'd delete their old ones before they started on their new ones.

It now seems apparent they're looking for 'the one' that sticks and they're not interested in building a portfolio of products with a strong fan-base. I would have thought keeping their early-adopter user base happy would have been a really valuable asset.

I feel they'll get a less favourable uptake for their next app now, so if Oink didn't get the traction they were looking for they might struggle more next time.

Seeing news like this makes me less inclined to be an early adopter in Milk's next project. Going into business with the primary intent to start a lot of projects and fail until one succeeds seems like a recipe for failure. While it's always an inherent consideration in every startup, it should never be your core strategy. Unfortunately for Milk, it seems like that was exactly what they had in mind. Kevin has a personality that makes people WANT him to succeed, but every user has their limits on how much they will continue to forgive.

I think this is really tough on users. But it's also indicative of Rose's power and pull with a large user base. I think people will forgive him and sign up to his next new thing because he's a smart dude and has a great team.

For better or worse, this is kindof a blip on the cosmic radar, even in the tech world.

I dunno how I'd react if I was an investor - I guess you invest in a guy like that because you're long on him, and in that case, the failures don't matter as long as your equity carries over.

Obviously start-ups pivot all the time, but Oink entered a crowded space of ratings and reviews. While they got the 150,000 sign-ups it was mostly due to the fact that it was Kevin Rose. I think they realized it would be hard to be real profitable quickly and that people may not want to review items inside places. I think all you need is a review of the business.

Plus, its not like Rose cant just move on anyways. He's got plenty of $$ and connections to fund his next venture.

there are different philosophies on when to kill a project... and imho, this was way too quick. By way of personal example, it took us 2 years to build BizRate.com into something that could even get funded, another 5 years before it started making money as Shopzilla, and 9 years total before we had our "overnight success" -- Many points along the way we could easily have pulled the plug. Persistence / sticking to your vision is something that is sorely lacking these days. (Another more obvious example: How long did it take for Apple's design+hardware+software philosophy to strike a mainstream cord?)

Timing aside, this method of "putting a bullet in its head" (which is not even a good expression to use colloquially), was a terribly callous way to treat their current users too... Especially given the fact that for a few thousand dollars a month (max) they could have kept the system rolling in the cloud indefinitely, without investing any time in it. They then could have put out feelers to find it's users / content a new home... (For example, our new start-up chee.rs would gladly have welcomed oink users -- in fact we're working on a quick oink importer as I write this. :)

Or, even if they weren't interested in transitioning users to someone else, they could have kept things running at least until their next big idea came along to announce to their users: "Hey we've got this new great thing, come on over and now that we have it, we've decided to finally and reluctantly shutter Oink, because we hadn't seen it gain much traction. Sorry about letting you down... blah blah blah."

Much better for PR than "We put a bullet in your head and moved on... But, we hope you'll join us again for another round as soon as your headache subsides."

Here's an importer to turn your old oinks into @cheers! :) http://chee.rs/oinkimport

I'm not very surprised by this decision, I like Kevin Rose and his ideas, but in my opinion OINK was late to the game. In a time where you have so many app options to check-in or review things, this app becomes very unnecessary.

I guess this proves that even a great design and great execution are not enough, you also need a clever idea huh. What do you think?.

However you look at it, with the clout Rose has (over 1 mill twitter followers) whatever he does next will get a ton of press and interest,probably even more so given the quick shutdown of oink. So why not save some cash and go for something new, at least they've come out and said it rather than leaving it to slowly die and not commenting.

Fundamentally its a question of Novelty versus Utility. Is it just this months new, new thing, or is it something that fundamentally solves a problem, makes your live easier/better, or sates a desire. Most of the 1st wave of apps are (understandably) novelties...its the utility equation that will be the next wave

I agree. This looks like they were testing some hypotheses and they didn't prove to be true. Maybe the engagement metrics just weren't there.

This is a good example of how extremely hungry entrepreneurs often have the advantage. Established companies and serial entrepreneurs rarely stick with their ideas if there isn't immediate success. Yet most large successes take time to mature and build momentum. Really sad to see kevin and milk give up so fast.

This seems a bit... premature. Not that I've used it. But in all seriousness, if Twitter, Pinterest, or Facebook had shut down after the first few mediocre months... well, we'd probably all be better off. But you get the picture.

Was Kevin Rose involved in Pownce? That felt like another "meh" effort from the former Diggers.

When I read Milk Inc. the first, second and third thing that came to my mind is the Belgian vocal trance band: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milk_inc

Called this one a few months ago https://twitter.com/#!/zinssmeister/status/15514462538288332...

But actually I am still surprised how quick this got axed. As a user you gotta ask yourself these days if it's worth investing a lot of time and content into a new app. An App that might be shut down, just because the builders want to go try out a new idea. To give Kevin Rose some credit here, he always state up front that Milk was going to "try" different ideas and move on to another if one wasn't bringing the right amount of traction. Now I hoped that the transition over to a new idea wouldn't mean the instand death of the previous and that's probably the biggest surprise here.

if only you could make money from not investing in things

A penny saved...

People need to get over this. Milk originally said that they would try a series of experiments, that would be killed if the required traction wasn't there.

We will see what happens with their next effort.

Make the source code available; the app and website!

Or how about finding a new home for the product (eg. another startup, media co., anyone!).

While I understand there is a large amount of effort involved in transacting something like that, certainly there is a legitimate & appropriate organization out there who could foster and grow the community that is Oink.

This action would mildly address the concerns about continuity and trust in product longevity.

Now I'm kinda wondering why they didn't spin this out on it's own like a startup assembly line.

it seems like this move, an open database of photos, tags and content would somehow "save" Kevin's image, of course in the eyes of those who point him down.

Kind of a shame, I was looking forward to an Android version of Oink. Now it's too late. :(

Although they were taking quite a while to put it out.

being a serial entrepreneur is easy, making a huge success of every endeavor is hard. 9 out of 10 startups die, so even if you are Kevin Rose this means you will probably have more failures than successes. Kill it and move on. Just make sure you can say you gave it your utmost best.

First thought: what the heck is Oink?

Sad to see it go. Oink was really fun for the few days I was using it :)

we're helping @oinkapp users cheer up! Here's an importer to turn your old oinks into @cheers! :) http://chee.rs/oinkimport

perhaps kevin rose is joining the bandwagon of SoLoMo to compete with the likes of Highlight, http://LetsLunch.com, Glancee etc

What is it about Kevin Rose and commitment ?

Read that as oink.de legendary torrent site

"It's better to burn out, than fade away"

Lots of Kevin Rose hate in this thread for whatever reason. Reads a lot like Reddit...

What did Oink do?

A shame to see Oink getting shut down again.

Oink.me.uk/.cd getting shut down made me quit caring about commercial music. And seeing how Alan was declared non-guilty later made me really really angry (the most awesome music service was killed and there was no reason or legislation to it).


Joke is the music pirate club Oink was shutdown.

If they didn't really believe in this "innovative" idea of taking pictures of food and posting them on the internet, and didn't have the resources and conviction to see it through, then why will they be more successful next time?

I have a question..

How ethical is this to set something up to obviously collect 'free data'?

Mark my words: no tech startup founded by a hipster will ever succeed.

What a stupid statement. I'm nowhere close of being a hispter but this remark is so stupid and useless that I don't understand how you had the guts to press Enter

It's kind of amusing to see how "hipster" has become a catch-all insult, particularly in nerd communities. Are you youngish and slightly unusual in a way that I don't like? Hipster!

I don't like Kevin Rose, but c'mon, at least find some more creative insults.

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