A couple of years back I wrote What is an incredible journey? clarifying what qualifies for inclusion on this site. The short version was, and is:
- One company buying another and closing its services down. This is a purchase of the second company’s staff, rather than their product. An acquihire.
[This post is a copy of a post on Our Incredible Journey.]
But this still leaves plenty of wriggle room, which the closure of Vine highlights. If one company buys a service and closes it after a few years (four in this case) is that still an Incredible Journey? I’d say it depends.
In Vine’s case I’d say probably not. Some businesses fail despite their best efforts. Those aren’t Incredible Journeys; businesses fail every day. If a company (Twitter) buys another (Vine) and tries to make a success of it but gives up after a few years, that seems like a good try to me.
On the other hand, if Twitter had bought Vine and given up on it after six months that would seem more like a standard acquihire-and-shut-the-service, an Incredible Journey. And more so if Vine might otherwise have had a promising future independently, or under a different purchaser.
There’s obviously still a grey area here. What about if Twitter gave up after one year? Two? I don’t know. But four years seems like a good shot.
Having said that, there are occasions when a service is bought, and then stays alive for years, that qualify better for “Incredible Journey”.
For example, Dopplr (featured here) was bought by Nokia in 2009 and only closed in 2013. Another four year span. So why does this count? In this case, Nokia didn’t make any effort to develop Dopplr, or show any interest in it. The site only stayed alive as long as it did, with no new development, due to the skills and efforts of its founders. (Disclosure: They’re friends of mine and they’re lovely.)
So if Twitter had bought Vine and done nothing with it, finally closing it four years later, that sounds more like an Incredible Journey. Buying it, trying to make a go of it, and finally admitting defeat after four years maybe isn’t.
But, Incredible Journeys aside, we now have to see how Twitter deal with that vast archive of creativity over the coming years. Saying “nothing is happening to the apps, website or your Vines today” is one thing. Being responsible for what they’ve bought and encouraged, and keeping this stuff alive for the future, is another matter.