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🧟‍♂️Why Startups DIE | Winter Came To "FormSpring" 🥶

Welcome to #Zombiestan, where startup/companies come to die! Don't wake the dead, let me dig instead.

There are thousands, if not millions, of reasons why a startup/company will go 6-ft under...sometimes on arrival, on the runway, or even at a state of launch. What I'd like to focus on in this blog-series are the organic reasons that leads a company to its resting place 🪦


Today's Zombie is...

Company Name:, formerly FormSpring

Date of Birth: 2009

Date of Death: 2013

Type of Site: Social Q&A Network

Venture Capital: $14M (USD)


What was FormSpring?

FormSpring was a social network whereby folks connect over Q&As. I remember using it occasionally during high school...the "Quora" vibe was alive and kickin' back then by leading social networks like Yahoo!Answers and Yahoo! Messenger Live chatrooms. Back in 2005, I was practically an addict of what Yahoo!Answers was offering. It was fascinating to ASK anything and somehow an answer comes along from someone across the globe. It was mind blowing 🤯!

Social networks, like Hi5, Myspace, Friendster, Tumblr and an underdog called "The Facebook", were grabbing attention during Formspring's launch '09. It was a social network guerrilla war between 2005-2010 period... interesting times to live in.

FormSpring, which clearly had direct competitors, had ONE unique feature that was enticing at that time: ANONYMITY. Basically the Snapchat of '09 👻

This opened a whole new world of honest questions and answers amongst its user roster. You can even pull in your friends into the mix into an infinite (and lucrative) loop of Q and A and still enjoy the power of being an ANON user.

The design of 🔂 is definitely a recipe of evergreen business...or so it seems.

What was their downfall?

  1. The anonymity feature itself was FormSpring's downfall. How cliché! Cyberbullying became a scary thing. Despite Formspring's effort to discourage online harrassement by scaling back the anonymity feature. This became a double-edged sword amongst its user pool. There was no more "uniqueness" to any other competing social network out there...then eventually the user growth just froze... to death. 🥶

  2. Tumblr was gaining prominence amongst the teen market. A fun way to repost blog posts and images. Aaand...there was an "Ask" feature baked in. 🤷🏻‍♀️

What can we learn from this Zombie?

Formspring reminds us that ANY feature can be cloned or dismantled by your competitor who is better equipped with adjacent "interesting" features. Relying on ONE key feature for long-term is suicidal...literally. Formspring relied too much on the ANONYMITY feature to stay afloat. Pivoting to something that will keep capturing and retaining their main target audience was crucial and time-bound. Unfortunately, they haven't tuned-in closely to their main user demographics. This Zombie was slow in their innovation cycle and fast in giving up.

Rest in peace, Formspring🪦


Successful people don’t fear failure but understand that it’s necessary to learn and grow from.” -Robert Kiyosaki


One Step Further? Armor thy mind with the power of knowledge 👇


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