17 Startup Darlings That Dropped Off The Map This Year

Building a successful startup is hard. 

It’s why, on average, nine out of 10 seed-stage startups fail. 

Here are some of the previously hot startups that fell off the map this year.


Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia

Aereo was built on the simple idea of delivering broadcast TV through the internet. It sold little antennas that transmitted live TV to devices like a laptop or a smartphone.

And it grew like crazy. At the end of last year, Aereo had roughly 80,000 subscribers. It had raised almost $US100 million in funding. Everyone thought it would eventually blow up the TV industry.

But in June 2014, the Supreme Court ruled Aereo's service was illegal, essentially killing its business. In November, it filed for bankruptcy.


Hailo founders

Hailo, the UK taxi hailing app, shut down its operations in North America this year, largely due to increased competition from market leaders, Uber and Lyft.

It says it's shifting its focus to the Asian market, where it's seeing lots of growth in Japan specifically. Depending on how well it does there, Hailo could make a return to the US and Canada, it says.

There were also some managerial changes too this year, as co-founder and CEO Jay Bregman left the company.

Hailo's raised over $US77 million so far, and has operations in 20 cities in Europe and Asia.


TwitPic Founder Noah Everett

The photo-sharing site Twitpic closed in October, following a trademark dispute with Twitter. According to its founder Noah Everett, Twitter told Twitpic that it would shut down its API access unless it abandoned its trademark application for the name 'Twitpic.' Everett figured it would be impossible to fight Twitter, so he decided to shut down his company.

Twitter ended up acquiring Twitpic's domain and photo archive, saving all the photos and user data for the time being.

Twitpic, founded in 2008, was one of the first apps that allowed users to share photos on Twitter, including animated GIFs.


Fotopedia made photo-sharing easy.

Fotopedia, the travel-focused photo app provider, shut down its business in August, after failing to create a sustainable business model.

Its photo collaboration apps had pretty good traction, generating 200 million monthly page views from about 17 million users. It had 20 million downloads, and users came from over 200 countries. By late 2012, it says it had over 3 billion image views. It also raised more than $US12 million from top investors like Ron Conway, SoftTech, and Joi Ito.

But ultimately, it came down to making money, and Fotopedia just couldn't figure it out. As Fotopedia CEO Jean-Marie Hullot told Techcrunch, 'There was one missing piece: where does the money come from?'


Path is a social media for your inner circle.

Path created lots of buzz when it launched in 2010 for its 'intimate social network' concept. Its app allows users to share photos and updates with only a closed network of friends (up to 50 initially, but now you can have up to 500).

Path grew quickly and investors poured in $US77 million to date. Its CEO Dave Morin says it now has 4 million users a day.

But Path still isn't a mainstream product, and it seems to be struggling to establish a clear identity. This year the company launched Path Talk, a new app that lets you message your friends and local businesses. Morin told Buzzfeed that he expects to break into the mainstream US next year, but time is ticking.


Former LivingSocial CEO Tim O'Shaughnessy

There was a time when daily deal sites like LivingSocial were considered the next big thing. At one point, LivingSocial had more than 50 million users and was valued at $US3 billion.

That time seems to have passed, and the landscape seems worse than ever. Since 2012, LivingSocial has laid off more than 400 employees. Its CEO Tim O'Shaughnessy stepped down this year. It's bleeding hundreds of millions of dollars in losses.

Researchers and analysts predict LivingSocial will either be acquired by a third party company or file for bankruptcy soon.


Secret lets you talk about anything anonymously.

Secret, the gossip app that allows people to anonymously talk about anything they want, quickly became one of the hottest apps this year. It raised nearly $US35 million since its founding 2013, valuing the company at $US100 million.

Although it gained early traction by breaking some interesting news, like Nike shutting down its fitness tracker or Rap Genius raising money, Secret also drew lots of criticism for encouraging bullying and bad behaviour. In fact, the Brazilian government banned the app in August out of concerns of cyberbullying.

That might explain why Secret quickly lost so many users. According to GigaOm citing AppAnnie, Secret has dropped out of the top 1,500 iOS apps in the U.S.


Yo is a simple notification app.

The hottest app this summer was a simple notification app called Yo. For four days in June, it topped the App Store charts, and everybody wrote about it.

Just a few months later, Yo has completely fallen off the radar, dropping out of the top 1,000 apps overall. Most people think it's a joke and dismiss it as a novelty app.

But it's still in business -- it's relocated to San Francisco and has signed up some corporate accounts like General Electric and the NBA. But it's still years away from becoming a household name.


Rovio is best known for its Angry Birds game.

It was only two years ago when Rovio, the Finnish game company that created Angry Birds, said it wanted to be bigger than Disney.

Now those dreams seem a little far-fetched. With increased competition from companies like Supercell and King, Rovio's profits were cut in half in 2013. This year alone, it laid off 130 employees, or 16%,of its total workforce.

Its active user based has also dropped 63 million to about 200 million. Rovio's CEO Mikael Hed is expected to step down by the end of the year.


Outbox scanned and sent you a digitized copy of your mail.

Outbox was born out of a simple idea of digitizing your snail mail. Three times a week, Outbox would pick up your physical mail and scan it, then forward it to your email or iOS app. It may sound a little freaky, but the company drew lots of interest, ultimately landing $US5 million in funding last year.

But Outbox failed to get enough people to pay for its service, and in January it announced it would shut down. However, the company itself stayed intact and in June launched a new loan service called Able.


Biz Stone

Last year, Twitter cofounder Biz Stone launched a new product called Jelly, which was a mobile crowd-sourced Q&A app. It made some headlines because lots of famous people, including Jack Dorsey, Reid Hoffman, and even Al Gore, invested in it.

Although there was some hype early on, Jelly failed to gain any major traction and has fallen off the map now.

In fact, it seems like Stone is no longer really excited about Jelly, either. He's now more focused on a new app called Super, where you can share comments with colourful background images.

Flappy Bird

Flappy Bird was a one hit wonder.

Flappy Bird wasn't even a company, but the viral iPhone game was so successful earlier this year that it deserves mention.

The reason the game's developer decided to shut it down was because of its insane popularity. The pressure of building a popular app caught up to him and he just couldn't handle all the attention.

After a few months, the game's developer came back with a new game called Swing Copters, which was pretty similar to Flappy Bird. But for some reason, Swing Copters never really gained any kind of traction.


Clinkle finally launched this year.

A lot has happened with Clinkle, the mobile payment app that's raised over $US30 million over the past couple of years.

Nearly half of the founding team is no longer with the company. Barry McCarthy, the former Netflix CFO, left Clinkle less than six months into his job as COO. Chi-Chao Chang, a former Yahoo executive, who was supposed to be Clinkle's new VP of engineering, left his job in less than 24 hours.

Although it finally went live in September, Clinkle seems to have scaled its ambitions way back -- it launched as a prepaid debit card for students -- and it's unsure how it will survive competition from the likes of Venmo, Square, and Google Wallet.


TaskRabbit, the task-outsourcing site, was one of the fastest growing apps in 2013, adding more than 1 million users. But this year it abruptly got rid of its bidding system, and instead put in place a fixed hourly rates for tasks, some of its contractors got upset.

Its private bulletin board was filled with a bunch of complaints, and some users were reportedly banned from TaskRabbit's forums. Although the company says 'the vast majority' users are pleased with the change, there's no question it put a dent in its image.


Klout employees beneath a sign in their California headquarters.

Klout, the company that measures user influence across social media, was sold to Lithium Technologies for $US200 million in March.

It may sound crazy to call out a $US200 million company for falling off the map, but it's true: as noted by Slate, Klout Scores rarely show up in the press or in job applications. Google Trends show Klout has been in decline after reaching its peak at around May 2012.

Still, according to Recode, Klout had $US10 million in revenue last year, and its huge user data base is what made Lithium acquire the company.

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