We’ve all seen our fair share of technology that has gone the way of the dodo. Recall the CueCat. And yes, I still have my Sony MiniDisc player. But what about those Internet startups that were not long for this world, like Rdio, Amp’d Mobile, or eToys. I still long for the days of having Urban Fetch deliver me a pack of gum … in an hour … with a free cookie.
This article isn’t about them. It’s about those companies that are still hanging around, for some unknown reason, or making idiotic decisions with their services that are sure to put them on the death watch. For me there are a few big players, in particular, that really need to get back on the right track. They started out strong but have either languished on the vine or made some pretty dumb business decisions.
For me, this one tops them all. About a decade ago, when YouTube was just hitting its stride, other companies were either trying to be YouTube or trying to be "the YouTube of [FILL IN THE BLANK].” For Slideshare, they quickly captured the title of YouTube of Presentations. While the concept of sharing PowerPoint presentations with the world may seem painful, it was actually a great way of getting your company’s public content online. It also proved a great way of getting yourself into another Google search result slot with all of the presentations and PDFs you were uploading to Slideshare. They even had a few companies paying for the business-level service, which allowed them to upload private presentations with commenting disabled. That really answered a need for highly regulated companies like pharma and financial.
But then it all started to go downhill. They added video (why??). They kept changing how embedded private presentations can be displayed. Then they were acquired by LinkedIn, who made the brilliant money-making decision of … eliminating the paid service. What’s worst, perhaps, is what they didn’t do with the product. They failed to innovate or make any significant improvements over the years. The Slideshare of today is basically the Slideshare of nine years ago.
Believe it or not, this is still a thing. They have settled comfortably into a purely music and lifestyle niche, but I never hear any of my friends (including the neck-beardy SXSW crowd) mentioning it … at all. And it’s a shame, because it did have potential to become what Facebook became, but a bad interface and too much customization by users with no creative ability ultimately killed it as a social network.
Ah, Twitter. It’s just not what it used to be. In the early days, you could keep track of your closest Internet acquaintances, report on the mundane and momentous, and get breaking news before anyone else. Nowadays, it’s filled with bots and banality of the likes of Kanye West. Brad Colbow did a great comic on the sad regression of Twitter.
I asked some other friends on their list of companies that should have come and gone, too.
Christopher Penn, Vice President of Marketing Technology at SHIFT Communications says:
“The digital boneyard fills faster than ever. MySpace would be on my list of ‘well past its prime,’ but I’d also include Ello and Peach, which came and went. And Meerkat isn’t too far behind.”
Check out Chris’s latest book, Leading Innovation
John Havens, Founder of The H(app)athon Project says:
“In terms of services whose time has come and gone, Klout is a tool I'd like to see evolve. Initially used as a gauge for online influence, I found using the service to be quite depressing - I'd check it numerous times a day wondering how to increase my score. Some days, after I'd written an article for Mashable, for instance, my score would increase a lot and I'd feel important. Other days it would go down. While I think the notion of measuring influence in this way can be useful, for myself and I think many others, it deteriorates your feeling of worth and wellbeing. It also (for me) made my focus on sending messages more about volume versus context or quality. Sadly, I see this model continuing via services like Crystal that aggregates a person's online life (tweets, etc.) and through their algorithms matches people via a few popular personality profiles.”
Read John’s latest book, Heartificial Intelligence: Embracing Our Humanity to Maximize Machines
C.C. Chapman, Adjunct Professor of Marketing & Communications at Bentley University says:
“TrueTwit.com instantly comes to mind. I never understood why this service existed in the first place. Why would someone want to put a hurdle in the way of someone who has just opted in to see everything you say? It never made sense, and whenever I see someone still using it today I shake my head, laugh and unfollow them.”
You can find the many facets of C.C. on his website.
Matthew Snodgrass is EVP of Digital Marketing at NextWorks. He has two decades of digital marketing experience and offers counsel to numerous pharmaceutical companies.