Shoot a 10-second video with your phone. Share with friends.
Sounds familiar enough, but the app that arguably pioneered the way for Vine, Instagram video and Snapchat is no more.
Culver City’s Supernova, which began and is still referred to by many as Viddy, announced last week that it will shut down its social video app Dec. 15 and encouraged users to export their videos from its site before the deadline.
The social tech star, once valued at $370 million but later edged out by bigger competitors, is closing the final chapter in its slow – yet predictable – demise.
“Some ventures ultimately succeed and some do not,” former Chief Executive Brett O’Brien said in an email. “That is the nature of our industry.”
Viddy, co-founded by O’Brien, Chris Ovitz and J.J. Aguhob, launched in 2011 as an easy-to-use video-sharing app that streamlined the process of uploading clips to social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter.
After a year of normal growth, the app unexpectedly skyrocketed in popularity. By May 2012, it had 27 million users, including pop singer Justin Bieber. More than 5 million users were logging in every day.
Those metrics gave Viddy, then headquartered in Venice, the leverage to raise a $30 million Series B round just months after raising $6 million in Series A funding. The newest round gave the startup a staggering valuation of more than a third of a billion dollars. Investors included NEA, Goldman Sachs, Khosla Ventures and Battery Ventures.
Viddy was primed to be the next big exit in social media to follow Facebook’s $1 billion acquisition of Instagram.
But a deal never happened. Facebook recalibrated its algorithms to combat video spam on its newsfeed, and Viddy’s videos were expelled with the rest. Twitter found its own bite-size content by purchasing Vine. Picture-posting Instagram evolved to include videos.
Viddy was largely left behind. Its app usage plummeted. O’Brien was booted from his chief executive post and replaced by Aguhob. Ovitz, who headed business development, left soon after. During the reshuffle, which took place early last year, Viddy laid off one-third of its 30-person staff.
The startup also returned investments, leaving it with a reported $11 million.
It rebranded as Supernova last November to start fresh, launching two apps – Epic and Clique – to complement the original. Epic turned Viddy videos into slow-motion clips, and Clique offered a private chat messenger to share photos. Those apps, too, will be shelved next month.
Fullscreen acquired Supernova for $20 million in January, but wasn’t interested in the Viddy app, according to a person familiar with the situation. Instead, the multichannel network wanted the company’s team.
A few months after it was acquired, Supernova moved from Venice to Fullscreen’s Culver City headquarters and the team began working on other video products. The Viddy app stayed on the back burner until eventually it wasn’t worth the resources to keep it going.
The team formerly known as Viddy will now focus on developing different experiences for Fullscreen’s content creators, such as new video-editing and -streaming platforms as well as social media tools.
“We set our sights on something even more bold and ambitious: to redefine entertainment for today’s youth,” the company said on its blog.
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