Blogfriends shuts down

By March 31, 2008Blogging

Social feedreader and Facebook application Blogfriends has closed down. You can read their announcement here.

This is a great shame. I have been a big fan of the service since it launched, it has brought efficiency, variety and serendipity to my feedreading to the extent that I have pretty much stopped using any other reader.

Now I guess I will have to find a new one.

  • Thanks for all your support over the last 6 months, Nic. You were definitely one of our star users. The most disappointing thing of all is that you’ll probably be going back to Netvibes now. Lol 😉

  • Thanks for all your support over the last 6 months, Nic. You were definitely one of our star users. The most disappointing thing of all is that you’ll probably be going back to Netvibes now. Lol 😉

  • Yes, it’s a shame to see a good app like that close down.

    NB They’re based here in London. Don’t you think that if they’d been in the States, someone would have come up with the cash to keep them going, rather than “we have recently had to refocus on our contracting work”?

  • Yes, it’s a shame to see a good app like that close down.

    NB They’re based here in London. Don’t you think that if they’d been in the States, someone would have come up with the cash to keep them going, rather than “we have recently had to refocus on our contracting work”?

  • nic

    Colin – I think the bottom line is that the user growth didn’t come through quickly enough. Unfortunately 20,000 users is only a small number for a Facebook app. I would imagine that is the same in the US.

  • nic

    Colin – I think the bottom line is that the user growth didn’t come through quickly enough. Unfortunately 20,000 users is only a small number for a Facebook app. I would imagine that is the same in the US.

  • @nic – I think it was more of a chicken-and-egg situation. As you know, we were still supporting ourselves via consultancy work; BlogFriends needed significant re-coding – and ideally a move outside of facebook – for it to fulfill its potential. Unfortunately that next step needed funding and without it we could only ever reach a theoretical maximum userbase of about 25,000… which is exactly what happened of course.
    Realistically, though, we’re fairly new to the scene (I’ve only been in the industry fulltime since june last year, plus don’t even live in London!) so we started without a strong enough network to expose us to right sort of angels. That was a big part of the thought in releasing Buzzspotr, and we’d hoped that creating such a service would help us locate the right sort of investors. This was a pretty effective approach, but ultimately cash is our master and we had to obey once it had ran out.

  • @nic – I think it was more of a chicken-and-egg situation. As you know, we were still supporting ourselves via consultancy work; BlogFriends needed significant re-coding – and ideally a move outside of facebook – for it to fulfill its potential. Unfortunately that next step needed funding and without it we could only ever reach a theoretical maximum userbase of about 25,000… which is exactly what happened of course.
    Realistically, though, we’re fairly new to the scene (I’ve only been in the industry fulltime since june last year, plus don’t even live in London!) so we started without a strong enough network to expose us to right sort of angels. That was a big part of the thought in releasing Buzzspotr, and we’d hoped that creating such a service would help us locate the right sort of investors. This was a pretty effective approach, but ultimately cash is our master and we had to obey once it had ran out.

  • Daniel

    This is a classic example of an inability for UK angels to take a risk on a great idea. the key difference between the US and the UK is the angel market, not the VCs. If people like the team, they should get funding to cover their costs and work on executing their idea, work on user acquisition, etc, iterate, iterate, and iterate till they get it right.

    Personally, I think you guys did a grand job with your limited resources.27,000 users won’t make you the next VC dream, but it is an achievement. Who knows what you could have achieved with the right support, and the ability to build the product you really wanted. There is no way this would go to ground in Palo Alto. Foucsing on consultancy andtrying todo are startup will lead to a sub optimal outcome,and that makes me sad for the UK entrepreneur community.

    Nic,why don’t you angel fund them?

  • Daniel

    This is a classic example of an inability for UK angels to take a risk on a great idea. the key difference between the US and the UK is the angel market, not the VCs. If people like the team, they should get funding to cover their costs and work on executing their idea, work on user acquisition, etc, iterate, iterate, and iterate till they get it right.

    Personally, I think you guys did a grand job with your limited resources.27,000 users won’t make you the next VC dream, but it is an achievement. Who knows what you could have achieved with the right support, and the ability to build the product you really wanted. There is no way this would go to ground in Palo Alto. Foucsing on consultancy andtrying todo are startup will lead to a sub optimal outcome,and that makes me sad for the UK entrepreneur community.

    Nic,why don’t you angel fund them?

  • Daniel

    Case in point –

    http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=146774

    http://blog.harjtaggar.com/?p=41

    audio interview:
    rtsp://rmv8.bbc.net.uk/radio4/live/today5_20080328.ra?start=00:07:39.0&end=00:10:39.0&BBC-UID=b4d73c94521ab6daf980b0939050aef6cba12739904031d4b40fe8b1acaa657f&SSO2-UID=

    These guys would have probably have been unable to progress in London, but got ycombinator funding and sold for US$5 million last week.

    Not a vc scale outcome, but something that couldn’t have been done as well in the UK.

  • Daniel

    Case in point –

    http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=146774

    http://blog.harjtaggar.com/?p=41

    audio interview:
    rtsp://rmv8.bbc.net.uk/radio4/live/today5_20080328.ra?start=00:07:39.0&end=00:10:39.0&BBC-UID=b4d73c94521ab6daf980b0939050aef6cba12739904031d4b40fe8b1acaa657f&SSO2-UID=

    These guys would have probably have been unable to progress in London, but got ycombinator funding and sold for US$5 million last week.

    Not a vc scale outcome, but something that couldn’t have been done as well in the UK.

  • @Daniel – I feel a bit awkward discussing this on a VC’s blog, especially one who’s been so supportive as Nic… but I’ll respond anyway 😉

    On the one hand, you’re right in that the userbase shouldn’t have been an issue; MyBlogLog had about 50k users when it was sold to Yahoo for $10m and their data isn’t a patch on ours in terms of quality. Furthermore, our service solved real problems in the market (both in a B2C and B2B sense). However, it’s worth recognising that they sold because a) they had a vast amount of user cookies b) it was at a time when yahoo would have paid anything to get what was effectively a very comprehensive survey of the blogosphere. I.e. they were lucky – something that Rafer’s happy to admit.

    On the other hand, the reality was that we didn’t communicate our business plan well enough and fast enough to the right people. Now, you might argue that UK angels don’t take enough risks (versus seemingly funding pretty much anything in the US) but I don’t think that’s entirely fair. I know it’s not fair, because if we started the same thing again today we’d do many few things differently – especially when it comes to fundraising.

    Ultimately, as I’ve not yet successfully raised a major round, I’m not yet in a position to make a serious comment on the UK angel “scene”. Nonetheless, what I *do* know is that raising money is sufficiently hard here that, should you not succeed, it’s probably because your business isn’t ready yet. In a way, I’m happy that European investors aren’t chucking their money at every NewsFriendFeedTweeter.com that comes along. The only down-side I see is that there aren’t enough failed post-angel/Series A companies around to fill the ecosystem with battle-hardened entrepreneurs; it’s a bit all-or-nothing.

  • @Daniel – I feel a bit awkward discussing this on a VC’s blog, especially one who’s been so supportive as Nic… but I’ll respond anyway 😉

    On the one hand, you’re right in that the userbase shouldn’t have been an issue; MyBlogLog had about 50k users when it was sold to Yahoo for $10m and their data isn’t a patch on ours in terms of quality. Furthermore, our service solved real problems in the market (both in a B2C and B2B sense). However, it’s worth recognising that they sold because a) they had a vast amount of user cookies b) it was at a time when yahoo would have paid anything to get what was effectively a very comprehensive survey of the blogosphere. I.e. they were lucky – something that Rafer’s happy to admit.

    On the other hand, the reality was that we didn’t communicate our business plan well enough and fast enough to the right people. Now, you might argue that UK angels don’t take enough risks (versus seemingly funding pretty much anything in the US) but I don’t think that’s entirely fair. I know it’s not fair, because if we started the same thing again today we’d do many few things differently – especially when it comes to fundraising.

    Ultimately, as I’ve not yet successfully raised a major round, I’m not yet in a position to make a serious comment on the UK angel “scene”. Nonetheless, what I *do* know is that raising money is sufficiently hard here that, should you not succeed, it’s probably because your business isn’t ready yet. In a way, I’m happy that European investors aren’t chucking their money at every NewsFriendFeedTweeter.com that comes along. The only down-side I see is that there aren’t enough failed post-angel/Series A companies around to fill the ecosystem with battle-hardened entrepreneurs; it’s a bit all-or-nothing.

  • Nic and Daniel—thanks for your kind words. What Jof says pretty much sums up my perspective also. That said, if an investor *had* of thrown a chunk of money at us, I have every confidence we would have re-architected Blog Friends outside Facebook and scaleably and gone from strength to strength.

  • Nic and Daniel—thanks for your kind words. What Jof says pretty much sums up my perspective also. That said, if an investor *had* of thrown a chunk of money at us, I have every confidence we would have re-architected Blog Friends outside Facebook and scaleably and gone from strength to strength.

  • Guess it’ll be interesting to see how the investor community reponds, and whether it’s sufficiently joined-up for potential angels/other backers to pick up on this (assuming there is some interest). I feel a cause celebre coming on. Facebook group, anybody?: “Bring back Blogfriends (and show us the money)!”

  • Guess it’ll be interesting to see how the investor community reponds, and whether it’s sufficiently joined-up for potential angels/other backers to pick up on this (assuming there is some interest). I feel a cause celebre coming on. Facebook group, anybody?: “Bring back Blogfriends (and show us the money)!”

  • Daniel

    Hey guys, thanks for weighing in.

    I wasn’t pinning all of the blame on the angel market. I just think think it is a shame to have to learn the lessons this way, rather than hanving help in preventing it occurring in the first place. A great angel network would probably swoop in and help the solid team and idea that you guys have. That is less likely to happen in London. Full time startups are hard. Part time startups simply don’t work.

    This is why ideas die this side of the pond. Only the minted can afford to play the game.

  • Daniel

    Hey guys, thanks for weighing in.

    I wasn’t pinning all of the blame on the angel market. I just think think it is a shame to have to learn the lessons this way, rather than hanving help in preventing it occurring in the first place. A great angel network would probably swoop in and help the solid team and idea that you guys have. That is less likely to happen in London. Full time startups are hard. Part time startups simply don’t work.

    This is why ideas die this side of the pond. Only the minted can afford to play the game.

  • Hehe – I feel like we’re accosting Nic’s blog here as a temporary Blog Friends forum!

    Thanks Chris, Daniel! Blog Friends definitely has some very supportive followers despite the service issues we had towards the end – we’re very grateful to those people. Whether or not funding is forthcoming out of this, I’m definitely up for any inventive plans that could get us back on track (as much as Luke, Benjie and I love webdev/consultancy, it’s very time-consuming!)

  • Hehe – I feel like we’re accosting Nic’s blog here as a temporary Blog Friends forum!

    Thanks Chris, Daniel! Blog Friends definitely has some very supportive followers despite the service issues we had towards the end – we’re very grateful to those people. Whether or not funding is forthcoming out of this, I’m definitely up for any inventive plans that could get us back on track (as much as Luke, Benjie and I love webdev/consultancy, it’s very time-consuming!)