twitterfeed

in startups

Requiem for Twitterfeed: why a startup competitor’s loss is a time for grief, and not celebration

We launched Twibble the 24th of April, 2014. As many of you know, Twibble was an accident, born from the crumbling ashes of our previous startup, Venturocket, for which we’d raised $700K. So we know a thing or two about failure. Like, for instance, that it hurts. Painfully. It’s a tear-wrenchingly, nose-bleedingly, agonizing experience that I’d wish on no one.

Not even a direct competitor.

And so it is with great and sincere sorrow that we learned Monday morning that Twitterfeed will be closing its doors on the 31st of October, and find ourselves genuinely wishing this were some sort of bad Halloween joke. Because, you see, it’s one thing to legitimately out-drive your nearest rival on a race track — for Schumacher to pull round Senna at the penultimate corner, say — but it’s another thing entirely to prevail just because your rival was forced to retire prematurely due to some technicality utterly unrelated to his driving.

The former is a valiant battle fought and won fairly; the latter is victory by default, and is a shallow, hollow win, by any measure.

So this isn’t some grand acceptance speech about Twibble’s triumphant victory over one of its competitors. Indeed, and with all the humility that I can muster, Twibble wasn’t by any stretch Twitterfeed’s arch rival anyway: we were younger; we were far smaller; and we were still struggling to get our footing. Perhaps little more than a mere echo on their radar then, a nuisance to be swatted away like a stubborn mosquito. To wit, their web page currently (admirably) suggests their users to “Please transition your account to another service before [October 31], we recommend Buffer orDlvr.it.”

The story with Twitterfeed has been rather more circuitous, however. Twitterfeed had already had its day of glory: as we eventually discovered, they had been acquired by Bitly back in 2011. So really this passing is less another instance of a struggling startup collapsing prematurely, and more a matter of the acquiring company choosing to shut it down intentionally.

For the original Twitterfeed founders, then, this may well be a fate more painful than having failed on their own accord: to be terminated by your parent company is only slightly more pleasant than a suicide pill, I’d imagine. On the other hand, maybe they welcomed it; obviously, I have no idea.

Interestingly, I haven’t been able to find much about the original Twitterfeed founder, Mario Menti, and would love to connect and learn more from him and the rest of his team. But the fact is, Twitterfeed is soon to be relegated to the annals of internet history simply because they were forced to quit, potentially against their will.

I can’t pretend to know what it’s like to be acquired — whether such acquisition is desired in the first place — let alone to be acquired and then shut down; but from our point of view, Twitterfeed was retired before we had a chance for a proper face-to-face duel.

The point is, when Twibble first went live on that fateful spring day in 2014, we had squarely in our sites two direct competitors: Twitterfeed and Dlvr.it. (And, indirectly, Buffer, notwithstanding their generous praise for us on their blog in September 2014.) Heck, we even used Twitterfeed as a measuring stick for our progress as we grew: by our metrics we were churning out more tweets per user than they were.

And now suddenly, just like that, they’ve announced to the world that they will be no more, in just two weeks, succeeded by only Buffer, Dlvr.it, and of course, though they may not even know it, us: Twibble. After all, as one of our customers wrote, they had “[found Twibble by Googling] something like ‘alternatives to Twitterfeed.”

While we may never know the full story behind Twitterfeed’s demise, in our mind one thing is certain: they went before their time, and we lost a worthy rival.

We wish the Twitterfeed team nothing but the best, and extend to them an open invitation: we’d love to make your acquaintance and hope you’ll reach out and say hello.

Twitterfeed is dead; long live Twitterfeed!