Yesterday I saw that one of my favorite companies, Forkly is up for sale. I’ve interviewed the founders Martin May and Brady Becker two times. The first time as founders of Brightkite and later at Forkly. Great guys and good at what they do. I knew that were looking for an additional round of funding earlier this year and it looks like they were unable to secure it.
So what happened? They have roughly 300k members – not sure how many were active and no one will ever really tell you that number. People who use it, love it. This is Martin and Brady’s second business and that’s usually an indicator of success. The app is easy to use and Foodies are an excellent niche market . . .
Therein lies the problem. Niches are niches. They’re as big as they are and in order to grow, you have to find a way to extend beyond the niche. Thus killing the early followers: the niche. I don’t believe that Martin and Brady were willing to do that as a couple other notable companies were.
Foursquare had a loyal following of people that enjoyed “the game”. Checking in, earning points and getting funny badges was enough for those early members. And then Foursquare (Dennis Crowley) needed to respond to the pressure to monetize and tweaked the business model. Once Naveen Selvadurai was gone – most likely not interested in abandoning the niche – 4sq shifted focus to be more social location search + Yelp. Much less nichey.
Instagram is a different matter but the initial amateur photographers (rhymes with “fiche”) left the second it got too popular due to Facebook’s acquisition. That’s why you now see shots of people’s abs and little girls wearing too much makeup, instead of artistic photography.
I believe that this combined with the shock/dismay that Forkly investors must have felt when Foodspotting was acquired for only $10 million, pushed them to the position they’re in. #conjecture
In the end. Forkly is gone. If it gets acquired, it will get tweaked and lose it’s original appeal. If not, it will die on the fine. Either way #notHappy.