The story could be told in the 308 and 1970 followers, the last of which was more than 13 months ago.
AT Shaker, the app that enabled you to live directly through your Facebook profile, within rooms/virtual zones, has disappeared into thin air. Have you seen it anywhere?
Let’s step back in 2009 to Tel Aviv, Israel , where a group of 10 friends (half of which are relatives) are creating Scene 53 with the aim of developing a virtual world, a cross between Second Life, The Sims and Turntable.ff.
Two main target markets.
1 – Consumer: the Facebook profile of the users would become a kind of avatar with the opportunity to meet new people in these virtual worlds based on common interests. How? Well, in “shaken” fashion . You could meet people with the same date of birth, or who loved the same music, or practiced the same sport or who listened to similar music. Or who lived in the same neighborhood or attended the same school or university. It was not expected for anyone to take any further steps, such as a subsequent physical meeting in realty.
2 – Corporate: the sale of virtual meeting space to companies for the organization of on-line events, concerts, socializing. In fact, if the app had become a success, there would have been many possible commercial applications.
This nice video well explains the operation and the creation of Shaker.
From the very beginning, in 2010, the company received $1 million in funding and grew rapidly.
In March 2011, it received an additional $ 2 M from Pitango Venture which gave it the push for continued growth, which lead the entrepreneurs to be honored throughout the world as one of the most innovative start-ups. Including the prestigious TechCrunch Disrupt, the famous event that annually appoints the most promising and disruptive startups.
The app worked great in 2011, and at first the only problem was actually just the presence of too many people in the same virtual places for too long. The dream of every social network!
In October 2011 there was a further round of funding of $15 million and in January 2012 Motorola Ventures also put in a chip for a few million US$. The money collected in 2011 and early 2012 was intended to make a further leap in quality and to be able to climb the difficult American market.
Did they make it?
They planned to open an office in San Francisco and to launch a strong advertising campaign… but the growth was not as was hoped for, and after some initial interest the public didn’t seem to care for it and indeed, especially among American teens, who were the real target of the company, it didn’t seem to take root at all.
What happened between 2012 and the present day?
What happened is that the last tweet was dated October 2012 and in spite of the efforts and investments made, you can’t help but feel when you use the app (still in operation), that it’s the same as walking into a modern abandoned village of the Far West.
Let’s recap the funding received (more than $20 M):
– July 2010, Seed, $1 M from Zaki Rakib;
– March 2011, Angel, $ 2 M, from Pitango Venture Capital;
– In October 2011 , Series A, $ 15 M dollars from Menlo Ventures , Crunch Fund, Innovation Endeavors , again from Pitango, Troy Carter;
– January 2012, Series B, Motorola Ventures.
What were the causes of this failure? Why, despite the best of intentions, have they failed to conquer the American market?
I believe that in this case the reasons are substantially the following:
– the market for teenage social networks is really very complex and there are clashes, not only with the evolution of Facebook, but also with interaction systems that are faster and more immediate (What’s app and those similar are growing a lot within that target) ;
– the technological evolution of the app wasn’t adequate in spite of the investments received;
– they were not accompanied by professionals with a strong know-how of the American market, which the founders did not have a very in-depth knowledge of;
– tf the 10 founders, 6 were relatives: a lack of professionalism in my opinion.