Your favorite startup is acquired? Grab your data and run

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Founding a startup is risky. Using their apps (or other products and services) can be, too. That’s because aside from failing, startups are often acquired, for many millions of dollars, by the likes of Apple, Facebook, Google, and Yahoo. And when that happens, the startups often disappear.

Here's a PDF of a column I wrote about startups being acquired and then shut down.
Here’s a PDF of a column I wrote about startups being acquired and then shut down.

All of these companies have acquired startups in recent years — startups with users who signed up for their services and thought they would be around for a while — and then shut them down. They’re often simply “acqui-hires”; the company wants the talent (that is, the software engineers and others working for the startup) rather than the startup’s app or services. And you, the customer? You’re often lost in the shuffle.

Consider the recent acquisition of the photo/video app Ptch by Yahoo. Ptch posted a celebratory message on the website’s homepage. And why not? That’s often the goal of a startup: You create a company, and it’s acquired. A blog post had this to say: “We launched Ptch just over a year ago. Our passion and our mission was to give you the best way to make and share beautiful movies made from the photos and videos on your phone. Well, someone noticed!”

Yet where does this leave the customer? Pretty much nowhere.

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