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Everpix, SnapChat and the Startup Lie

Everpix, SnapChat and the Startup Lie

Making acquisitions the default goal for brand new software program groups is nothing more than demoralizing.

At their center, Everpix and Snapchat are both nicely-designed, terrific-hyped software offerings centered round pictures.

For the unfamiliar, Everpix is a freemium picture website hosting service that has six employees and six,800 paying customers. Everpix lately announced that they’re shutting down in grand fashion, after running out of cash. The final straw? Their incapability to pay an expected $35,000 month-to-month website hosting bill from Amazon AWS.

Contrast that with Snapchat–the 20-plus worker, zero-revenue, transient selfie app that secured a massive $60M spherical of investment in June, got swanky new workplace digs in Venice, and supposedly is in line to get even extra money!

Why is a provider that people actually pay for remaining, whilst a zero-earnings organization benefits from over-funding?

Everpix’s deadly flaw in the eyes of a VC

Well-regarded begin-up blogger Andrew Chen had some matters to say approximately the Everpix postmortem, with this gem specially catching my eye: Focusing on monetization too early can lead to a white flag, because it’ll suggest the entrepreneur is questioning small instead of that specialize in triumphing the marketplace.

Those of you now not living in begin-up bizarro international are likely scratching your head at that one, but it explains the scenario flawlessly.

See, most mission capitalists swing for the fences, all of the time. They don’t care approximately base hits, doubles, and (once in a while) domestic runs. They need the grand slam, the huge idea, The Next Facebook.

Small profitable organizations, in particular those that don’t show pump-and-unload ability, get shunned with the aid of VCs. They even use patronizing terms to explain such operations, like “life-style groups.”

Make cash? No, don’t do this!

The phenomenon of sales-producing groups being denied investment is not anything new. These prices come from a 2012 New York Times article, which just as without difficulty could have been written in 2001.

Yet a good more bizarre pastime inside the Valley than shushing the communicate of a bubble is how a few start-usaare counseled by traders not to make money. This concept may also sound ridiculous from a commercial enterprise point of view, but for traders, it fuels the get-richer-quicker mentality that exists right here.

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When small start-u.S.I’ve spoken with do make cash, they regularly locate it tough to recruit extra funding due to the fact maximum mission capitalists–and often the entrepreneurs they finance–are not interested in constructing feasible lengthy-term companies. Rather, they’re interested by pumping up sufficient hype and valuation to find a short go out through an acquisition at a watch-popping top rate. This is precisely why Snapchat is flush with VC cash, at the same time as Everpix is paying out refunds to as soon as glad clients.

However, I don’t purchase into the idea that being profitable is why Everpix closed shop. Everpix failed by using believing the false impression that they have to be “the following big start-up.” The truth that we’re in 2013 and acquisition is still the default goal for brand new software program companies is demoralizing. Everpix ought to nonetheless be jogging their product as a a hit enterprise, but it’s obvious that’s no longer what they desired to do.

Everpix with the aid of the numbers

Based on what we recognize approximately Everpix’s subscriber matter and price plans, it seems they'd the capacity to make something within the variety of $370,000/year.

If you look at the numbers from this article, you’ll see Everpix turned into splurging on employees fees to the song of over $4,934,691 $1.16M in  years. That’s a few classic VC-subsidized overspending. This puts the common revenue round $100k/year normal (some may even say decrease) for the Bay Area.

I’m no math whiz, but I ran a few “lower back of the napkin” numbers and it’s clear that Everpix could nonetheless be round in the event that they had surely saved expenses low until they became a success.


Getting a product off the ground takes sacrifice–I understand because I’ve completed it. Software builders inside the start-up network are spoiled, particularly within the Bay Area. This notion of getting your cake (large earnings) and consuming it too (big fairness stakes) proper from the start is insane. By certainly paying themselves $50-60K/yr, they could are becoming by way of and constructed a sustainable commercial enterprise within the process.

Before you leap within the comments and cry about poverty ranges in San Francisco and the price of living, please simply stop. There are more than one ways round this like faraway hiring, consulting at the side, being based totally in other locations, and so on. Again, I’ve executed it and I stay inside the same location.


Everpix must have dropped all its free customers and become a top class-best carrier.

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Doing so could have decreased their month-to-month AWS bill from $35,000 to around $four,300–and in my revel in, switching from a freemium to a paid-handiest version works superbly.


It bears repeating that what made Everpix fail became the perception that they must be The Next Facebook (or maybe Instagram).

Photo garage and sharing is a big enterprise and it’s huge sufficient for many players to succeed. It’s been envisioned that Flickr is making around $50M/yr from a aggregate of paying customers and advertising and marketing. Armed with this understanding, why not intention for the $50M/12 months mark as a substitute of having acquired and cashing out early?

Final thoughts

The Everpix crew constructed a exceptional product. Attracting 6,800 paying customers in two years is not any small feat, so kudos to them. I want them nicely with whatever challenges they tackle next.

As someone who’s struggled with my own start-up screw ups, I realize precisely the way it feels to be of their footwear and it’s a bummer.

If you’re an engineer readying a product launch, I urge you to consciousness on creating a sustainable enterprise, as an alternative of purchasing into the perception that acquisition paydays and task capital are the pleasant manner to operate.

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