Vizify: We've been acquired by Yahoo!
March 5, 2014 4:07 PM   Subscribe

Vizify, the service which turns social data into pretty pictures, have been acquired by Yahoo. According to their announcement, "we just couldn’t say no to the opportunity to bring our vision to the hundreds of millions of people who use Yahoo every day." Vizify, operating out of Portland, was 2 years and 9 months old.

Geekwire: "As a result of the acquisition, Vizify will be shutting down its service and will no longer be accepting new users as of Wednesday."

c|net: "The buyout is Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer's 37th acquisition since taking the reins at the company in 2012."

Portland Business Journal: "Vizify's five employees are joining Yahoo's media product organization in San Francisco, according to a Yahoo spokesperson."

Barron's: "In addition, Yahoo announced this morning that it will no longer allow users sign into its services with their Facebook (FB) or Google (GOOG) IDs."
posted by Wordshore (26 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

Every time one of these big behemoths buys out a little company with a useful service, the first thing they do is shut the whole shit down. There is usually, as far as I can tell, no second thing. What's the point?
posted by 1adam12 at 4:10 PM on March 5 [9 favorites]

They are essentially buying teams of programmers and product managers. These new employees will further be financially incentivized to stay at Yahoo! for some period of time (18 months or so) as part of the acqui-hire.
posted by 2bucksplus at 4:13 PM on March 5 [1 favorite]

I am quietly hoping that there will be some kind of integration into Flickr. Possible? Flickrs "Stats" function is diabolically basic / next to useless, and the "Recent Activity" isn't much better.
posted by Wordshore at 4:17 PM on March 5

just put them all on Pipes and i'll be happy
posted by LogicalDash at 4:17 PM on March 5 [2 favorites]

RIP in peace Vizify
posted by Sternmeyer at 4:18 PM on March 5

Metafilter: We just couldn’t say no to the opportunity to bring our vision to the hundreds of millions of people who use Yahoo every day.
posted by Danf at 4:29 PM on March 5 [2 favorites]

RIP Vizify. The most remarkable part of this story to me is they were a Portland startup. Despite everyone's best efforts that's a hard thing to make work.

$1.5M of seed funding two years ago, 7 employees (5 going to Yahoo), this is a tiny blip. Usually in this kind of deal the investors come out even (if that) and the employees get a small hiring bonus. It's not a bad outcome compared to going broke, but it's not really worth stopping the presses for.
posted by Nelson at 4:35 PM on March 5

However, it is worth a link to Our Incredible Journey. Eventually, all the press releases blur together, and you just scan ahead to the part where they tell you how soon they'll be shredding all of your content.
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 4:46 PM on March 5 [1 favorite]

The Our Incredible Journey link now makes me feel bad for saying anything negative about Vizify. Compared to the alternative of going out of business, this is a good outcome for the investors, the team, and maybe even the product. I've done the "my startup is going broke and I'll take a buyer at any price" thing. It fucking sucks. Good on them for at least signing a deal.
posted by Nelson at 4:51 PM on March 5 [2 favorites]

Relevant. (Jesus Christ, Silicon Valley!)
posted by PercussivePaul at 5:01 PM on March 5 [3 favorites]

"we just couldn’t say no to the opportunity to bring our vision to the hundreds of
millions of people who use Yahoo every day."
posted by w0mbat at 5:11 PM on March 5

Every time I forget Yahoo! exists they do something like this that makes me hate them again until I forget about them again.
posted by dobbs at 5:16 PM on March 5 [2 favorites]

37th acquisition--like this one is suddenly going to be the one that works? Zig Ziglar, business guru, had something to say about what you call it when you keep doing the same thing and expecting different results...
posted by Sequence at 5:17 PM on March 5

Also, I like this comment on HN about a different acquisition a few months back which follows the same pattern.
Being acqui-hired is not something that you should be celebrating with your users... PERIOD. (On a side note, I'm genuinely happy for you all. Getting paid isn't a negative. It's a huge opportunity, but don't patronise your users).

"Yey us. :D We're super excited to announce we got acquired. High-five... too slow... Now go f* yourselves."

It's incredibly condescending to assume that any of your users share your happiness and are apart of this experience...

"We’re really excited..."

You use "we" so many times as if your users are apart of your acqui-hire, yet only mention "you" (your users who made this possible) in the closing statement.

Be honest and graceful, but asking your users for a high five on the way out isn't the way to do it.

The academy award speech at the end (I'd like to thank my mother, who believed in me...) always bothers me a bit. This whole culture bothers me a bit. These companies build value through a userbase who invest time in engaging with the product, but once the cash drops, the users get the boot. There's never an apology -- 'we're very sorry to have let you down by discontinuing a product that you've invested time in'. It's always a glorious day full on sunshine and thankyous. What about the users, huh?
posted by PercussivePaul at 5:21 PM on March 5 [10 favorites]

Did that Yahoo search thing ever take off? It might be an alternative to Google.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:29 PM on March 5 [1 favorite]

Hey, I know those guys. Huh.
posted by fiercekitten at 5:38 PM on March 5

Whenever I notice that someone has Yahoo! for a home page, or uses Yahoo! Search, I assume that the browser was highjacked. I would also not let said person anywhere near my computer.
posted by Brocktoon at 6:49 PM on March 5 [5 favorites]

Every time I forget Yahoo! exists they do something like this that makes me hate them again until I forget about them again.

I have a Yahoo email address that I used about seven years ago during a transition period when I was moving overseas and didn't have any other email. I've since moved on to Gmail, but every so often a relative or acquaintance who didn't get the memo--i.e., my last five friendly reminders to them that no, I don't really check that address much any more--will use it.

It's like having an appendix that flames up every few months and can't be removed.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 7:02 PM on March 5 [1 favorite]

I'm not sure what the big deal (to us here in the MetaFilter peanut gallery) about getting bought out by Yahoo.

We talk about the "users", but if you are a startup and you accept seed capital, your primary allegiance and strategic focus will either be scaling up (very hard) or getting acquired (hard) to earn ROI.

From my armchair, I often wonder why Yahoo doesn't position itself for what it really is - quasi-VC fund that purchases intellectual capital. I know a few reasons why this is difficult (you can't brand yourself as a VC fund if you are a media company), so there is a method to the madness it seems to me.

I just doubt Yahoo's aims are particularly relevant to the Yahoo "legacy users" Marisa Mayer inherited, but I guess the beast (Yahoo users) needs to be fed.

Anyway, having worked with startups, I say to these guys, "great work" for accomplishing what they set out to do.

On the other hand, the question of whether or not the tech sector's general cultural focus on "getting acquired" while disdaining slow-growth but stable "mom and pop tech shops" is a healthy focus to have is another (to me, anyway) interesting discussion.

In British Columbia's tech sector there is a general derision for the "mom and pop lifestyle" tech businesses, but this strategy has done very well for Victoria BC since 2000, where the sector is dominated by slow-growth companies of (these days) around 50-100 employees.

Vancouver on the other hand doesn't have this same culture. I think Hootsuite is doing the right thing by promising to build Vancouver's "first $1B company", but the apparatchiks in the tech space are always talking about "cashing out and getting acquired."

I wonder if crossing the chasm and scaling up is more difficult, or is it easier, or maybe it just presents a different kind of difficulty...
posted by KokuRyu at 8:58 PM on March 5 [1 favorite]

I can't help but wonder what it is that Yahoo is planning on DOING with all these aqui-hires. I mean, right now Yahoo basically consists of a bunch of unsuccessful units that bleed money, glued like ballast to the skyrocketing balloon that is Alibaba. Mayer's been buying a bunch of what seem like very talented engineers (including, two weeks ago, a startup that I actually almost went to work for), but I can't for the life of me figure out what Yahoo is actually doing with any of them.
posted by Itaxpica at 10:01 PM on March 5 [1 favorite]

This reminds me of the Flickr acquisition--buying a really great company with a bunch of smart people. Only instead of integrating the whole thing, they're going to put a bullet in the head of what is a pretty neat service and exiling the team to SF. (PDX has some issues but at least you can live here.) I really figured that LinkedIn would acquire Vizify, to be honest.

Be curious to see what data visualizations that come out of it--that Facebook video that came out earlier this year is still not as cool as the "Year on Twitter" that Vizify has had for two years.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 10:07 PM on March 5

I can't for the life of me figure out what Yahoo is actually doing with any of them.

I can. But that's about all I can say about that. It is fun watching everybody speculate and complain, though.
posted by davejay at 10:22 PM on March 5

Whenever I notice that someone has Yahoo! for a home page, or uses Yahoo! Search, I assume that the browser was highjacked.

Oh, it's not nearly that bad. It could be MSN.
posted by dhartung at 11:53 PM on March 5

It is fun watching everybody speculate and complain, though.

Contempt for the concerns and uncertainties in the actual or potential user base is a sure sign that a company is about to skid out. Only Jobs could get away with that, and he's dead.
posted by Slap*Happy at 3:12 AM on March 6

My optimism for Yahoo went way up when they put Marissa Meyer in charge. She's incredibly capable and a great match for Yahoo. I can't imagine a better choice for making that company ambitious and relevant again.

Then my optimism collapsed when I saw what happened to Flickr. I tried hard, for months, to like NuFlickr. I held my tongue for literally six months before complaining about the design. But the UI just kept getting more and more confusing. And basic things like "show me all my photos that match this string" stopped working reliably. I hear on the rumor mill that Flickr is one of Marissa's pet projects, that she's personally involved and driving changes. I imagine I can see her management style all over the failed result.

There are more rumors that Yahoo is building a new search engine, trying to own text search for themselves again. That's a huge uphill struggle and one I hope they try and succeed at. But I'm glad I'm not an investor if that's their big plan for saving the company.

Yahoo still owns some $36 billion worth of Alibaba. It's by far the most important thing that company possesses. (Yahoo's market cap is only $40B!) Alibaba still hasn't gone public, there's some weirdness going on that makes it unclear what's going to happen.
posted by Nelson at 9:15 AM on March 6 [1 favorite]

I can't for the life of me figure out what Yahoo is actually doing with any of them.

My theory: this, plus Yahoo's recent cancelling of work-from-home and the like is a stealthy plan to replace the current development team. Arguably, this could be considered age discrimination although presumably the best people left for greener pastures long ago.
posted by suetanvil at 3:19 PM on March 6

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