Formspring

Encouraged people to get to know each other
Startup Cemetery
GENERAL INFORMATION
Category:
Social Media
Country:
United States
Started:
2009
BUSINESS FAILURE
Outcome:
Shut Down
Cause:
Legal Challenges
Closed:
2013
FOUNDERS & EMPLOYEES
Number of Founders:
2
Name of Founders:
Ade Olonoh, John Wechsler
Number of Employees:
10-50
FUNDING
Number of Funding Rounds:
2
Total Funding Amount:
$14.3M
Number of Investors:
13

What was Formspring?

Formspring was an anonymous Q&A forum. The platform saw a rapid growth on its launch: 1 million users in less than two months. It allowed people to anonymously ask questions and send messages to other users without having to sign up.

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Why did Formspring fail and shut down?

As with any other platform that gains its attraction for its anonymous features, Formspring’s users rushed in, but as the user base increased so did the problems that were associated with anonymity. Cyberbullying came to the level that several teen suicides were linked to the bullying that took place on the site.

The startup tried to remedy by collaborating with the MIT Lab to search for a way to discourage cyberbullying. Eventually, the site had to limit the anonymity feature but that meant that it would lose its appeal, users started decreasing and growth simply froze.

If success leaves clues, so does failure. Many platforms that focused solely on anonymous interactions had to pull out the plug because of the predictable type of behavior that people tend to have when they can’t or don’t have to be accountable for their actions,even when those actions directly endangered the psychological or physical well-being of another human being.

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