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San Francisco Failures

36 Failed Startups Founded in San Francisco

Here's a list of 36 failed startups from San Francisco, analyses on why they shut down, and interviews with their founders.

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Here’s a list of 36 failed startups from San Francisco.

Some of them were big, with huge teams and funding rounds.

Others were smaller, ran by the co-founders, and with no funding.

But all of them shut down.

And each for a specific cause of failure.


36 Failed Startups Founded in San Francisco

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Anki

Anki

Anki aimed to integrate robotics and IoT into children's toys and games. They ceased operations by the end of April 2019 due to a failed round of financing.

Details of the startup:

  • Founders:

    Boris Sofman, Hanns Tappeiner, Mark Palatucci

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Software & Hardware

  • Started in:

    2010

  • Closed in:

    2019

  • Nº of employees:

    100-250

  • Funding Amount:

    > $50M

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Lack of Funds

You can read more about their failure here.

Circa

Circa

Circa had the mission of ‘fixing’ what was wrong with journalism. They suffered a financial breakdown and were copied by giants in the news sector.

Details of the startup:

  • Founders:

    Arsenio Santos, Ben Huh, Matt Galligan

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Entertainment

  • Started in:

    2011

  • Closed in:

    2015

  • Nº of employees:

    10-50

  • Funding Amount:

    $1M-$10M

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Lack of Funds

You can read more about their failure here.

DotCloud

DotCloud

dotCloud was a PaaS for developers that enabled them to host, assemble and run their applications. They could not sustain operation costs by themselves.

Details of the startup:

  • Founders:

    Solomon Hykes

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Software & Hardware

  • Started in:

    2008

  • Closed in:

    2016

  • Nº of employees:

    250-500

  • Funding Amount:

    $10M-$50M

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Mismanagement of Funds

You can read more about their failure here.

Flowtab

Flowtab

Flowtab was an app that solved the problem of long queues in bars. They tried several business models but never found a profitable one, so they shut down.

Details of the startup:

  • Founders:

    Mike Townsend

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Food & Beverage

  • Started in:

    2011

  • Closed in:

    2013

  • Nº of employees:

    50-100

  • Funding Amount:

    $0

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Bad Business Model

You can read more about their failure here.

Formspring

Formspring

Formspring was an anonymous Q&A forum that grew to 1 million users in 2 months. This brought lots of cyberbullying on the site. They shut down after 4 years.

Details of the startup:

  • Founders:

    Ade Olonoh, John Wechsler

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Social Media

  • Started in:

    2009

  • Closed in:

    2013

  • Nº of employees:

    10-50

  • Funding Amount:

    $10M-$50M

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Legal Challenges

You can read more about their failure here.

Gowalla

Gowalla

Gowalla was a location-based social platform that allowed users to share their location. It tried to do many things at once, and shut down after 5 years.

Details of the startup:

  • Founders:

    Josh Williams, Scott Raymond

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Social Media

  • Started in:

    2007

  • Closed in:

    2013

  • Nº of employees:

    10-50

  • Funding Amount:

    $10M-$50M

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Competition

You can read more about their failure here.

HiGear

HiGear

HiGear was a peer-to-peer online company that listed luxury cars for rent. A criminal gang stole four cars worth $400k. They opted to shut down operations.

Details of the startup:

  • Founders:

    Ali Moiz, Murtaza Hussain

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Transportation

  • Started in:

    2011

  • Closed in:

    2011

  • Nº of employees:

    1-10

  • Funding Amount:

    $1M-$10M

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Legal Challenges

You can read more about their failure here.

Kitchit

Kitchit

Kitchit brought local chefs to your home. They had to compete with other big food providers in the same market, which provoked their failure.

Details of the startup:

  • Founders:

    Brendan Marshall, Ian Ferguson

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Food & Beverage

  • Started in:

    2011

  • Closed in:

    2016

  • Nº of employees:

    10-50

  • Funding Amount:

    $1M-$10M

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Competition

You can read more about their failure here.

Leap Transit

Leap Transit

Leap Transit was a private bus service based in San Francisco. They didn't comply with the SF regulations, which made them halt their operations.

Details of the startup:

  • Founders:

    Kyle Kirchhoff

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Transportation

  • Started in:

    2013

  • Closed in:

    2015

  • Nº of employees:

    50-100

  • Funding Amount:

    $1M-$10M

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Legal Challenges

You can read more about their failure here.

Lookery

Lookery

Lookery gave statistics showcasing services that empowered organizations. It was based on Facebook platform, and after the redesign, they had to shut down.

Details of the startup:

  • Founders:

    David Cancel, Rex Dixon, Todd Sawicki

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Marketing

  • Started in:

    2007

  • Closed in:

    2009

  • Nº of employees:

    1-10

  • Funding Amount:

    $1M-$10M

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Dependence on Others

You can read more about their failure here.

Mailbox

Mailbox

Mailbox made your inbox more manageable and efficient. They didn't find a way to monetize the app. After being acquired by Dropbox, Mailbox shut down.

Details of the startup:

  • Founders:

    Gentry Underwood, Scott Cannon

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Productivity

  • Started in:

    2011

  • Closed in:

    2015

  • Nº of employees:

    500-1,000

  • Funding Amount:

    $1M-$10M

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Bad Business Model

You can read more about their failure here.

Move Loot

Move Loot

Move Loot was an online resale marketplace for furniture. They decided to have a furniture stockroom without thinking about the expenses of running it.

Details of the startup:

  • Founders:

    Bill Bobbitt, Jenny Karin Morrill, Ryan Smith, Shruti Shah

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    e-Commerce

  • Started in:

    2013

  • Closed in:

    2016

  • Nº of employees:

    50-100

  • Funding Amount:

    $10M-$50M

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Bad Business Model

You can read more about their failure here.

Munchery

Munchery

Munchery allowed users to order gourmet food. However, they couldn't deliver the experience that it promised and build a profitable business model.

Details of the startup:

  • Founders:

    Conrad Chu, Tri Tran, Van Tran

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Food & Beverage

  • Started in:

    2011

  • Closed in:

    2019

  • Nº of employees:

    100-250

  • Funding Amount:

    > $50M

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Multiple Reasons

You can read more about their failure here.

Navdy

Navdy

Navdy provided a display that projected GPS in the cars' front. They failed due to a saturated market and a device that didn't satisfy customer needs.

Details of the startup:

  • Founders:

    Doug Simpson, Karl Guttag

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Transportation

  • Started in:

    2013

  • Closed in:

    2018

  • Nº of employees:

    50-100

  • Funding Amount:

    $10M-$50M

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Multiple Reasons

You can read more about their failure here.

Pixate

Pixate

Pixate wanted to make prototyping and designing apps more accessible and effortless. It was acquired by Google in 2015, and after a year, it was shut down.

Details of the startup:

  • Founders:

    Kevin Lindsey, Paul Colton

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Design

  • Started in:

    2012

  • Closed in:

    2016

  • Nº of employees:

    10-50

  • Funding Amount:

    $1M-$10M

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Acquisition Flu

You can read more about their failure here.

Rdio

Rdio

Rdio was a music streaming service. Its weakness was the non-existent marketing and distribution strategy. Spotify ramped up and Rdio went out of business.

Details of the startup:

  • Founders:

    Carter Adamson, Janus Friis, Niklas Zennström

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Music

  • Started in:

    2008

  • Closed in:

    2015

  • Nº of employees:

    50-100

  • Funding Amount:

    > $50M

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Competition

You can read more about their failure here.

Secret

Secret

Secret was an app that allowed users to post content anonymously. Active users rapidly declined after 18 months from its launch and cyberbullying emerged.

Details of the startup:

  • Founders:

    Chrys Bader-Wechseler, David Byttow

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Social Media

  • Started in:

    2013

  • Closed in:

    2015

  • Nº of employees:

    10-50

  • Funding Amount:

    $10M-$50M

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Legal Challenges

You can read more about their failure here.

Shuddle

Shuddle

Shuddle was the go-to service for parents that needed someone to drive their kids to school. Parents found it disappointing, so they had to shut down.

Details of the startup:

  • Founders:

    Nick Allen, Rodrigo Prudencio

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Transportation

  • Started in:

    2014

  • Closed in:

    2016

  • Nº of employees:

    10-50

  • Funding Amount:

    $10M-$50M

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Lack of Funds

You can read more about their failure here.

Shyp

Shyp

Shyp imitated the Uber model with an on-demand shipping service. However, they were unable to figure out a profitable business model and had to shut down.

Details of the startup:

  • Founders:

    Jack Smith, Joshua Scott, Kevin Gibbon

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Transportation

  • Started in:

    2013

  • Closed in:

    2018

  • Nº of employees:

    10-50

  • Funding Amount:

    > $50M

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Multiple Reasons

You can read more about their failure here.

Sidecar

Sidecar

Sidecar was a transportation company. They had top-notch technology but no marketing strategy, and could only become useful in high-density cities.

Details of the startup:

  • Founders:

    Jahan Khanna, Sunil Paul

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Transportation

  • Started in:

    2011

  • Closed in:

    2015

  • Nº of employees:

    50-100

  • Funding Amount:

    $10M-$50M

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Competition

You can read more about their failure here.

Sip

Sip

Sip was made by ProductHunt. It covered news in the tech industry in a bite-size format. Due to no market need and lack of focus, PH shut it down.

Details of the startup:

  • Founders:

    Ryan Hoover, Nick Abouzeid, Chad Whitaker

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Productivity

  • Started in:

    2018

  • Closed in:

    2019

  • Nº of employees:

    1-10

  • Funding Amount:

    $0

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Multiple Reasons

You can read more about their failure here.

Skully

Skully

Skully was a helmet targetting motorcycle riders. They had to close shops due to no fundings and couldn't complete the production of the pre-orders.

Details of the startup:

  • Founders:

    Marcus Weller, Mitch Weller

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Transportation

  • Started in:

    2013

  • Closed in:

    2016

  • Nº of employees:

    10-50

  • Funding Amount:

    $10M-$50M

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Mismanagement of Funds

You can read more about their failure here.

SpoonRocket

SpoonRocket

SpoonRocket was a food delivery service making healthy meals each day. When their financial situation declined, they failed to fundraise to stay afloat.

Details of the startup:

  • Founders:

    Anson Tsui, Steven Hsiao

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Food & Beverage

  • Started in:

    2013

  • Closed in:

    2016

  • Nº of employees:

    10-50

  • Funding Amount:

    $10M-$50M

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Competition

You can read more about their failure here.

Sprig

Sprig

Sprig delivered meals to customers who were looking for healthy choices. Sprig found the process time-consuming and expensive, and decided to shut down.

Details of the startup:

  • Founders:

    Gagan Biyani, Matt Kent, Morgan Springer, Neeraj Berry

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Food & Beverage

  • Started in:

    2013

  • Closed in:

    2017

  • Nº of employees:

    50-100

  • Funding Amount:

    > $50M

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Competition

You can read more about their failure here.

TeeBeeDee

TeeBeeDee

TeeBeeDee was a social network aimed at people over 40 to share their experiences. They weren’t able to grow their user base fast enough to survive.

Details of the startup:

  • Founders:

    David Markus, Jon Brandt, Robin Wolaner, Todd Basche

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Social Media

  • Started in:

    2007

  • Closed in:

    2009

  • Nº of employees:

    10-50

  • Funding Amount:

    $1M-$10M

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Bad Business Model

You can read more about their failure here.

Tilt

Tilt

Tilt was a social payments startup. The CEO was believed to become the next Zuckerberg. However, lack of focus led to shutting down their operations.

Details of the startup:

  • Founders:

    James Beshara, Karolyn Baxter, Khaled Hussein

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Finances

  • Started in:

    2012

  • Closed in:

    2017

  • Nº of employees:

    100-250

  • Funding Amount:

    > $50M

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Lack of Focus

You can read more about their failure here.

Wantful

Wantful

Wantful was an e-Commerce founded in 2011. After experiencing exponential growth, it shut down in 2013 due to stiff competition from other companies.

Details of the startup:

  • Founders:

    John Poisson

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    e-Commerce

  • Started in:

    2011

  • Closed in:

    2013

  • Nº of employees:

    +10,000

  • Funding Amount:

    $1M-$10M

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Competition

You can read more about their failure here.

Wesabe

Wesabe

Wesabe is a former Personal Finance Management system that helped clients make better financial decisions. Having better competitors made Wesabe fail.

Details of the startup:

  • Founders:

    Jason Knight, Marc Hedlund

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Finances

  • Started in:

    2005

  • Closed in:

    2010

  • Nº of employees:

    10-50

  • Funding Amount:

    $1M-$10M

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Bad Management

You can read more about their failure here.

Ansaro

Ansaro

Sam was one of the co-founders of Ansaro, a SaaS that aimed to revolutionize the recruiting industry through the use of technologies like AI. They raised $2.25M from institutional investors and $750K from friends and family, grew the team to 6 members and earned in total $100k. But with expenses of $70k/month and no product-market fit, they had to shut down 2 years later.

Details of the startup:

  • Founder:

    Sam Stone

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Software & Hardware

  • Started in:

    2016

  • Closed in:

    2018

  • Funding Amount:

    $1M-$5M

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Bad Market Fit

You can read more about their failure here.

Eloquis

Eloquis

Eloquis was all about bringing personalization to mobile apps. The problem? Early in the market and targeted the wrong customer segment.

Details of the startup:

  • Founder:

    Rohit Nallapeta

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Software & Hardware

  • Started in:

    2010

  • Closed in:

    2011

  • Funding Amount:

    $0

  • Specific cause of failure:

    No Market Need

You can read more about their failure here.

Gulp

Gulp

Jeff Orr and two friends in college started Gulp- an app to pay bar cover. Gulp was meant to replace the inconvenience of having to go an ATM to pay for a bar’s cover fee, but with the lack of affiliate marketing knowledge and some bad unit economics, the friends quickly ran out of money.

Details of the startup:

  • Founder:

    Jeff Orr

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Software & Hardware

  • Started in:

    2014

  • Closed in:

    2015

  • Funding Amount:

    $0

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Bad Business Model

You can read more about their failure here.

Hot Barber

Hot Barber

Hot Barber was a website that let hair stylists set up profiles and customers browse portfolios, but the founders couldn't find a way to monetize it!

Details of the startup:

  • Founder:

    Julia Enthoven

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Software & Hardware

  • Started in:

    2017

  • Closed in:

    2018

  • Funding Amount:

    $0

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Bad Business Model

You can read more about their failure here.

MotionThink

MotionThink

After moving to SF, Andrew joined a startup accelerator that included a co-founder dating phase. There, he met some co-founders with whom he built MotionThink, a startup that built productivity tools for freelancers. Some months and +$100,000 after, the startup was shut down. Learn what went wrong!

Details of the startup:

  • Founder:

    Andrew Chen

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Productivity

  • Started in:

    2011

  • Closed in:

    2012

  • Funding Amount:

    $100K-$500K

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Bad Management

You can read more about their failure here.

Playdate

Playdate

Logan was the CEO and CTO of Playdate, an on-demand social networking app. In two years, the startup grew to a team of 7 at its peak and 5,000 monthly active users. However, a collection of causes made the startup uninvestable and they eventually run out of money.

Details of the startup:

  • Founder:

    Logan Rado

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Social Media

  • Started in:

    2016

  • Closed in:

    2019

  • Funding Amount:

    $0

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Lack of Funds

You can read more about their failure here.

Tandem

Tandem

Tandem was a live streaming platform for fitness. Cause of failure? Live fitness isn't that engaging. Influencers were reluctant to adopt a new platform.

Details of the startup:

  • Founder:

    Nick Raushenbush

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Health

  • Started in:

    2016

  • Closed in:

    2016

  • Funding Amount:

    $0

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Bad Market Fit

You can read more about their failure here.

Tandem App

Tandem App

Will is a software engineer based in San Francisco, who co-founded Tandem, an app to help people stay on top of their medications. They carried out some research and considered it was a great business idea. But, after launching, they discovered retention was really difficult and decided not to continue.

Details of the startup:

  • Founder:

    Will Sun

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Health

  • Started in:

    2016

  • Closed in:

    2016

  • Funding Amount:

    $0

  • Specific cause of failure:

    No Market Need

You can read more about their failure here.

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