Post 46:08 The Plurk effect, or how a startup can die in 12 hours

By now you’ve heard of Twitter, right?

Well it seems that at some point in the last 24 hours or so, a twitter competitor with the unlikely name of ‘Plurk‘ has come into being.

It has probably died too.

Plurk’s first few hours were pretty good. I started seeing Tweets (twitter messages) about it early this morning and signed up for an account. It took less than two minutes to realise I would not be back. First was the lack of a feature to scrape in or mashup my Twitter feed, functionality that is interesting to many Twitter users and others whose membership of many social networks makes an aggregator/funnel useful. Twitter’s own reliability problems are fuelling the desire for such tools.

Plurk cannot help with these issues, so people are turned off as soon as they register.

Then the IM registration crashed.

Through the day, I have seen many Tweets recording similar dissatisfaction. As I write, the Tweets are describing an ongoing crash. So all the folks hoping to try the new service are instead frustrated.

I suspect the final nail in the Plurk coffin is this Tweet from Robert Scoble, in which he writes:

Hahahah. Plurk is already down. Fail. And no Fail Whale, either. Double fail! Hint: if you want to be the next Twitter: stay up. Always.

You don’t need to be a genius to reach that conclusion. You also don’t need to be a genius to realise that ANY product or service can lose any chance of success in the first few hours of its life these days. Perhaps more importantly, when powerful influencers like Scoble comment on new products in more or less real time, your product needs to be amazingly robust the second you release it.

I’ve no idea if PRs are ready for this kind of ultra-fast news cycle.

Anyway, I now wonder if tanking spectacularly, as Plurk has done, could become known as ‘Plurking’ or ‘The Plurk Effect’?

Probably not, because Plurk is a really stupid name. But that’s another discussion.

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6 thoughts on “Post 46:08 The Plurk effect, or how a startup can die in 12 hours

  1. Hey JM,

    hmmm, have to disagree with you on a few things here. First things first though, what I actually agree with you on is that Plurk has way too many bugs. Error messages for everything, difficulties adding the friends I want to, and yeah, it would be great to be able to mashup Twitter easily with my Plurk account.

    But perhaps there’s the rub: some of these things should be right at launch, but some of the features will just come along pretty soon after launch I suspect. The web works just fine improving as it goes along, and I don’t think writing a new software off after 12 hours says much about the software itself, and perhaps more about how insanely impatient we’ve become before we write off the next startup.

    Whatever happened to seeing what happens?

    Scoble is of course right when he says that a Twitter replacement really needs to stay up (Twitter’s Achilles heel) but let’s just delay our judgement a little longer before we are so quick to write a potentially interesting service off completely. At least until we’ve had a play ourselves.

    Besides, the community is already figuring out ways to do all sorts of fun things with Plurk:

    http://askowen.info/index.php/2008/06/how-do-i-send-my-plurks-to-twitter/

    Great to read your post though. What do you think about this issue in the wider scope?

    Should a start-up be bug free, or is it ok to launch and get better?

  2. MarketingMag, I stand by the post because Plurk took itself to market fully-hatched.
    Zillions of other Web 2.0 startups release in Beta status. That sets an expectation that everything could be a bit wobbly.
    Nor was there an invitation process so Plurk could observe the effect of a slowly growing user population.
    Plurk took itself public and within its first day of life was ridiculed by one of the most influential people among its potential users. To me, that’s just dumb because it ignores many of the iteration possibilities that you point out and sets the wrong expectation.

  3. Pffft – so the allmighty scoble disses plurk -yeah we should all stop using it and stick with good old dependable twitter then. (Sarcasm)

    i’m not for one minute saying Scoble isn’t a clever dude – but it’s a bit like Apple Fanboys – too many people buying into the overpriced cool 😉

    For the record – i like and use both, but to say plurks a dead horse is a little overestimating things methinks. Unless of course there’s a covert discredit Plurk campaign happening 😉

  4. Several months later, Plurk is still alive and kicking.

    Did Twitter ever get around to scaling their service, or have they just changed the home page to and called it off?

  5. Shawn makes a a good point: Plurk has failed to die. I’m disappointed I suggested it would, as I try to avoid simple dualism.
    Yet Twitter is now achieving global prominence and Plurk is … well I don’t know what Plurk is. The quality of conversation there was disappointing and I have not visited (or felt the need to do so) in months. Twitter, by contrast, is now embedded firmly in my life.

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