Back in 2009 when we were still The Bivings Group we built a tool called Twitterslurp that tracked Twitter conversations at conferences and events. Twitterslurp ingested tweets based on hashtag and/or keyword, and included features such as a live stream of all relevant tweets, a permanent archive of the Twitter conversation, a leaderboard showing the most active Twitter users at the conference and a stats page analyzing the discussion.
We built the tool for a couple of conferences we attended and it was popular, so we released the Twitterslurp code to the open source community and launched Slurp 140, an on demand version of Twitterslurp that allowed conference organizers to launch their own branded version of the tool for free.
After working on the project off and on for over three years, we decided late in 2012 to shut down Slurp 140 as of January 1, 2013.
Why We Shut It Down
From the beginning, we saw Slurp 140 as a marketing tool for our company as opposed to a commercial product. Slurp 140 included Brick Factory branding, so attendees at conferences would inevitably learn about our company through their use of the tool. As a marketing tool it was pretty successful initially. We got countless compliments and Slurp 140 helped us build brand awareness.
Over the years we thought about monetizing Slurp 140, but never pulled the trigger. The math didn’t work. The revenue we would generate from a paid version didn’t justify the development time required to create it.
Once we decided not to launch a paid version, we didn’t invest much in the way of development resources in Slurp 140. We made improvements here and there, but the product as it existed in December 2012 was more or less the same product we launched originally in 2009.
We didn’t expand tracking options to ingest data from other services such as Instagram and Flickr. We didn’t create a mobile-friendly version of the tool. We didn’t build widgets that would allow the tool to be easily embedded on client sites. We didn’t modernize the user interface.
While Slurp 140 sort of stayed stuck in time, innovative new tracking products came to market that included most of the features we had planned. Slurp 140 was no longer unique.
By 2012, Slurp 140 had become something of a white elephant for us. We were spending time and money hosting and maintaining the product, and getting little in return. It just wasn’t worth it any more. So we shut Slurp 140 down.
Our Plan for 2013
The digital consulting services we provide to clients are our bread and butter. We spend the majority of our time on client work.
However, the Brick Factory will always have an incubator culture. We will always launch our own tools and products. In addition to the financial reward a successful product offers, product development encourages experimentation and pushes us to improve our skills. Building our own products makes us better.
Since our product development resources are scarce, it was important that we cut our losses on Slurp 140 so we can focus our energies on the development of a new product we are really excited about. I look forward to sharing more details in the coming months.