Dropbox snaps Snapjoy shut

Another acquired start-up gets unceremoniously closed. Isn't it about time that the users of "acquired" services got a little more information?

I’ve been getting altogether too many e-mails of this kind in recent months:

After two years of building Snapjoy, the time has come for us to shut down the service. It’s been a journey unlike anything we’d imagined, and we can’t thank you enough for your support and input along the way.

As of today, June 22nd, no more photos can be imported into Snapjoy and the Snapjoy iPhone app will no longer be available. Your photos will be available to download until July 24th from the website. After July 24th, all photos and data will be permanently deleted.

Snapjoy, a rather handy little service that pulled together you photos from various different online sources – and gave you a way to explore them, too, is shortly to be gone. It was acquired by Dropbox at the tail end of last year, and at the time, it seems like the service might hang-around. But no, it’s closing. And we have no clear word if the primary use of the service – that aggregation of photos from multiple online sources – will be replicated in Dropbox’s own photo service.

Finding interesting ways of presenting and exploring large photo libraries online is a challenge many people are working on, based on the idea that you upload your photos directly to that service. I use Everpix for this, for example. It was the cross-service combining that made Snapjoy interesting to me. If the Snapjoy team just end up replicating that sort of experience with Dropbox, leaving me to manually hack it all together with a tool like IFTTT, I’ll be profoundly disappointed.

As Ingrid Lunden of Techcrunch puts it:

It may still end up being the case that Snapjoy’s technology will live to see another day, and that Dropbox will indeed launch a photo service — it seems like an obvious move for the company as it moves to do more than just offer cloud storage, by providing different services on top of that infrastructure. However, today’s news means that it won’t be a continuous process for Snapjoy’s existing users, or indeed for Snapjoy the product.

It’s a real pity that the Dropbox and Snapjoy teams didn’t see fit to give the users they’re abandoning any sense of what might be coming next. A simple blogpost saying “We may be closing this…but there are some exciting new things coming for Dropbox’s photos…” would have been great. But there isn’t one. Just a bland “we’re going away” statement. A missed opportunity.

The corrosive effect of many recent acquihires is creating a sense of resignation in many people. Once a service gets bought – you can say goodbye to it. It’s taking the joy out of experimenting with the products of new startups, which is itself bleeds some of the excitement out of the digital economy. A bit more communication, a little more honesty and maybe that could be reversed?