Kevin Rose’s Failed Microblogging Platform: Where Pownce went Wrong


When Pownce first launched in the summer of 2007, I thought it would revolutionize how I communicated and shared stuff with my friends! By the way Kevin Rose had hyped it, you could share any type of file (music, video, .zip archive), share notes, share photos, really anything you wanted to with your friends! This was an application that was desperately needed on the web, and to this day I still claim there needs to be something to fill the void.

There were, however, many problems with Pownce which lead to it’s downfall. I can’t knock the team at all – they really tried their best to launch the site and create a popular social networking and communication space. But in the real world, website’s of that magnitude cost real-world money… something Pownce wasn’t making enough of.

At Least Pownce Ran a Nice Design

I should start off with the positives, Pownce wasn’t a horrible idea or website at all. The design was fantastic, I’m a huge fan to this day of Pownce’s homepage and user profile designs. The logo and icons were creative, sharing and storing files was a breeze and sifting through friends was a snap!

In fact I really can’t think of many problems with the app, from my standpoint. I never really got very far into using the application to see any downfalls – but I will say the one pain was seeing exclusive membership signups on pages throughout the site.

If it’s one thing that really ticks me off, it’s when website’s charge for services that really don’t need to charge. Paying monthly for your Pownce profile is sad, you can do the same stuff with a free account just limited (which overall hurts the userbase). Why KRose and Daniel Burka didn’t just release the site as free to all, I’ll never know. This one caveat was, in my opinion, the largest issue with Pownce.

I’ll also add another large issue was the over-hyped media. Although Pownce was online by the summer of 2007, you had to send in your e-mail and get a private beta request to even gain an account! It took a good 5-6 months before the site was even open for public registration, by that time having been covered by such popular blogs as Wired and Business Week.

Running a Web App Costs Money – and Money isn’t Free!

The biggest problem I can see where the development team of Pownce ran into issues was with making ends meet on the site. Charging for Pro accounts, running ads on almost every page and still they weren’t able to keep the site up long.

Leah Culver, Pownce’s original founder ended up writing about the sale and closing of Pownce. On December 1st of 2008 Leah posted an interesting post titled Goodbye Pownce, Hello Six Apart. This stated how the development team were closing down Pownce and joining with Six Apart as developers and designers.

As for future plans of Pownce, I can’t really say. It seems as though there were big plans to bring the site back to life come 2009, but that doesn’t seem very likely. I don’t really expect to see Pownce make an encore – it had it’s run for whatever short life it had and it was a neat app while it lasted, but there’s bigger game out there.

About the author

Inside The Webb

Inside the Webb is a blog based on new and popular web 2.0 sites, and all things social media. Here at the site, we try to collect all of the information we can on some of the most intriguing websites out there. We often publish many interviews throughout the months, all exclusive interviews with founders and developers of new social web apps.

About Author

Ian Carnaghan

I am a software developer and online educator who likes to keep up with all the latest in technology. I also manage cloud infrastructure, continuous monitoring, DevOps processes, security, and continuous integration and deployment.

Follow Me