Conde Nast is, sadly, shutting down Flip.com today. Back in 2006, some of my former favorite colleagues worked with Conde Nast to develop and launch Flip.com, a social networking site targeting the YM and Teen Vogue set.
I always loved Flip. The strategy behind it was ahead of its time. The focus was on allowing teen girls to create their own "flip books" which were collections of poems, artwork, and other creations that they could share, rate and comment on.
In addition to online scrapbooking, the site delivered three content areas and also delivered an innovative approach to advertising: users could actually choose what advertisers they wanted to see on their pages. Flip eventually became a Facebook app as well.
But with financial strains on traditional media, the site's 300,000 users apparently did not justify the expense. Conde Nast also shut down the forums on YM.com and are directing users to TeenVogue.com.
What I don't understand is why Conde Nast didn't choose to keep Flip instead TeenVogue.com or didn't integrate the feature set, at the very least. I mean, 300,00 users is, well, 300,000 users. From what I've read and heard, Conde Nast was not satisfied with the growth. No, this was not MySpace or Facebook, but for a niche social networking site, 300,000 users is substantial.
It truly is unfortunate. Not only did a great site die today, but Conde Nast failed to recognize the significance of this audience because they were comparing it to print. But Flip.com is web native, it's the long tail. It's not about subscribers, it's about engaged users--300,000 of them. They failed to see that, and now they are back where they started, with a print magazine, online.