MaxFX shutting down, but…

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Beme is Shutting Down, But Our Work Is Just Starting

Why I’m proud we’re joining CNN

Today we announced that Beme has been acquired by CNN . Below is my personal perspective on our future.

At my age in 1993, I definitely should have been asleep at 11pm. The sound of my dad, always a night-owl, making chocolate cake must have woken me up. I walked into the living room and was transfixed by an odd scene on TV: A white, twelve-story building spewed smoke. Tanks hovered in the foreground. The word “LIVE” in the corner and the subdued voiceover made clear this event was of grave if uncertain significance. That night, I was handed a piece of warm cake and a lifelong obsession with global news.

I only hazily understood it at the time, but this was the 1993 constitutional crisis in a newly democratic Russia. Boris Yeltsin had ordered his country’s own parliament building shelled, ending a coup attempt. Instead of hearing about it the next day in the paper or nightly news as would have been the norm, I watched it live, in real-time, 8,000 miles away. I was watching CNN.

CNN changed the world at the end of the twentieth century, using the then-emerging technologies of cable television and satellite video feeds to add depth, breadth, and speed to our understanding of it.

In starting Beme, our goals were just as lofty: to reshape social media into the vehicle for candid, unfiltered perspectives that we always felt it should be. We wanted to create more empathy in the world by making the perspective of each of its inhabitants immediately and compellingly accessible through video.

Social media is supposed to connect across geographies and beliefs, to be the tool for building a less cruel and more creative world. It is this idealism for what technology can achieve that built Beme. Recent days have made it crushingly obvious that the social media we have built so far — at Beme or elsewhere — has not yet achieved this ideal.

Beme as a single product failed. Beme as a vision for the kind of technology and media that must be built is just getting started.

Like us, CNN believes that technology should be used to share necessary information, to promote human understanding, not to simply manipulate attention. Truth matters. Hearing voices and seeing perspectives far from your own matters. These principles, on which Beme was built, will form the core of our mission as a part of CNN.

So, the bad news: We are shutting down Beme on January 31.

By joining forces with CNN, we’re able to give our mission more than just one, startup-budgeted shot. We are going to hunker down and create something new. To do that with the full focus it deserves, we have to say goodbye to Beme.

I refuse to pile on the startup acquisition cliches and claim this was “an incredible journey.” Startups are difficult, lonely, tumultuous endeavors; ours was no exception. When Casey and I started Beme, we set the near-impossible goal of building a product for hundreds of millions of people, to change reality on a global scale. We brought together an extraordinary technology team who poured their lives into creating a product headed toward that goal, and I’’m beyond proud of what they’ve accomplished.

For many of our most passionate users, I know the news that Beme is shutting down will be a disappointment. To you who put incredible creative energy into Beme, who shared your lives on it every day, who made connections across the world: thank you a thousand times. We know what you’ve made with Beme matters. For the next two months, you’ll be able to download everything you’ve created, from videos to reactions, neatly archived.

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I also loved the product we built, but I am unsentimental about ending it. To me, the problems we hope to solve matter enormously more than one app. I know with time we’ll be able to prove that this was the right move, that what Casey, myself and our team can bring into the world by starting back at square one—bolstered by the resources of CNN—is worth it.

The scale of media and technological change in 2020 looks a lot like that of 1993. Technologies like machine learning, drones, and VR/AR are making the rapid transition from toys to drop-in SDKs. Cameras have transformed from being a rare novelty to an omnipresent piece of infrastructure. Live video creation is now in the hands of anyone with a smartphone.

More than ever, these technologies need to be seized to open up the world: to show more perspectives, to add more context. We must prevent social media from becoming a barren landscape of echoey trenches. CNN, doubly so with the addition of our team at Beme, will be passionately driving these technologies forward.

(This is not just bluster. The Beme team has already built a quick experiment we’re proud to say shows off in miniature our ambitions in this new life at CNN: Exit Poll Live was a small antidote to the filter bubbles of traditional social media, streaming the unfiltered views of real voters across the country on election day.)

Our team will retain a lot of independence. We’ll keep our own office and are looking to add engineering and creative talent immediately. We are not going to fade into working on a mobile app here, a microsite there. We will build with a wide mandate, combining Casey’s once-in-a-generation media prowess with our team’s killer product and engineering capabilities.

That kid sitting in front of CNN twenty years ago would be surprised to find his older self standing next to that logo. This technologist today is thrilled.

I hope you’ll follow along—this next chapter will be a fun one.

Want personal updates as this new adventure takes shape? You should sign up for my newsletter and keep an eye on Casey’s channel .

Roblox isn’t shutting down in 2020 despite this group’s protests

A ‘stop Roblox from shutting down’ in 2020 group has been created online to stop the popular game from closing.

Roblox shutting down in 2020 continues to be a hot topic thanks to its fanbase being worried that the rumours about it closing down are legitimate. And, despite the absurdity of this rumour, it has lately resulted in a group being made online in which over 7,000 members have joined.

The group mostly consists of intentional or otherwise fearmongering with people posting comments such as “R.I.P. Roblox” and other sorts of posts which tie its hypothetical death to the current pandemic. Needless to say, Roblox is not shutting down in 2020 be it in March or beyond.

In order to qualm all concerns, the Roblox official Twitter account responded to the incessant rumour back in January to pretty much stress that it’s all unfounded nonsense.

You can find their official response and where the rumour originated from by continuing to read update 1 and the original story.

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Update 1:

Despite the rumour having circulated over six months ago back in 2020, concerns about Roblox shutting down in 2020 refuse to go away. We’ve already provided an explanation as to why its servers are not being shut down, but now the developers have done the same with a definitive response on Twitter.

The official Roblox Twitter account has posted that the game is not “shutting down” and that fans shouldn’t pay attention to this rumour/hoax as it frequently occurs with just a few details always altered.

This means that you shouldn’t be worried and alarmed when the inevitable Roblox shutting down in 2021 rumours start to surface.

ROBLOX: Is it getting hacked?

Let’s set things straight: Roblox isn’t “shutting down.” The same hoax (with a few details changed) goes around every year or two.

Remember: don’t believe everything y’all read on the internet!

Original story:

Despite being a hugely popular online multiplayer game that was recently used for exposure by Stranger Things season 3, Roblox is apparently shutting down in March 2020. This news has naturally resulted in the game’s community flipping out over the possibility of no longer being able to enjoy the title.

But is the apparent doom of Roblox true or is it just a fake prank designed to create an overwhelming amount of hysteria?

MINECRAFT: Is it really shutting down in 2020?

Is Roblox really shutting down in 2020?

The news that Roblox is shutting down in 2020 has naturally resulted in a boatload of concerned tweets to the game’s official Twitter account.

Some users were merely content with asking whether the game is truly shutting down next year, meanwhile others poured their heart out saying they would cry if the title ceased to exist.

will roblox severs shut down 2020?

@Roblox Hey r u guys going to shut down Roblox in 2020 if u guys do im going to cry and im not joking Roblox was the game that i loved the game i played everyday please dont shut down the game plz

Fortunately for all the people worried about the impending doomsday where Thanos snaps Roblox out of existence, it’s highly unlikely to happen.

The article claiming Roblox will shut down in 2020 due to being overpopulated and no longer profitable was posted on the prank website React2424 where anyone can “prank their friends”.

Not only that, but the idea of Roblox no longer being profitable is an insane excuse when Business Insider reported back in May that the property is worth up to $2.5 billion.

In addition, the official Roblox Twitter account has said nothing about shutting down nor has it even bothered addressing the insane rumour.

So, if Roblox really is scheduled to shut down in March 2020, then you should also anticipate flying pigs and frogs pouring out of the clouds.

But, if the prank miraculously ended up becoming a reality, then you would definitely need to batten down the hatches and stay inside to avoid the ensuing crisis.

Have something to tell us about this article?

On Shutting Down

It makes sense that founders and investors spend so much time talking about things that go well. If we spent all of our time dwelling on the companies that failed, we wouldn’t have time for much else.

When people do talk about company failure, they often do so in a way meant to make them seem wise by breaking down all the lessons they’d learned through failing. I did something like this when we shut Tutorspree down. I think that was a valuable exercise, and maybe it even helped some people. Mostly, though, it was cathartic.

Founders lack a coherent way to think about when to shut down. 1 Founders do not always get to choose to shut down. 2 However, most of the time, it is the founder’s choice. It’s a personal decision. It’s a hard and painful decision. It’s an emotional, fraught decision. However, shutting down doesn’t have to be a blind decision.

The unintuitive thing about figuring out if you should shut down your company is that it isn’t the path of least resistance. The “easiest” thing to do for a struggling company is to fall into zombie mode – neither growing nor truly dead. This is easy because it doesn’t require an active decision, it just involves continuing to do the bare minimum to keep the company alive. This involves a series of seemingly small compromises that lead to stasis or failure.

Shutting down is hard because it means publicly admitting that you were wrong, unlucky, or incompetent. 3 Because of this difficulty, we’ve evolved a set of terms that often mean “shut down” without saying “shut down.” In no particular order these are: pivot, hard pivot, rebrand, strategic shift, change customer focus, and platform switch. 4

Stakeholders

Shutting down is hard because it generally means disappointing people who believed in you. Some of this disappointment is real, some of it is imagined. Founders who have raised money are usually most concerned about disappointing or upsetting their investors. Investors are often upset when a bet fails, generally in proportion to the amount of capital they’ve given you, and in the speed with which things went wrong since they invested. However, investors know that most bets are going to fail, and will usually get over their emotions. The thing that bothers investors more than shutting down is when founders either misrepresent the status of a business and suddenly shut down without warning, or slowly bleed out a business over years while taking up a lot of the investor’s time.

Founders often worry that shutting down will disappoint their customers. This is true, but companies that aren’t doing well generally see their products degrade, which also upsets customers. Unless your product provides a critical, lifesaving purpose, shutting down cleanly and with transparency is much preferred to a slow fade into obsolescence. 5

Founders should worry about the impact that shutting down has on their employees. The biggest burden a founder has is to meet payroll. The biggest emotional investment that founders make – especially early on – is convincing great people to take a leap of faith and accept an offer to work their butts off on a long shot. This dynamic is why transparency around the decision to shutdown and the timeline of it is so important.

The worst thing a founder can do to an employee is to tell them that everything is amazing, and then to one day tell them that she a) no longer has a job and b) that the company cannot pay her what was promised and c) that you’ve known all this for a long time but didn’t want to tell her because you were worried about her feelings. It is much better to make a clean decision to shut down in full view of of your employees with enough time and money left to help employees find new jobs and move on.

Framework for shutting down

The decision to actually shut down an idea can be made through answering the following questions: 6

  1. Do you have any ideas left to grow your startup?
  2. Can you drive that growth profitably?
  3. Do you want to work on the startup that results from that growth?
  4. Do you want to work with your co-founders on the startup that results from that growth?

The first two questions here are quantitative and driven by the experiments that founders are constantly running on their products and users. Unfortunately, while they are quantitative, there’s no deterministic way to know if you’ve actually tried everything in the right way. At some point, you have to make a call based on accumulated evidence. 7

The second two are qualitative and introduce the largest challenges around making a decision comes when the answers to these questions are mixed between yes and no. For instance – if you enjoy working with your co-founders on a business that produces positive cash flows but is not growing, you probably shouldn’t shut down. However, if you hate the people you’re working with on a business that is growing rapidly, you should either shut it down, or find a way to keep going without the team. These are personal decisions that no one else can make for you, but it is important to separate the different threads of the decision so that you can actually evaluate them as objectively as possible.

The other side

I was terrified to shut my company down, even though all the evidence said it was the right decision. 8 The thing that scared me most was the that I had no idea what would happen afterwards. However, I realized that I had exactly one life to live, and that staying in a bad situation of my own making out of fear was a dumb thing to do.

Having spoken with many founders who have gone through similar situations, I’ve found that most of them are incredibly depressed after shutting down their startups for a few months. Afterwards, things start to get better. This may be hard to believe but shutting down releases so much tension and clears away so many burdensome expectations that it allows for brand new creative ideas and approaches. It’s a necessary part of the startup cycle, and one that founders need to approach more openly and rigorously.

Notes
1. Throughout this essay, I use “shut down” interchangeably for ideas and companies. The two differ only slightly.↩
2. Running out of money unexpectedly, often as a result of a failed fundraise, can force a founder to shut down.↩
3. Incompetent seems harsh, but it would be strange to believe that you could be competent at all the new things required in building a company on the first or even tenth try.↩
4. I am sure this is a non-exhaustive list.↩
5. In this case, shutting down is still critical, but the decision should involve a long timeline, over communication, and a best effort to find alternatives.↩
6. I could also state this as the inverse. Deciding to work on a startup should come down to these questions all being answered with “yes.”↩
7. It’s important to make sure that you’ve actually tried a lot of things. Founders often quit far too early on an idea that needs more time.↩
8. The answers to questions 2,3, and 4, were all “no,” though Ryan, Josh, and I all like each other as humans.↩

Thanks to Sam Altman and Craig Cannon for your edits.

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