As Andy Beal from Marketing Pilgrim discovered earlier this week, a once-promising news and social networking family of sites, owned by FutureUS, including ones dedicated to sports, Hollywood, politics, and much more, was snuffed out with little warning. In its wake, sites I often visited in the last three years, including BallHype, MacBlips and many others, are gone, and aren't coming back. The move was said to be a "reluctant" one, derived from "continuing shifts in consumption and sharing patterns", which made the sites stodgy dinosaurs in a Twitter and Facebook dominated landscape.
Ballhype sparked the genesis of the network way back in April of 2007, gaining visibility not just from me, but from TechCrunch and MG Siegler, before most folks in the Valley had heard of either of us. The promise was to make a Digg-like site focused on specific topics, and tap into real communities. For a while, it worked. Six months later, the Ballhype team went for the glitz of Hollywood and launched Showhype.
The success of these sites, and promise for even more subject-centric vehicles, led to Future US picking them up in July of 2008 for a rumored $3 million, which brought even more sites, including Beltway Blips for politics, spawning an avalanche of "Blips" clones, like MacBlips and GadgetBlips. The sites themselves were very cool, pulling headlines from around the Web by topic and letting you vote them up or down.
But this alone seemingly didn't help the long term success of the network. The engagement once a hallmark of Ballhype didn't make it to all the other properties, and it was well known that Future US scaled back its plans in 2009. Now, it seems the two year experiment has been closed.
The husband and wife team behind Ballhype, Showhype and the rest, Jason and Erin Gurney, ended up being good friends with my own family, and even provided our twins with some of our most-enjoyed toys, after their kids had outgrown them. It seems the social Web outgrew the Daily Radar and Blips sites, and we'll be watching the pair to see what they come up with next.