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After four years and one big strategy shift, Christopher “moot” Poole’s big venture after 4Chan, DrawQuest, is shuttering its doors. Poole honestly detailed the experience in a blog post on the matter, which discusses the failure that came despite a relatively healthy community that the “draw a day” app created:
I’ve come away with new found respect for those companies who excel at monetizing mobile applications. As we approached the end of our runway, it became clear to us that DrawQuest didn’t represent a venture-backed opportunity, and even with more time that was unlikely to change.
The blow comes after the company released its iPhone version late last year, which included new features and served as a complement to the app’s tablet version. Poole says in the post that DrawQuest is currently used by 25,000 people per day — a community he will continue to support by running the app’s servers until the company is completely drained of money. Right now, DrawQuest publishes one “challenge” per day that encourages users to draw within the confines of a particular prompt, and also allows community members to share their own challenges.
“It may seem surprising that a seemingly successful product could fail, but it happens all the time,” Pool said. “Although we arguably found product/market fit, we couldn’t quite crack the business side of things.”
The end of DrawQuest, which evolved from Poole’s other shuttered post-4Chan startup Canvas, is certainly a bummer for Poole. But his honesty is a rarity in the bullish, hyped-up startup world that throws money at half-formed ideas more often than it should. He also does a great job detailing his debt, both financial and emotional, to his group of investors: Union Square Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz, Lerer Ventures, SV Angel, Founder Collective, Chris Dixon, and Joshua Schachter.
It’s a lesson that all startups should heed. I had the privilege of discussing DrawQuest with Poole, and I still believe it’s a thoughtful idea that produced a lively, interesting community. But at times, even a good idea doesn’t catch fire the way it should, and Poole’s graceful bow from the startup world (for now) should be a model for how all CEOs should behave about their product. My condolences, Chris.