Learning from Kiko’s failure

Just a short post to note something that I think every current or prospective Web 2.0 startup should probably read — or actually, several things, all of which are related to the demise of Kiko, an AJAX-driven online calendar that got its start in Paul Graham’s YCombinator summer camp for geeks. Kiko has effectively shut down and has put itself up for sale on eBay. The first thing worth reading is a post at the blog On Startups, which looks for lessons in the failure of the well-regarded calendar app.

The post’s lessons are not exactly rocket surgery, so to speak, but they are worth reading nevertheless — including “Google is the new Microsoft” and “Have a plan B.” Equally interesting and worthwhile, ironically (since he is critical of the On Startups post), is a post by one of the members of the Kiko design team, who posted a comment to the On Startup blog with a link to his own version of the company’s demise. Richard White’s lessons go a little farther than the simplistic “Don’t take on Google” — he notes that the day Google’s calendar launched was actually one of the highest traffic days for Kiko, because all the stories mentioned it.

Among other things, Richard (whose post has a comment from Narendra Rocherolle of competitor 30boxes) notes that Kiko lost its focus at a crucial time and thus its launch was delayed — allowing 30boxes and Google to grab more of the spotlight — and that the team tried to make the app a little too feature-rich. Kiko co-founder Justin Tan also has a post-mortem in which he mentions staying focused, and argues that an online calendar is a worthwhile thing to have and not necessarily doomed to failure (Don Dodge disagrees). All in all, definitely worth reading.


Paul Graham has his own thoughts on Kiko’s demise, which boil down to “don’t fight Google”, but David at Signal vs. Noise disagrees, and Scott Karp of Publishing 2.0 says that if Google is the next Microsoft then that’s actually a good thing. Umair at Bubblegeneration says not to cry for Kiko.


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