Facebook Shuts Down Its Experimental Creative Labs

8 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Facebook Axes Experimental Creative Labs, Pulls Apps.

Slingshot was Facebook’s SnapChat competitor, which let users share ephemeral photos and videos, while Rooms was a group-messaging service that brought a modern spin to chat rooms popular in the early days of the Internet.As reported by CNET, the company has removed the public web page dedicated to Creative Labs, and it has removed three of its standalone apps from the Apple App Store: Slingshot, an ephemeral messaging service that mimicked the popular Snapchat app; Riff, a group video-making app similar to a Snapchat tool called Our Story; and Rooms, a way of chatting semi-anonymously that seemed to answer apps like Whisper, Secret, and YikYak.

The company pulled several of the apps built by the labs group from the App Store, including Slingshot, a Snapchat clone; Riff, a video sharing app; and Rooms, an anonymous group messaging app.SAN FRANCISCO — Facebook has shut down Creative Labs, the initiative to nurture innovation inside the company and build more standalone services to add to its growing “family” of apps. Riff allowed users to create and share short videos based on a theme (Facebook) Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg may be talking up his company’s innovation drive around the world but back home in California, the social media giant has quietly pulled the plug on Creative Labs –- an initiative that allowed employees to attend binge-coding sessions to come out with experimental apps. “Facebook is famous for its mantra ‘Move fast and break things’. Facebook will continue to develop standalone apps, but without the Creative Labs banner. “We’re continuing to embrace the spirit of creative risk-taking by continuing to allow some smaller development teams within the company to experiment with new ideas for standalone apps,” Facebook said. The company decided some of these initiatives had, in fact, failed to gain traction and is shutting them down,” a Facebook spokesperson said.The shutdown of Creative Labs is nothing new for the Menlo Park-based company that regularly scraps projects with little output.

As Facebook product manager Michael Reckhow told us after Creative Labs first launched early last year, this was wasn’t a physical lab or even a team of people. TechCrunch hailed the decision as a way for “a 6,000-person giant to move fast like a startup.” By then, Facebook had more than a billion users and hundreds of thousands of advertisers relying on its product every day. It let users send messages that eventually self-destructed, but in a bid to distinguish itself from Snapchat, recipients could not view the sender’s content until they sent a message in return. More from WSJ.D: And make sure to visit WSJ.D for all of our news, personal tech coverage, analysis and more, and add our XML feed to your favorite reader.

Creative Labs was tasked with creating unique standalone apps that experimented with Facebook’s social capabilities but also lived beyond the network. And it directly inspired a core Facebook service called Instant Articles, which allows publishers to publish news articles straight to Facebook in a format that will load unusually quickly in users’ News Feeds.

The strong initiative drive is part of the company strategy Zuckerberg hinted during his visit to India, saying Facebook was planning to integrate various innovations in the social network, including virtual reality. People who have downloaded Slingshot and Riff will still be able to use them. “Since their launches, we’ve incorporated elements of Slingshot, Riff and Rooms into the Facebook for iOS and Android apps. Paper redesigned the News Feed in magazine-style, Mentions is used by famous folks to manage their Facebook followings, and Moments is a private photo-sharing app that relies on Facebook’s social graph to identify friends. Why this matters: Although Facebook’s size and reach may give the company a huge advantage when it comes to launching (or borrowing) social features, that doesn’t mean that Facebook can create equally engaging standalone apps all the time.

Facebook FB -0.54% has been focusing on its four biggest, most successful apps with hundreds of millions of users: Instagram, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and its namesake. Last week, Facebook introduced live video streaming as an added feature to its app, as opposed to launching a standalone live-streaming app to compete against Periscope and Meerkat. But Facebook’s most exciting experiments look less like its current offerings and more like science fiction: It has made big bets around drones, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality.

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