Tough but necessary change for Wildcard
Today is a rough day. After 8 months of building and living Wildcard 2.0 we’ve made the difficult decision to stop supporting the Wildcard 2.0 app. Wildcard has been through a lot of twists and turns over the past 3 years. We initially set out to replace the browser on your phone with a native card based browser. The first year of our company was about building out awesome technical infrastructure and answering questions around what a card was, both technically and from a design standpoint. When we released our first consumer facing product (Wildcard 1.0) it was really a proof of concept of what the web could look like in this new format where you didn’t have to wait for webpages to load. We were really excited about our future. People who cared about design and technology were really excited, and investors were really excited.
We raised our first $3 Million largely on the background of our founding team. We had successfully built and sold Hyperpublic to Groupon, and folks were more than happy to back our team to take on this wildly ambitious goal of replacing the browser on your phone. We raised our $7M Series A round 11 months later on the technical progress we had made toward this goal, and a pretty incredible early demo of the Wildcard 1.0 app. This all happened in year 1.
The second year of Wildcard was about taking this technology to market. Our 1.0 was a great proof of concept, but we had to focus the product on a use case more narrow than the “catch all” of the browser. We didn’t yet support everything a browser could do, so we needed to tighten our experience to something immediately usable to consumers. We zeroed in on news and media, put our heads down, and spent 7 months building Wildcard 2.0.
When we released it, it was the #1 New App of the week in the Appstore. That was helpful, and good for about 90K installs. 3-4 months later, it was named one of Apple’s Best Apps of 2015…good for another 40K-50K installs. With some press hits in between, and all the “influencer word of mouth” you could hope for, all in we’ve amassed a few hundred thousand installs…
Retention is a challenge…and the average app loses 90% of their users in the first 30 days..we did better than average with 2.0, but despite tons of tweaks and awesome product improvements…our growth and retention numbers are simply not good enough for a consumer facing app to be a viable business.
At current burn, Wildcard has a little more than a year of capital in the bank. You don’t have to be a genius to look at our growth curve, look at distribution dynamics in the appstore, and look at the climate that we are going into over the next 12 months to know that we need to make a change, and we need to do it now.
We could continue to improve the app over the next year of runway, but without a monumental home run iteration, my instinct is that there would be virtually no market for our next round of funding and no path to profitability with the numbers we are seeing. This moment requires a more fundamental change in trajectory…something that is going to be painful, but doable with our current capital reserves, and not doable if we delay or don’t act decisively now. We are going to shut down the app and take the company in a new direction. I can’t say much more about what we are going to build next, except that we will put everything we’ve got into it.
This is a really hard day. We are taking the team down in size. A lot of wonderful people who worked their asses off on the Wildcard app are going to need to find new jobs…
I feel terrible that we weren’t able to realize the Wildcard vision as we set it on day 1. We knew it was a homerun swing when we stepped up to the plate…and unfortunately we sort of hit a deep foul ball. Time to regroup, dig in, and get to something special together.
If you have any questions about this step in our company, or if you are curious about our next chapter, i’m firstname.lastname@example.org.