Tough but necessary change for Wildcard

Posted on March 16, 2016. Filed under: Uncategorized |

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 jordan.cooper@gmail.com.

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6 Responses to “Tough but necessary change for Wildcard”

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Can you give us details on 350k/month burn rate? If you had to do it over, could you have had a slower burn?

Felt like you did too much planning and too little testing?

i’m not sure how you calculated that, but our burn has never been higher than $275K…i used pretty round numbers in this post…

I see 3 million and then 7 million follow after 1 year. I assume the burn for the first six months was fairly low . That leaves 9 million over 26 months, which presumably makes a peak burn at close to 350K very likely.

nope

what i love about this post is that it tells an honest story and reflects the depth of leadership and strategic thinking. more startups – especially new ones – would succeed over the long haul if they were honest with themselves, their investors, and their customers about forcing functions. wishing your team the best in the coming year. looking forward to seeing what you all come up with next. -chhristine

So sad. After looking through a lot of news apps, Wildcard was the only credible game in town. Shame that the user base didn’t recognize this. I might actually go without than find a replacement—because I don’t want some second-rate app on my phone.


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    About

    I’m a NYC based investor and entrepreneur. I think there is one metric that can be used to measure the value of a human life and that’s impact. How did you change things? How many people did you touch? How different is the world because you lived in it and how positive was the change that you affected? (p.s. i don’t use spell check…deal with it) You can email me at Jordan.Cooper@gmail.com

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