This Is How All Startups Should Fail

The Cult of Silicon Valley worships failure—fail fast!—but only after it's been reversed and perverted. Actually calling it quits, admitting that you didn't succeed, and declaring your project dead, is rare. But 4chan founder Christopher Poole just conceded with perfect dignity and intelligence.

Poole's two post-4chan ventures, Canvas and DrawQuest, proved popular, but simply not popular enough. Instead of pivoting, or using his internet fame to pull in more futile investor bucks and continue a shambolic march to delayed death, Poole was truthful with himself, telling TechCrunch that "Ultimately we...just hadn't created enough value." Poole says he'll use the company's remaining money to keep its servers running and available for users until it's all gone.

He continues in a blog post of his own titled "Today my startup failed." Not in the fail fast and carry on, bro! sense, but what the word actually means:

No soft landing, no happy ending—we simply failed.

[...]

It may seem surprising that a seemingly successful product could fail, but it happens all the time. Although we arguably found product/market fit, we couldn't quite crack the business side of things.

Building any business is hard, but building a business with a single app offering and half of your runway is especially hard (we created DrawQuest after the failure of our first product, Canvas). 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.

Read the whole thing. This is a rare moment of honesty from a startup CEO. Let's all enjoy it.

Photo: Getty