RIP Vine (2012-2016)

“RIP Vine…you had a great run” should be placed on Vine’s tombstone when it finally comes to rest in the coming months. Many people were shocked to hear that Vine’s operations would be be coming to an end in the near future. I especially was blindsided by the news, as Vine was an interesting form of social media to me. With it’s end so near, I figured it’d be a good time to take a deep dive into Vine and see what really went on there.

Background

Vine is a short form video sharing service where users can share six second long looping video clips. The service was founded in June 2012 by three co-founders,  Dom Hofmann, Rus Yusupov, and Colin Kroll. It was then acquired by Twitter in October 2012, just before its official launch, for around thirty million dollars. Vine allows for user’s videos to be constantly published through Vine’s social network and can be shared on other services such as Facebook and Twitter. Vine’s app can also be used to browse through videos posted by other users, along with multiple different ways to categorize them, such as by theme, popularity, and more. While Vine enjoys the support of Twitter, it competes with other short form video sharing platforms such as Instagram and Mobli. As of December 2015 Vine has 200 million active users, but on October 27, 2016, Twitter announced it would discontinue Vine, but keep existing Vines on the website for archival purposes.

The Rise of Vine

In 2013, Vine began allowing users to record clips with their phones’ front-facing cameras, and usage exploded. An ecosystem of young stars sprung up around the service, which evolved into their own kind of live action network. These characters were frequently called “vine stars”.  Their was first Zach King, whose eye popping magic tricks earned him 4 million followers and more than 1.4 billion views. Then came Amanda Cerny, whose physical comedy earned more than 2.2 billion views. Finally, Logan Paul whose Vines looped more than 4 billion times, which he parlayed into a series of acting roles, while earning $200,000 to create a single Vine for a brand.

In 2014, Vine was a video platform that was taking regular people and turning them into celebrities. “A Vine’s blink-quick transience, combined with its endless looping, simultaneously squeezes time and stretches it,” Tad Friend of the New Yorker wrote. The app generated countless memes, and grew increasingly self referential over time, so that a single 6 second clip might reference a dozen previous hit Vines. And yet in retrospect it seems clear that 2014 was when Vine peaked. Research firm 7Park Data says 3.64 percent of all Android users opened Vine in August 2014, but today that number has fallen to 0.66 percent. Twitter never officially said how many people used Vine, but once claimed it had an audience of 200 million people on the web.

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*So close yet so far :(

What Happened to Vine

So how did a company with seemingly unlimited growth potential and two hundred million users, come to rest in two short years. Former executives say that a major competitive challenged emerged in the form of Instagram, which introduced 15-second video clips in June 2013. With the emergence of stable competition, Vine failed to differentiate itself from its competitors. Instagram courted celebrities with longer videos, and eventually bumped it’s time limit to a more flexible 60 seconds. (Vines didn’t break the 6-second barrier until earlier this year, and its extended videos never caught on.) Instagram also began promoting celebrity accounts in its popular “explore” tab, bringing them attention that Vine found difficult to match. Marketers began shifting their money away from Vine, and stars followed.

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Management Problems

At the management level, Vine was rarely stable for long. Hofmann quit in 2014 to pursue a new startup. Kroll followed him out the door later that year. Twitter laid off Yusupov, who was Vine’s creative director, as part of last year’s mass layoffs.  Jason Toff took over Vine in 2014 and led it for two years before quitting this year to work on virtual reality projects at Google. Hannah Donovan became general manager in March after working at a series of music startups. Her lack of previous experience running a company led many to believe that it might be the beginning of the end.

Years of executive churn likely contributed to Vine’s failure to make money. For a while, brands were happy to pay Vine stars directly to make ads and share them to their millions of followers. But, after Snapchat and Instagram grew into hundreds of millions of daily users, marketers’ interest in Vine dropped significantly.

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The Final Nail in the Coffin

This year, Twitter executives were discussing ways to integrate Twitter’s various video offerings in their app. In June, the company held discussions about absorbing Vine into Twitter’s flagship app. To Vine employees, those discussions served as evidence that Twitter never valued Vine as a standalone property the way its audience did. But, no Vine integration ever materialized, and this summer top Vine executives began heading for the exits. Twitter explored selling the app, but it never found a buyer. The stars who grew famous on Vine continued posting their work on other platforms, and never came back to their home. With the continued exit of said vine stars, along with the top executives Vine was in an official downward spiral. Vine’s future looked bleak to begin with, and it was only a matter of time before the doors of Vine headquarters would be closed permanently, and that day is soon to come.

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THE END

“RIP Vine, may she rest in peace.” -Douglas Rossi, October 29, 2016.

 

 

10 comments

  1. polmankevin · ·

    Great post Doug! Vine definitely took the social media world by storm when it was first introduced. The presence of Vine Stars had a tremendous impact on the app’s popularity. These people became famous by posting entertaining content, and the most popular turned it into a career (great point referencing Logan Paul). However, I think vine got into trouble when these Vine celebrities gained social media presence on other networks. Logan Paul, Amanda Cerny, and others transitioned from sharing their content strictly on vine to sharing their content across Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Snapchat. Vine used to have a monopoly on the content that these personalities produced. But as their popularity increased so did the production value that they put into their posts, and so did their value as a social media influencer. Suddenly, fans didn’t need vine to watch their favorite star’s videos. Great job with this post, and RIP Vine.

  2. ikechukwu_28 · ·

    Great analysis on Vine. I personally am going to miss it greatly. It brought me many laughs this summer when I super bored at work just taring at a computer screen.

  3. Great post! I was a big vine fan back in 2014 after it started to gain a decent amount of following and popularity. I do have to admit though, it failed to keep my interest and I think that is largely due to the issues that you pointed at- mainly lack of innovation. It is interesting to see how all of these social media platforms move in similar directions, often poaching each other’s ideas in the race to outdo competitors. At that point it only becomes a question of who did it best, not necessarily who did it first? Vine was the OG, but without consistent internal disruption, it is not surprising that they failed to keep their fan base loyal.

  4. sandytanny · ·

    Awesome post! Though I never had a Vine myself, I always enjoyed going on the platform to watch the hilarious videos. So many memorable jokes and memes originate from Vine so it will be dearly missed. Something about those six seconds were short enough to keep our attention span but just long enough to get the joke or thought across. Like mentioned above though, it was only a matter of time before Vine was on the losing end as platforms like Instagram and Snapchat introduced video and stories, etc. However, I do think that is it awesome that Vine is keeping all of the existing Vines for archival purposes. It would be a shame to lose all of that content so I’m happy we’ll be able to look back on these Vines today and hopefully even years from now.

  5. daniellep2153 · ·

    Great Post! I was never a heavy Vine user myself, but I am obviously aware of numerous stars who are famous today because of this app. If I want to find these individuals now, all I have to do is simply go to their Instagram accounts. Once Instagram lengthened their video time, these influences decided to collectively move towards this new feature. Although Vine did struggle to update the app like their competition, I wonder if they could have observed other innovations on social media to keep their platform relevant.

  6. cmackeenbc · ·

    Kind of sad to see Vine go. I was a huge fan at the end of high school when it started to take off, and I do think there were some pretty talented people that used the app (and no, Logan Paul & co. are not those that I consider talented). One of my friends actually got pretty popular from using it, and wound up on America’s Funniest Home Videos. He has always raved about the community that he has found through the app and some of his closest friends have come from it. I remember the day that Instagram introduced videos, and people were predicting vine’s demise would be soon. I do think a bunch of vine stars have transferred their content to Instagram’s longer videos, Youtube, and Snapchat. It is interesting how the 6-second-clip rule was both limiting to users, but also allowed for people to get super creative in how they worked around it. It will be interesting to see how the vine community fully transfers away from the app onto other platforms. Nice post!

  7. fernaneq4 · ·

    I feel like the innovation of gifs also destroyed vine. Of course other social media like Facebook, instagram and snapchat incorporating videos destroyed them but to me, they still had the advantage of the unique creation of several quick videos as opposed to one long drawn out or having to use another external app to edit a video. I was a big fan of vine but I also hated the newsfeed it showed and it just made complete sense to me that it was going to die out. Nice article and a bit of a throwback!

  8. jagpalsingh03 · ·

    Great post! Your use of statistics and graphs really quantifies the rise and eventually fall of Vine. I think it’s crazy the amount of people that got popular through Vine. Logan Paul, Amanda Cerny, like you mentioned, plus King Bach, the Magcon people, etc. The list is incredibly long. It’s ironic that Vine was a catalyst for many social media stars, but the platform itself couldn’t capitalize on these celebrities and their fame. While Vine’s incompetence and lack of stability contributed to its demise internally, externally, as a user, Vine had a host of issues too. Personally I believe there is so much useless content on Vine. In the 36 minute video of Logan Paul, only about 1 minute worth of content is worth watching. For someone like me, the inability to really keep track of Vines I liked and the lack of a search feature that actually led to quality results meant that even if I loved a specific Vine, I might never see it again. This made me avoid the app and only open it if I saw a certain Vine go viral on Twitter. Also, I read an article that the creators of Vine actually imagined the app to be more of a casual platform, akin to what Snapchat is, where people uploaded anything and everything. Even though Vine became more of creative platform, I felt that its interface still lent itself to a less structured, “discover new things” kind of application. Had they adopted a more structured aesthetic and functionality (think YouTube), I would have been more inclined to use it. And I think mainstream celebrities (singers, athletes, actors) would have been more incentivized to use Vine properly rather than post awkward 6 second clips. While some of the funniest videos I have ever seen have come from Vine, there were just too many obstacles for Vine to really maintain success.

  9. olearycal · ·

    I remember vine being huge my senior year. It was just a fun thing to do and document experiences. But I can grow old and without the network and people still posting its appeal lessens. I can’t imagine why Twitter bought Vine for so much if they couldn’t think of a way to monetize it by integrating its technology into their own services.

  10. I’ve actually never used vine, but I have seen vine videos shared on other platforms. On the twitter side of things, I was shocked to hear that they paid as little as $30 million for a platform that would eventually have so many viewers. Ultimately, this acquisition didn’t work out, but in the grand scheme of things, $30 million was not a huge amount to lose on a acquiring a platform.

    What I do wonder about is how well these vine stars will be able to maintain their presence on other platforms. As you mentioned, vine stars have already begun uploading all of their previous content to new platforms. Will Logan Paul still be able to command $200,000 per 6 second video? And even more unlikely, will any new “6 second video stars” be able to emerge on new platforms or will only the incumbents remain?

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