As I'm sure you've noticed not much has been happening with the site recently. I'm very sorry to report that this is because NewsLabs is ending.
As you know, founder Paul Biggar was on his honeymoon for most of May [company launched in April] so I was taking charge of direction. During this time I spoke to many of you on the phone and emailed the group to let you know that we were going through a difficult post-launch period where we were struggling to reach an audience for your work. It seemed like we had the right parts (your writing and our technology) but maybe we needed to be more directed (by getting the editors involved) to move out of the hole we were in.
This is from their TechCrunch write up in April, when they operated as NewsTilt.
The site is currently accepting applications from journalists who want to start a news site on NewsTilt, and is being extremely selective with which journalists are accepted NewsTilt has assembled a seasoned editorial team in place to oversee the operation, headed by Jon Margolis, former chief National Political Correspondent for the Chicago Tribune.
So far, the startup has only selected 30 professional journalists out of 150 who’ve applied, and each applicant goes through a rigorous screening to ensure that any content they create is both well-written and has editorial quality. The accepted journalists will write from all over the world, including the U.S., China, and Turkey, and will be reporting on a number of niche topics including technology, news in Iran, business travel and more.
To recap: In December 2009, NewsLabs is accepted into Y-Combinator. In April 2010, NewsLabs launches to the public. In May 2010, the Founder of NewsLabs goes on honeymoon for a month. In mid-June 2010, the Founder of NewsLabs quits. In late-June 2010, NewsLabs goes out of business.
I guess my first question is this: How the hell did no one forsee this problem??? Honeymoons require planning, especially the month-long variety. And who the hell plans a honeymoon right after they launch a startup? How did anyone think this is OK? It just seems completely irresponsible and a betrayal of his co-founder(s), employees and investors.
Now, I understand that people start companies all the time that aren't that serious about their missions, but these guys came out of YC. He took a slot that could have gone to an actual team of real founders who actually give a shit. To just throw an opportunity like that away out of pure laziness just makes me sick.
And not only that, they signed other people up to work for them! WTF?? I pray they didn't get investors.
It's one thing to try and fail. I'm cool with that. But to have others counting on you and not even try, well, that's just shameful. And it makes the rest of us––we who are working 16 hour days/7 days a week living in a co-founder's dining room, scraping to turn a vision into a reality––look bad too. It's like when startups scam their customers and employees; it's a PR blemish for the whole category.
Sometimes when you make promises, you have a duty––not to keep them, but to try.