The news broke on Friday and was confirmed today on their blog, that the Austin-based location service Gowalla would soon be no longer. They are being acquired by Facebook, which means they are closing up shop in January and some of their employees (most likely developers) will be moving to Palo Alto to live out the Zuckerberg dream.
This is sad on a number of levels. It is sad for Austin to lose the profile of a Silicon Valley-type startup and the talent that came with it. Many of their employees were quite active in the tech community, appearing at meetups and often giving some of the most engaging and interesting presentations.
It’s sad, because a few Texas State alum were employed there. I’m guessing support-type people may not be making the move to CA. But they did, for a time, have an amazing experience working for a company with smart and motivated people, gaining experience they really wouldn’t have gotten anywhere else.
The photo on the Gowalla blog and posted above also makes me sad. A great big thumbs up as the wallaby slowly disappears… I had grown pretty fond of the little guy.
For the founders, they move on from running their own show to finding their place in the Facebook mechanism. But, they, and everyone who worked there, should be proud of what they created. They developed a platform that people loved and used. It was beautiful, and they upped the bar on app design. So, if nothing else, this will be their legacy.
Could things have turned out differently for Gowalla? It’s easy to be a Monday morning QB, and there were probably opportunities they missed or could have more aggressively pursued. But they weren’t interested in being another coupon or deal app. They had bigger goals, telling stories and sharing experiences with the world. The repositioning a few months ago seems to have been too little, too late. But I always appreciated the purity of their mission, which CEO Josh Williams eloquently articulated any time I heard him speak.
And, so it goes. Facebook swallows another great company, only to put it to sleep. I enjoyed the heck out of Beluga, but it’s gone – found it quite useful during SXSW and Mass Comm Week at TXST. And the same will happen to Gowalla. Running a startup is hard, and making one into a successful entity is only achieved by a handful. Most of us will never set out to start our own business, so the people who do are of a special lot.
I have many friends at Gowalla, many people there whose work I admire and whose company I have enjoyed. I wish everyone the best as they embark on their next chapter.