What can we learn from Pownce.com shutting down?

By StrangeWork.com: News broke today that the micro-blogging service Pownce.com will be closing down on December 15th.

Pownce.com LogoI first wrote about Pownce back in July of 2007 when they launched in private beta. I even wrote some fun scripts that interact with the Pownce API, but in the end Pownce lost the fight and is closing down.

So what can we learn from the failure of Pownce?

Stay lean – Pownce was a pretty lean company for the most part, but how lean were they really? CrunchBase lists Pownce as having 6 employees, which isn’t bad considering some startups out there. Overall I think Pownce was very lean which is a plus.

Be unique – Sure Pownce had some unique features (meetings, images, events), but overall they were a juiced up Twitter. Even in 2007 Twitter dominated the micro-blogging space, so what did Pownce really offer over Twitter? It sure wasn’t the member base size, and the features weren’t unique enough to pull users away from Twitter.

Monetize – I would love to see the stats on the number of Pownce premium accounts vs. bandwidth costs. Did the premium accounts cover the bandwidth/servers costs? My guess is not since they are shutting down, but it would be interesting to see. Launching a new website service is easy, but making money from that site is not. Have a plan on how to make money to offset the costs of hosting/maintenance/support/service. You don’t need to be profitable right away, but you can only lose money for so long before going belly up.

Pownce had a head start from the launch with a name like Kevin Rose behind it, so it is surprising to see it close down so shortly after launching. With every great failure there is a great lesson to be learned. It’s always nicer learning that lesson from someone else rather than ourselves.