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Bill Nguyen

Color Definitely Shutting Down Despite Previously Claiming They Totally Weren’t

Just when you thought it was safe to start trusting people again, Color's gone and officially announced that their photo-sharing app will be shuttered after December 31st, 2012. This is just the latest development in a series of odd twists and turns for the beleaguered startup. In October, rumors began circulating that the startup would be winding down, and then even more rumors emerged that Apple would be acquiring some or all of the company. At the time, Color said that they totally weren't shutting down. Looks like a lot can change in just over a month.

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Color Team Hard at Work Making App More Robust, Less Lonely

Ambitious/terrifying/insanely well-funded mobile social photo app Color has taken a beating in the tech press since its recent launch, though as we laid out in our post on the subject yesterday, we think the founders of the company and the investors who gave them $41 million probably know what they're doing, even if the app as initially unveiled doesn't turn out to be the endgame. Color's detractors do have a good point, however, when they note that the app currently has the same problem that many social apps experience upon launch: Without a robust network of existing users, new users can feel like the app is a ghost town and not want to use it again, which isn't helped by the emptiness of Color's current UI when there aren't enough nearby geotagged pictures to fill in the blanks. To this end, Color co-founder and CEO Bill Nguyen says that his team is already hard at work on an update to the app, perhaps the most important part of which will be that its 150-foot radius for photo-viewing, perhaps initially designated with too urban-centric a mindset, will become variable based on the population density wherever the user happens to be.

The first change is a pretty significant one; if you launch the app in the middle of nowhere, you’re essentially going to be locked out. This is designed to prevent you from opening the app and simply having nothing to do or see. The second update should prevent that scenario from occurring too often. Nguyen says the app will dynamically calculate the distance required for somebody to be considered “nearby.” Currently, the app searches for anybody within 150 feet of your location. That number will not be a constant any longer: “We’re going to start adjusting that range based on the density of cities,” he says. For example, cities like Tokyo and New York won’t require a lot of calibration, but Color may determine that your “dynamic network” has a radius of half a mile, especially if you live in a spread-out city or smaller town. The exact distance will be determined on-the-fly, like many of the app’s other core features.
These changes should hopefully take place as soon as next week. Meanwhile, even if you think the app still stinks, Henry Blodget points out that Color isn't necessarily doomed: With a "fat startup"-sized fund already amassed and such a brain trust assembled on staff, even if they scuttle this app and iterate to new ones, they still have a shot at capturing at least one of the various buzzwords among mobile/social/photo/coupon/gameification baked into their current ambitious plan. (Mashable via Techmeme)

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How Color, the Insanely Ambitious and Well-Funded Social Photo App, Could Win

Yes, the amount of money that has been raised by Color, the social, mobile photo app founded by Lala founder and serial entrepreneur Bill Nguyen and launched for free just last night for iPhone and Android, is absurd. It's hard to decide which part is crazier: That a single mobile application raised $41 million from the likes of Sequoia Capital, Bain Capital, and Silicon Valley Bank before it even launched, or that $25 million of that reportedly came just last week after one demonstration. "Nguyen showed Color to Sequoia megapartner Mike Moritz early last week. Within 24 hours Sequoia had committed $25 million and put partner Doug Leone on the board. Moritz, says Nguyen, “got the ‘wow’ moment of doing something together, not a day after like on Facebook", Forbes reports. Apart from the bona fides of Ngyuen and his six well-credentialed co-founders, who include BillShrink founder Peter Pham and former LinkedIn chief scientist DJ Patil, what do all of these smart investors see in a single-app company whose first overtures to the public have been weirdly restaurant-centric? FastCompany: "'When I go to a restaurant or public event or cafe, don't I want to know some of these people around me?" [Nguyen] says. 'We thought we could build something that would allow you to get to know everyone else that is not already your Facebook friend.'" TechCrunch: "Say you walk into a restaurant with twenty people in it. You sit down at a table with four friends, and start chatting. Then one of your friends pulls out their phone, fires up Color, and takes a snapshot of you and your buddies. That photo is now public to anyone within around 100 feet of the place it was taken. So if anyone else in the restaurant fires up Color, they’ll see the photograph listed in a stream alongside other photos that have recently been taken in the vicinity." Forbes again: "The potential business model for now (and it is sure to change) is charging stores and restaurants for the right to show their Color photos in people’s streams based on time and a user’s location." But those $41 million aren't really about breaking the ice between early-adopter strangers in restaurants, are they?

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