Yubl — a sad end to a wonderful journey

By now many of you would have heard about the demise of Yubl — the start­up where I have been work­ing the last 7 months — in the same week Karhoo also announced its clo­sure.


It took all of us by sur­prise, and hap­pened at a time when we have made real strides in the ®evo­lu­tion of our back­end archi­tec­ture. AWS was real­ly impressed with what we were doing with Ama­zon Lamb­da and in the midst of con­duct­ing a case study on our work, unfor­tu­nate­ly that’ll no longer see the light of day.

Our engage­ment num­bers were much bet­ter than oth­er sim­i­lar social net­works at the same age, and the VCs loved our num­bers, we just didn’t have enough of it to prove our long-term tra­jec­to­ry. Every VC we spoke to want­ed to see 12 months worth of data before they are will­ing to get involved, and in the end we sim­ply run out of time to raise the nec­es­sary fund­ing and our major share­hold­er Peter Simon put us into admin­is­tra­tion.


Look­ing back, there were lessons to be learnt from this unfor­tu­nate event:

  • per­haps we should have involved VCs at an ear­li­er stage
  • per­haps we should have seen the dan­ger signs when we were so reliant on one investor
  • per­haps Peter Simon wasn’t the right investor for us giv­en our busi­ness is so dif­fer­ent from retail and real estate
  • per­haps hav­ing so much invest­ment up front meant we missed the boot­strap men­tal­i­ty and spent lav­ish­ly on tools and niceties that we didn’t need

Sad­ly, those who have turned the com­pa­ny around in the last 10 months — our cur­rent CEO Gareth Evans and CTO Brett Johansen — weren’t involved in the pre­ced­ing 18 months when much of the dam­age had already been done. Under the pre­vi­ous regime mil­lions of invest­ment had been wast­ed on expen­sive con­trac­tors and 3rd par­ty ven­dors with no prod­uct to show for it.


Despite the unhap­py end, it has been an excit­ing 7 months for me per­son­al­ly, and I’m real­ly proud of the work my team accom­plished in such a short time. We have learnt many valu­able lessons and gained a deep under­stand­ing of the ben­e­fits and chal­lenges of the new Func­tion-as-a-Ser­vice (FAAS) par­a­digm. I guess one sil­ver lin­ing is that I now have plen­ty of time to blog and share those expe­ri­ences with you over the com­ing weeks as I look for my next move.

Through­out these dif­fi­cult last few days, our CEO Gareth Evans con­tin­ued to fight for that glim­mer of hope to keep the com­pa­ny going, and for the right of employ­ees to be paid the wages they’re owed (despite los­ing out the mil­lions he has invest­ed into the com­pa­ny him­self).

My biggest regret is that the won­der­ful serv­er team we assem­bled has been dis­band­ed. Every­one knows how dif­fi­cult it is to form an effec­tive team, you need the right chem­istry amongst the team mem­bers and we had that in abun­dance.


In typ­i­cal Yubl fash­ion, I’ll end with a cat pic­ture for all Yublers read­ing this.