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Thoughts on Secret

Another digital supernova has faded.  I found the news this week about the Secret App folding to be a perfect moment to reflect on some of the trends I'm feeling, seeing and hearing about.  I'm referring to the often ridiculously high expectations some consumer-facing brands have at launch, and how their marketing and operations plans are, in turn, a bit short-sighted and not built to sustain post launch.  

I remember my first Secret encounter:  SXSW 2014, and me, probably queued up at some food truck.  I was using spare moments (when I was not being assaulted with some Task Rabbit trying to give me swag) observing which Supernovas-in-waiting were working SXSWi Nation to get noticed, catch fire and launch into the collective consciousness of the Digerati.  Who would become this year's FourSquare?  Or, more likely, which (choose one) App/Wearable/LiveStream/Business/SaaS/SocialPlatform would become this year's Color?  


Secret was last year's Meerkat.  I remember downloading it on a Friday night, and being informed that "3 people in my network" were 'members.  That number upped to 20 of my pals (all anonymous, but I could guess pretty much who my fellow early-adopters were) by Sunday and kept exploding.  I found it somewhat entertaining, dishy, voyeuristic and a huge time-waster.  I'm pretty sure I was representative of much of the Secret universe in that I quickly lost interest in the content, which was heavy on inside-baseball Silicon Valley, porn, misogyny and Uber-driver-Google-bus horror stories.  It was the equivalent of a piece of sour hard candy w/artificial sweetener -- it smacked you in the face but went fast and left me with an unpleasant aftertaste.  

I'm working with a few under-wraps brands, and pleased that they're on board with more slow-growth, substantive strategies.  The trick is:  how to balance the urgent need to speed to market when the competition's fierce and the need to offer a valuable product?  I'm baffled why more innovative (and well-funded) start-ups don't build in some scenario-planning that goes beyond 18 months post-launch.  

The current formula seems to be: launch-->tweak (or pivot)-->repeat.  And recognize when it's time to hit that reset (or 'game over') button.  

I think Marc Andreesen may have summed it up nicely today on Twitter about the 'nobility' of shutting down.

At least Secret made a pre-emptive strike.