Nokia is switching Dopplr.com off this month (they said 1st November, but as I write, it’s still there…)
Marko asked me and Matt B to a pub (somewhere on Charlotte St I think, might have been The Fitzroy Tavern) about 8 years ago to talk about an idea he had.
The next January we took a weekend away in a cottage in Norfolk to prototype the first version.
We let a hundred or so friends try it, we took it to SxSW. We worked part-time on it, we got angel money. We quit our jobs and worked full-time on it for a year or two.
Our most active users loved it. We moved in with our friends at Moo, and inadvertently rebranded Old St as ‘Silicon Roundabout’.
We released new functionality every two months or so that we were enormously proud of.
We had ideas of how to make money, but getting to critical mass was hard. We were mobile (SMS!) friendly from the start, but too slow to build an iPhone app.
We suffered from being hard-to-define, falling between awesome logistical tools like Tripit, and pure social networks. We kept going. We even ‘pivoted’ a little, and created a ‘social atlas’ of recommendations built out of analyzing crowdsourced data, but perhaps too early before services like Foursquare showed how it really should be done.
I left to join Matt & Jack and build BERG, Dopplr got sold to Nokia. Dopplr kept going even though none of the team could work on it while they were at Nokia – testament to Matt, Tom and Boris’ code-chops.
And now it’s going away for good…
I learned a hell of a lot designing and building Dopplr. I still stand by a lot of the principles that we as a team tried to follow. Don’t build a website, build a part of the web. Be polite, playful and pertinent. Use copy as UI as well as possible. And perhaps most importantly in the last few weeks: always let the user leave – easily and gracefully, with all of their data.
It was great being your fellow traveller.
With two ‘l’s’ of course…