Flock, the browser with built-in Web2.0rhea, is to be discontinued. The project burned through $30m of capital investment, a rather expensive way of acquiring 9 million non-paying users, and became an early emblem of slack-jawed social networking hype.
Flock received enormous coverage when it was unveiled in 2005, including this toe-curling extended profile on BBC TV. Paul Mason might have joined the social networking bubble two years after everybody else, but he made up for lost time with enthusiasm.
"I am not predicting Flock will wipe Microsoft Internet Explorer off the world's desktops, but the browser it is built on, Firefox, already has a 10% market share," he wrote.
In the end, and despite the popularity of social networks, hardly anyone saw any value in a social-networking browser. The indiscriminate attention paid to Flock also created its own backlash. One site, Go Flock Yourself, described its business plan as follows:
Raise a bunch of capital in order to hire old people for pennies on the dollar. Use this vast, untapped resource in order to 'develop' a browser that consists of an amalgamation of buzzwords (and other useless garbage) and code stolen from pre-existing projects. Shortly after the product comes out of 'stealth-mode', appear at many different conventions in order to hype it even further and then wait for a fool with a hundred million dollars to buy us out.
Chris Messina (pictured) quite wisely jumped ship a few months after launch. He now works for Google and as a marketing consultant.
Farmville developer Zynga, which has over 1,000 employees, acquired the Flock team in January, but will cease development on 26 April. It may continue as an open source project – if anybody's interested.®