Cue up “Mad World” and reflect on the folly of having more money than sense: Facebook confirmed today that it’s abandoning Lasso and Hobbi, two sad products you’ve probably never heard of.
What’s Lasso? A dating app for cowboys would be a good guess, but no, Lasso was Facebook’s misguided attempt to rip off Bytdance’s popular shortform video app TikTok – itself not so different from Twitter’s now-defunct shortform video app Vine. Even with Zuckerberg money at its disposal, Facebook’s version didn’t last a full two years.
Perhaps Mark will read this post and relaunch Lasso as a competitor to Farmers Only. Who can say what the grim future holds?
Lasso will be removed from app stores on 10th July, the day the company also plans to mercy-kill Hobbi, a Pinterest clone which, in full honesty, I had never heard of prior to about an hour ago. As my colleague Victoria Song pointed out, we actually covered its quiet launch by Facebook’s skunkworks NPE Team earlier this year. But that failed to create a lasting memory of the derivative, misguided product. “It’s hard to say whether Hobbi will stick around for the long haul,” Song wrote less than five months ago. It didn’t! (According to TechCrunch, the app has been downloaded fewer than 10,000 times.)
Reached for comment, Facebook said “We place multiple bets across our family of apps to test and learn how people want to express themselves. One of these tests was Lasso, our stand-alone short-form video app, which we have decided to shut down. We thank everyone who shared their creativity and feedback with us, which we’ll look to incorporate in our other video experiences.” In regard to Hobbi it stated that “the NPE team builds new consumer-focused apps and takes time to research, test and refine ideas in its search for new experiences and the most compelling feature, product, or service to provide them. Many of NPE’s products start small. We hope to build communities with our apps but we also don’t expect them to resonate with everyone. We expect to have to shut down apps when they’re not catching on, but we also hope to learn from these experiments so that we can build better, more interesting apps in the future.”
The extra resources freed up by the overdue ends of Hobbi and Lasso will surely guarantee the success of Reels, Facebook’s TikTok clone built inside Instagram (in much the same way Stories was the app’s answer to Snapchat). It’s good to see Facebook getting back to its core competencies: wasting money, stealing other peoples’ ideas, and being terrible – things for which there are apparently zero consequences.
If only Facebook’s interest in cloning resulted in more of a Jurassic Park-type scenario. Then we might see Mark Zuckerberg being devoured by one of his own creations while cowering inside a portaloo.
Featured image: Lasso (Google Play Store)