Dispo, the unicorn that never was.

in #sociallast month

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200 million dollars was what Dispo was valued at in February 2021.

10 million was the reported amount of downloads at the time.
It was in the top 10 in the App Store in the US between March-June of 2021.

Today, while still around, it failed to meet expectations, having investors pull out, most users be inactive and doesn’t seem likely to hit the billion dollar valuation they expected to receive.

The reason in this case being less the product and more the founder, David Dobrik.

David Dobrik for those who don’t know, is an extremely popular YouTuber, with 18 million subscribers and 26 million on TikTok.

He was extremely connected with his vlog videos for creators in LA and was leveraging that over a period of two years to turn Dispo into an Instagram competitor.

It all began to fall apart though, when in 2021, his career was hit extremely hard after allegations that he covered up an assault in 2018.

He was demonetized by YouTube and lost millions in sponsor deals, while at the same time being on the hook for a 9 million dollar mansion he bought/renovated at the time.

He resigned from Dispo and it was reported made a deal to sell back most of his equity overtime. That equity now likely being worth way less over the 200 million valuation months prior.

Writing this, I don’t want to comment on the scandal, but on the product itself and if this was just some hype charged by an influencer that’d finish like Clubhouse or if this was something viable long term.

The idea

The name actually says it, where Dispo means “disposable”.

The concept being make a social media app, which recreates the charms of disposable cameras, catered to a generation which actually grew up after they were already obsolete.

Core way it worked.

Take pictures
Put them in albums
Can’t see them until 9 am, when they are published.

Logic was people on social media focus too much on photo quality and take so many photos of that image, it becomes inauthentic.

Dispo having people just take photos, not be able to see them and they appear hours later would somehow make it a more natural experience.

The secondary feature was giving people access to contribute to albums, take photos and friends can react ranking the photos, where the most positively reacted ones appearing at the top, similar to how a hashtag would work with tiktok/instagram.

Personal feeling on both ideas.

The core feature seems very gimmicky and not something with a huge demand.

The most commonly used feature on Instagram is is stories, with 500 million stories uploaded daily.

That’s over 5x the 95 million posts made on Instagram.

The reason being the market has shown people prefer posting content which is temporary and they have rapid control over.

Posts have almost a stigma to them, where they need to be something important to justify it.

Stories, due to them being temporary and not in the same feed, can just be a funny sign seen while walking or dinner.

Dispo focusing on having people wait to see photos, while bringing in some fun to see how they turn out, still create some fear from users they won’t come out as well and I don’t think they’d solve the vanity.

The secondary feature of albums is actually a good idea.

When Facebook was more popular with teenagers, albums were a huge feature for things such as proms, class trips, parties and more.

Today, Instagram doesn’t seem like it evolved into a good evolution to it, where it’s a pretty private experience.

If Instagram allowed users to create albums, post photos to them which don’t go to people’s main feeds and allow other people to add/react to them, it’d probably be pretty strong.

Just being able to make an album titled “North Shore High Prom” and students in a school can dump tons of photos in them seems valuable.

Also, for bigger things, a news agency could create something such as “Ukraine” and one album stores tens of thousands of photos, with different ways to compartmentalize.

Obviously similar to hashtags, but an extra layer of exclusivity and it gives one group control over it.

So would Dispo work?

Probably not.

The core feature was weak, name kind of mediocre and the value it brings, Instagram would have just copied if it got popular.

That being said though, it would have gotten way bigger if David Dobrik didn’t screw up.

Clubhouse in April of 2021 was valued at 4 billion.

10 million users at the time.

Clubhouse launched in April of 2020, with a 100 million dollar valuation and only 1,200 users.

Dispo had 200 million as the February 2021 valuation and 10 million reported users, with steady growth that happened for the sprint of that year.

It 100% could have continued bringing in high profile names and convinced VC’s to give it a billion dollar+ valuation.

Which this shows the good and bad of celebrity founders, as they get more popular, with people like Rihanna becoming billionaires off brands quickly.

They can grow products really fast, but the product is so tied to a face that if the face falls, it could be good and doesn’t.

This is a case, where Dispo likely could have had some time in the sun as a billion dollar company and flopped.