My former agency is having an awesome, honest and open conversation on their blog about what to do with Image Spark, a social tool for creative inspiration that I helped create over 4 years ago.
The idea behind Image Spark was beautifully simple: Create a place where people can share, gather and organise inspiring images on any topic from automobiles to weddings. Obviously since that time there have been some formidable competitors that have entered the space and done a great job.
However, with Teehan+Lax focused on their primary goal as a service firm defining great digital experiences, Image Spark has become what Jon Lax appropriately refers to as the "zombie" in their office (still living, but a liability). Discussing the need to decide what to do with Image Spark, he describes how "disruptive" businesses can't thrive inside "incumbent" ones.
In our example, the incumbent business, Teehan+Lax, which gets its revenue from charging clients, was too powerful for Image Spark. As soon as Image Spark launched, the people who worked on it (the resources) went right back on to the work that paid the bills. In the spring, Greg [Washington] (a driving force behind Image Spark) left for an opportunity on the west coast. Image Spark became the Christmas toy that sat neglected in the corner.
Personally, I won't be too sad to see it go because Image Spark was always at its heart a big experiment for a small group of agency designers and technologists taking their first shot creating a product in our limited free time. (The first version of Image Spark which represents about 97% of the current functionality was conceptualized, created and launched in a matter of 3 months.) Whatever the verdict is, the experience of building a successful product and watching a community form and foster around it has been awesome and something I encourage all designers to be involved with in their career.