Archive for October, 2013

Qype, a Lullaby


Today, Qype, Europe’s largest and most successful local review website, will be shut down. We saw this coming; Qype was bought by its biggest rival from across the Atlantic, Yelp, which had far more money than Qype but were having trouble breaking into the European market. Qype’s database of places, reviews and users is being migrated over to Yelp, and today, October 30th the light at Qype will be switched off.

The tech world is full of such takeover stories, especially European companies being bought by their larger North American rivals. For many company heads and investors, this is an exit strategy which is aimed towards from day one. Being sentimental about Qype’s demise makes little sense; Qype is, after all, a product which can be bought or sold. But for me, the night sky of the tech world will be one star less bright on October 30th.

It’s a story not about what Qype was, but what Qype could have been.

I joined Qype in August of 2007 as their first full-time designer. We were a small bunch: about 20 people in a small office in the heart of Hamburg’s posh shopping district. It was my first full-time job after moving to Germany and I was thrilled to go back to doing what I did best. My first task was to redesign the website completely, which seemed like a daunting task. The two year-old website had already seen a major redesign, and it was already looking outdated. After months of design and testing, we launched the new design in Mid-2008. Most users took the learning curve in stride. It was a great time to be a part of Qype. The development team was rapidly expanding, product was in focus and we were doing great work. We were working Agile, learning about User Behavior, launching features with beer and pizza and felt like we had a stake in a product we were developing with friends.
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