Robert Kosara asked former Swivel co-founders Brian Mulloy and Dmitry Dimov about their thoughts on why Swivel shut down recently. Only the blog remains. In case you're unfamiliar, Swivel was a service that let people upload data and share basic charts and graphs.
Mulloy and Dimov left Swivel a while back and are currently working on different startups, so it was actually news to them too. But in the end it seems it came down to context for the data.
Will there be a YouTube for data that's the same kind of success as the current YouTube?
No. I think it's a question of context. 99% of what made Hans Rosling's health data so interesting was Professor Rosling himself. He would swallow a sword that was on fire as part of his presentation. I think that that context needs to be there for people to engage with the data. On YouTube, you don't need context, you just play the video and then you watch the cat jump around and that's all you need.
We saw the same sentiment with the shut down of Verifiable.
Plus there simply wasn't enough interest to justify the expenses, with only single-digit paying customers.
Read the full back and forth here. It's really interesting, especially if you're developing or thinking about developing a data-based application. Some good comments in there too, including one from Joe Hellerstein, a technical adviser to Swivel.