Link: Hipstamatic – Moving Forward

Yesterday, as Instagram was announcing its (buggy and overhyped) 3.0 update, the internets were ablaze with other news about Hipstamatic — and not necessarily in a good way. In short, yesterday, The Next Web posted a story, “Hipsta-dramatic: Hipstamatic lays off all but core employees, including designers and engineers.”

Today, Lucas Buick, CEO and Co-Founder of Hipstamatic, has responded on the Hipstamatic blog. Read his post in its entirety after the jump along with my thoughts on this situation.

The bottom line? Don’t panic. I don’t think Hipstamatic is going anywhere.

Here’s Lucas Buick’s response:

Letting people go is never an easy decision. Yesterday’s reduction in staff was the result of endless discussion and debate about what we want our company to look like in the future. It was in no way a reflection of the work ethic or talent of those no longer with us.

Over the last year we simply lost our focus. Art and creativity were no longer the center of what we did. Hipstamatic was founded as a lifestyle and culture brand that happened to make software. We aren’t a typical software company, and our inability to scale and ship became clear.

Some might view it as a setback for the company, however, it likely wasn’t. We’ve shipped very little in the past 9 months, but by streamlining our organizational structure, we are planning to ship more products and updates in the next few months as we reset and rebuild our team.

Our biggest product launch this year has been an iPad magazine called Snap, which has been extremely well received and already has over 100,000 subscribers. We are excited to ship the September issue in the coming weeks.

Moving forward, Hipstamatic will also continue to make awesome photo apps for mobile devices. We have high expectations for the type of company we want to build.  Today we will be back to work making products that inspire people to take their creativity to the next level.

Productivity will not be stopping anytime soon around here. We are all excited to focus on what we are passionate about and what made us successful in the first place.

Lucas Allen Buick
CEO & Co-Founder, Hipstamatic

(reposted from Behind the Scenes Of Hipstaland blog)


I have no inside information on this, so just take this as the hunches that they are.

I’m not too worried about Hipstamatic. When I first met Lucas and Ryan in their Chicago office a couple of years ago, there were about 6 total employees working with Synthetic. It was a young, lean and agile company then. In February 2010, Hipstamatic were cranking out cool updates at a pretty good rate. I think this is simply an adjustment to streamline operations, get back to “fighting weight” and trim some of the excess they’ve gathered since then.

I think the publicity is more of a case of sensationalizing this story where there isn’t really much of one. Headline grabbing, as they say. Granted, layoffs suck, but reading the TechCrunch article can lead you to believe that Ryan Dorshurst is shopping at Home Depot for chains and a padlock right this minute to bolt the doors. I don’t think so.

I think Hipstamatic Disposable app was requiring far more financial, creative and engineering resources than the the monetary return justified. I think it was a good idea to pull the plug on the app. I’d have been more worried about the company if they hadn’t cut their losses there.

This to me looks more like a case of “Let’s pounce on Hipstamatic”, who used to be the darling of tech and social media. It’s the same treatment Apple gets when they appear to misstep or when the price of the stock falls more than a dollar a share. Hipstamatic used to be synonymous with iPhone photography to many. It was an awesome gateway app. I think Instagram wears that mantle now and has now become synonymous with iPhone photography to outsiders. Sad, really. It’s an inferior app visually. But it’s free.

Hipstamatic Company is projected to earn $22 million dollars this year — a buck or two at a time from Hipstafiends like you and me. That’s double what they earned last year. They are one of the App Store’s biggest, highest profile success stories. Hipstamatic Company build and maintain excellent partnerships with high-visibility companies, organizations, publications and events.

If you’re worried that Hipstamatic are going away, don’t for now. I truly think this is an opportunity for Hipstamatic and company to refocus. I’m going out on a limb, but I have a hunch that Hipstamatic will be around for a while yet.



I may sound a little Pollyanna-ish about Hipstamatic. What are your thoughts? Do you think this is overblown or is this the fall of Hipstamatic? Sound off in the comments below.


About Marty Yawnick 1808 Articles
Marty is a self-employed graphic designer in the Fort Worth/Dallas Metroplex. He is an avid Rangers baseball, Chicago Cubs, Packers and Highbury Arsenal fan. In addition to capturing random moments with whatever camera is close by (usually his iPhone), his other interests include coffee, film, music, and traveling in seats 5E and 5F with his fiancé.
  • @richardgrant

    Your instincts are sharper and better-informed than mine, Marty. But it seems a bit counterintuitive to "refocus" a software company by firing talented engineers and designers. Getting back to their roots shouldn't entail going back to the days when every update meant new bugs that would go unfixed for months.

    • lifeinlofiblog

      Good points, Richard. Without knowing more about what those engineers and designers did for Hipstamatic, though, we can't know for certain how this will effect the rest of the company going forward.

      Lucas and Ryan are incredible designers and marketers. Synthetic was a graphic design agency before Hipstamatic. I'm not concerned there. Ryan coded the early versions of Hipstamatic. I"m not saying that both will jump back in and get their hands dirty with day-to-day work again (although I think Ryan still does some of the coding for the apps)), but I just don't think things are as bleak as The Next Web and TechCrunch stories indicate.


  • Jim Zafrani

    Reading the blog post, it seems to me that they never intended to be a software company. Rather, they wanted to become a content company and used their software as a way of generating content. To me it sounds like they want to go back and expand on the entire content aspect of the company. They will continue to support their software but will most likely slow down on the software end and ramp up on the content generation and delivery end. What is good about this is that they at least realized this and are moving towards pivoting in the direction that they want to go. I am sure that the revenues from the software is also helping making this pivot. I doubt that we will see updates as often as we have in the past moving forward. I am also certain that the other apps that the blog refers to are going to be more related to content delivery and presentation than they would be for generation.

  • Chris Dunlap

    What I want from Hipstamatic first and foremost are interesting , quality film and lenses that are bug free and do not crash . While previously supporting Hipstamatic by buying all available paks – I am less inclined to do so now …My expectations are now higher . I do not want to look back over the last 12 + months and realize that only 1 out of 3 lens / film paks were worth owning (Jane was a nice surprise) . Are we ever going to see a Ben Lowy lens / film pak ? … Hipstamatic : What have you done for me lately ?

  • Leo

    For consumers software comes before content. Slowdowns in downloads can be related to poor quality film and lenses. Ina's 1982 film was plain ugly. If Hipstamatic doesnt release at least one pack per month I am going to delete the app. The app also needs bigger resolutions.

  • Bart

    Agree that reports of Hipstamatic's demise seem to be premature. These are savvy folks (although perhaps not too PR-savvy when it comes to this kind of news) so as always I'll be interested to see what they come up with next.

  • Egmont van Dyck

    The company needs to restructure including its product line in order to survive and it needs to produce products that are not gimmicky and a flash in the pan, but rather more serious, while maintaing the spirit of Hipstamatic.

    Owning all but two film packs, I am often frustrated that good shots are made useless by hotspots, processing anomalies and so forth. It is interesting at first but then gets very 'old' fast. The bottom line is that quality, stability all needs to improve before releasing a product.

    I also cannot understand why things have to disappear back into the vault as some marketing strategy, especially when people ask me what app/film and lens this is and then they cannot buy it.

    I can only hope that in the future Hipstamatic will move away from what is trendy and blaze a new trail with more polished products of substance.

    • Bart

      I can totally understand the draw of limited edition add-ons. You want to create buzz and a sense of urgency. Heck, if Disney does it with DVD / Blu-ray releases (first thing I thought of when you said "the vault") that pretty much confirms it as a sound strategy.

      From what I understand the Nike pack is likely to never be re-released; the Hipstamatic folks have said that that was a learning experience in terms of writing contracts. The rest have occasionally come out of the vault in retro-packs.

      • Clif

        You are correct about the Nike Pak. Here's the reply I received from Synthetic regarding that Pak:

        "Thanks for your question.

        We've received quite a few inquiries about the NSW Always On FreePak not being available in our RetroPaks, so I wanted to take the time to explain why.

        The NSW Always on FreePak was a special project we worked on with Nike, and they requested the Pak be made available for a one time only limited run. In order to honor Nike's request, we're not able to issue the Pak again.

        We know it's disappointing for those of you who want all the Hipstamatic gear, and we don't like disappointing our community. We're aiming to avoid situations like this in the future by making sure we work with brands and photographers that are open to reissuing limited edition Paks."