Hipstamatic Hands Pink Slip to All but 5 of Its Core Employees

Before Instagram, there was Hipstamatic. Hipstamatic was one of the pioneers and heavyweights in the retro filter photo app space, but when Instagram came along, the price advantage (free vs. $2), ease of use, filter selection, and built-in social network allowed Instagram to turn into the new 800 lb. gorilla of mobile photo sharing.

The story is strangely similar to the history of Myspace and Facebook, and yesterday the narrative became even more identical. On the same day that Instagram rolled out version 3.0 to its 80+ million members, Hipstamatic laid off all but 5 of its core staff.

The Next Web writes that although the app is one of the most popular photo apps and a top 100 paid app (#99 at the moment), Hipstamatic’s parent company Synthetic doesn’t feel like it’s raking in enough dough.

The layoffs are therefore meant more for rethinking the app and business model rather than for throwing up the white flag.

Unlike Instagram, the app is one with a clear-cut business model and consistent source of revenue. The download itself costs $2, and users can also drop more money on in-app purchases for things like additional “films” and “lenses”.

Here’s what Inc. magazine had to say about the app in a profile of its founders, published at the beginning of last month:

Today, Hipstamatic boasts over 4 million users and brought in $10 million in revenue last year. It has also become Synthetic’s flagship product, and inspired the company to create a portfolio of other photo apps, including Disposable, IncrediBooth, and SwankoLab. The founders project revenue of $22 million this year.

Hipstamatic, of course, continues to be the company’s backbone. The app hit the Apple store in December 2009, and within the first 36 hours, it was the most downloaded app in Japan.

4 million members for an iPhone app is quite a lot, but paltry compared to the membership figures seen at Instagram. Luckily for fans of the app, the fact that it remains profitable means you can snap away without the fear of it being shuttered anytime soon.

Image credit: Ortona Cemetary by AstronomyGal

  • ted e bear

    I’m still waiting for an app where you speak any old rubbish into it and it pops out a speech which everyone thinks is as brilliant as a TED talk. Until they notice that they all sound suspiciously the same….

  • Andersen Dash

    I started with Hipstamatic and quickly changed to Instagram, aber realizing, that Instagram doesn’t suck like 2 % of battery every minute, like Hipstamatic does. They should really try to improve that and the speed of the filtering as well. I don’t know if it’s possible at all (seeing, that the Hipstamatic “filters” are way more elaborate, than the IG ones and thus need more time to “calculate”), but those two factors really hindered the use of Hipstamatic for me.

  • Andersen Dash

    “aber” = “after”

  • snapshot1


  • Nathan Blaney

    I still like the way Hipstamatic does some things differently than Instagram – black and white shooting being one of them. Also, Instagram essentially forces you to have a web presence (unless you want to go in and delete the photos as you shoot them) but Hipstamatic is just a camera app… and lots of people don’t need/want to share the images they shoot. Hipstamatic also produces a larger image, which although marginal is always better in my book. Personally, I think if Hipstamatic produced a photoshop plugin, that could be a real boost for them. Snapseed is on the right track having a stand-alone desktop app, but integration with Photoshop is necessary to be a real winner.

  • ScottKDC

    This article notes Hipstamatic to lay off all but 5 employees. Since they have only 11 employees, you could also say “Hipstamatic to lay off 6 employees” but that doesn’t sound as dramatic does it? Or perhaps “Hipstamatic lays off half its staff”! I hope they stick around. I like both Instagram and Hipst for different reasons.

  • Jake

    It’s called Podcasting, and there’s more than enough of that around too.

  • nate parker

    Hipstamatic has always been my favorite go-to camera app, I use it for b+w and it makes a gorgeous image, and as Nathan Blaney points out in the comments above you don’t have to be involved in the internet to simply enjoy this camera app. Hope Hipsta is around for a long time to come.

  • John Kantor

    How Boardmembers think: “Let’s Kill It! That will show it for not making us all rich.”