In December, Dom Hofmann, one of the cofounders of beloved looping video app Vine, raised the collective hopes of the internet—at least for a moment. He tweeted that he was going to resurrect his creation, which shuttered in 2016. The plan was to self-fund the new venture, dubbed “V2.” On Friday though, Hofmann backed down. In a statement, he announced that V2 is now postponed for an “indefinite amount of time.”
“I underestimated the amount of enthusiasm and attention the announcement would generate,” Hofmann wrote. “The interest has been extremely encouraging, but it has also created some roadblocks.” Hofmann went on to explain that the larger-than-expected potential audience of V2 would require more money than he could front, especially given what he describes as “overwhelming” legal costs. He says he thinks the app would likely need outside funding to actually come to fruition. Hofmann also already has his hands full with Interspace VR, a creative entertainment studio he founded.
“I’m very, very sorry for the disappointment. If it’s any consolation, I think it would have been more disappointing if this service had been developed and released incorrectly, which is where we were headed. I’d like for us to get it right,” Hofmann wrote. He added that he is willing to speak with other teams working on similar services to “exchange ideas,” though it’s unclear if he had anyone specific in mind; in the years since Vine’s demise, no one has been able to replicate its exact appeal.
The brevity of the videos you could post on Vine bred content that was mostly humorous, nonsensical, and apolitical. Its loops created a kind of out-of-body experience you couldn’t get anywhere else. You can get a small taste of it from the classic vines below, although you’ll need to manually repeat them since they’re now on YouTube.
Creating a Vine was almost too easy—you could film and edit a clip within a couple of minutes on your phone. The restrictive format turned coming up with a compelling Vine into a kind of game, just like Twitter’s original 140 character limit did.
Vine died just before the 2016 presidential election, and never suffered from the same misinformation scandals as platforms like Reddit, Tumblr, Facebook, and Twitter. It’s still preserved in the internet’s collective memory as a hypnotic, joyous service that brought out the best in the social web.
In the meantime, both Vine’s stars and memes have persisted long after the platform itself disappeared. There was “Damn Daniel,” of course, as well as singer Shawn Mendes and comedian Brittany Furlan. And Logan and Jake Paul, the notorious YouTube-famous brothers, got their start on none other than Vine.
So what happened to Vine? It was acquired by Twitter before it launched in 2012. It then grew to over 200 million active users, but by 2016 Twitter said it was no longer going to support it. Nothing quite like it has come along since, in part because launching a new social media app in a post Facebook-world has increasingly become an impossible task. And even if you do create something that catches on, Facebook will probably just acquire it anyway.
All the more impressive, then, Hofmann tried to bring Vine back. Now there’s not enough money to make it happen. Typical. Maybe not all good things are destined to repeat.
Growing on the Vine
CORRECTION 5/4/18 3:10 PM: This story originally said that Hofmann is a co-founder of HQ Trivia. He is not. The founders of that startup are Rus Yusupov and Colin Kroll, who also helped created Vine.