I shared this with a friend a few years ago. It’s humbling to work on a project long enough to see most of your best work replaced by something new. A lot of the work I contributed to in the early days at Dwolla, we’ve shut down or replaced. Even my early business models have been replaced a few times.

It’s been a somewhat therapeutic exercise to talk about some of this with friends/founders lately. There’s no shame in discontinuing a product. No more than when a better engineer replaces something you did years prior or a better designer replaces something you created around the same time.

Companies, brands, and technology are meant to evolve. Sometimes that evolution is just an end to a product. 

We stopped selling FiSync

We built FiSync to facilitate real-time transactions. It did just that and we launched it to decent fanfare. The idea was that if we could get it into market, others would adopt it, and the regulation would emerge to provide proper oversight to how the system should be allowed to operate.

What happened in reality. Cost to support it was crazy without a path to ubiquity. The market is still waiting for a regulator to be named and who knows when that will happen. We’re contributing to real-time initiatives in the US now in different ways, like with Fedfast. The truth is that the millions of dollars needed to maintain & sell FiSync in the market the market just doesn’t make sense on these timelines. We’ve taken the knowledge we gained and made it available to anyone to download and learn from.

Tough choice. We can buy time or shelf it. Buying time is expensive.

We’ve taken a slightly different approach to real-time that is somewhat similar to the way we handled Same Day ACH. We focus on making the infrastructure that’s in place easy to use and drastically reduce the work for our customers to use it.

We shut down the mobile apps

What happened in reality. Mobile apps anyone can use for free are a dime a dozen and mobile payment adoption still hasn’t really cracked the mainstream. While Apple pay and others have certainly raised continued awareness outside of a very small (but very active) group of users we never saw it take off the way we it saw it happen in Des Moines. ReadWriteWeb even called Des Moines the mobile payment capital of the world once, and at the time I think it was probably true.

Tough choice. We can buy time or shelf it. Buying time is expensive.

I’ve already seen a half dozen mobile payment applications get built or be proposed to be on the Access API, all of which get full team support and an entire company working to make them successful.

We shut down the functionality in our P2P applications

By the time we turned this off ~6% of volume was P2P. So as the platforms growth continued to almost double year over year, P2P stayed virtually flat on our own platform.

Where it didn’t stay flat is where other companies were building with the Access API. The experience they were providing was better than what we were providing.

Not a tough choice. We could invest to compete with customers, but why would we do that?

We ultimately decided to send people to another company to get a better experience.

Things change

Your work getting replaced normally means something better is replacing it. When you need to shut a product down it normally means focusing on what’s working and helping your company grow. Both are things to be excited about even if the initial idea may feel a little awkward.