Polyvore was a community-based social commerce website founded by Pasha Sadri in 2007. While decorating his new house, Sadri, an engineer at Yahoo, found himself cutting furniture ideas and color patches out of magazines and arranging them on an inspiration board. At some point, he considered that these boards could be created more easily online. The basis for their construction was Yahoo Pipes, which Sadri used with fellow Yahoo engineers Guangwei Yuen and Jianing Hu to launch the first version of the Polyvore platform in 2007. Three years later, the platform received 6.6 million unique visitors with revenue mostly dependent on affiliate links. This number had increased to 20 million monthly users by 2016, with the Pinterest-esque curated shopping service amassing some 100 million items. On April 5, 2018, Polyvore was acquired by Canadian retailer Ssense with operations to cease immediately.
So what happened to Polyvore?
When Polyvore was acquired by Ssense, the Montreal-based fashion platform and retailer suggested the coming together of both companies was synergistic: “We believe that Ssense is the right community for the Polyvore members, and we’re inspired by their commitment to offering a directional mix of the most coveted labels in the world.”
Though never publicly confirmed, the company’s motivation to acquire Polyvore was likely its large and devoted user base. But somewhat ironically, the acquisition angered the very customers it was hoping to secure. Polyvore users took to social media to lament the loss of friend networks and personal blogs that had taken years to create. Many also made a promise to never purchase from Ssense and urged others to do the same.
In a statement of its own, Polyvore told users that their personal data would be shared with Ssense so that it could send them promotional information.
However, one wonders why user data was shared between the platforms when the two brands could not be more different. In one corner was Polyvore, a democratized fashion platform where brand discovery was a crowdsourced, community experience. In the other corner was Ssense, a platform for the uber-cool fashionista with an editorial department writing about arty and intellectual topics such as Croatian brutalism and sound art.
While there was some degree of overlap between the two services, most users of the much more low-key Polyvore were never going to find a home on the suave and sophisticated Ssense platform. The inability for Ssense management to realize this fact was more or less confirmed when Polyvore fans reacted badly to the acquisition.
At the time of writing, it is unclear as to whether Ssense has any plans to bring back the features that made Polyvore such a hit.
- Polyvore was a community-based social commerce website founded by Pasha Sadri in 2007. Two years after reaching a peak of 20 million monthly active users, the platform was acquired by Canadian retail platform Ssense and shut down almost immediately.
- Though never publicly confirmed, the company’s motivation to acquire Polyvore was likely its large and devoted user base. However, Polyvore fans reacted badly to the news that their curated accounts and friend networks would be lost.
- Ssense suggested that its community was appropriate for Polyvore members. In reality, however, the two platforms attracted a different sort of customer with limited overlap in content or fashion preferences.
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