It was the meeting that was supposed to save Vine from shutting down. But in the end, it led to the “wham moment” for the Twitter child company, that moment where it became apparent nothing would ever be the same again.
An exclusive report from Mic went through the details of a secret meeting in the fall of 2015, where 18 of Vine’s top 50 creators assembled at 1600 Vine Street in Los Angeles, a “frat house” of sorts for most of these Vine mainstays. The meeting was organized by top Viners Marcus Johns and Jon Paul Piques and had the creators talking turkey with the company’s head of Creative Development, Karyn Spencer. The goal of the meeting was to prevent Vine from shutting down amid a serious downtick in app engagement and other distressing factors.
The report claims that the Vine creators had a few demands for Spencer, including payments of $1.2 million each, “several” product changes, and improved transparency. If their demands were met, the creators agreed to create 12 more original Vines per month, potentially increasing views statistics and engagement exponentially and saving the app from its demise. But if Spencer didn’t budge, the creators would take their business elsewhere. That would have been easy for a lot of the Viners in the meeting, as they had already started focusing on other forms of social media, with some even going as far as removing Vine from their biographies.
“We all started to notice our numbers became less and less, while Instagram was growing,” said Vine creator Amanda Cerny, speaking to Mic’s Taylor Lorenz. “We all started posting (on Instagram) more.”
Another Viner, Adande “sWooZie” Thorne, also spoke to Lorenz and told her of his main complaint with the platform: a consistent lack of engagement between Vine and its creators.
“I like YouTube because YouTube is very in touch with creators. They do little things, like, ‘Here’s a $1,000 gift card for some camera equipment.’ Without personalities on your platform, all you have is cat videos and random things people send to each other. It’s junk, and people will leave.”
The report added that a lot of prominent Viners communicated regularly with each other via group chat, and would compare notes on the trends that led to Vine’s shutdown while strategizing on the best times to post their content. Through these chats, it was noticed that the app was indeed on a decline, and the Vine creators thought of ways to spur a turnaround. One of the ways they suggested was to get tough on abusive users, including those who use profanity.
“People on Vine would bash people for no reason,” Piques told Mic’s Lorenz. “We wanted comment filters so we could block words like the F-word from our comments. Vine eventually rolled out some types of filters, but the broad consensus was that it was too little too late.”
— Marcus Johns (@marcusjohns) October 27, 2016
Additionally, the Viners in the meeting felt that the company behind the app wasn’t practicing what it preached. For example, Vine held a “lavish party” for top creator King Bach and invited a lot of his fellow influential creators to the party, where “liquor flowed until the early morning.” But when it was all over, the Viners took immediately to group chat once again, and that time it was rancor, instead of alcohol flowing freely. They complained about Vine not supporting them like they expected despite having enough money to host a big and splashy party.
The fall 2015 meeting in itself started out with lots of promise, Mic reported. Marcus Johns was in charge of drafting the contract, and he and his fellow creators presented the papers to Vine, which, at first, was “tentatively receptive” to the ideas and demands presented. In March, Buzzfeed reported that Vine parent Twitter was taking the payment demand into consideration, and three more Viners soon joined forces with the original 18 to demand payment or walk.
Eventually, nothing came out of that tentative hope of compensation. In a final meeting at 1600 Vine Street, words didn’t need to be said to confirm that the company didn’t agree to the demands.
When Vine shut down on Thursday, users and Viners alike took to social media to share their eulogies for the app, as a three-year era of short, punchy, and funny videos came to an end. But as Re/Code pointed out, the Vine creators who made us laugh in these quick clips are now elsewhere, taking advantage of larger audiences on Facebook, longer videos on Instagram, and/or greater monetization potential on YouTube.
In short, Vine has shut down, but its creators will keep on creating.
[Featured Image by Eugene Hoshiko/AP Images]