Platial, a social mapping startup, has decided to call it quits. The company announced its plans to shut down in a blog post on Saturday. The site may go offline as soon as Tuesday.
The Portland, Ore.-based company’s product allowed users to create and share their maps. Its product was built on the Google Maps application programming interface and designed to let users place markers over points on a map and sprinkle them with pictures and commentary.
Because the company relied on mashups with Google maps, the company always faced an uphill battle. It soon became evident that there was little reason for people to visit it: Over time, Google has increasingly added ways for users to submit their own data directly to Google’s map product. Not only that, but Microsoft’s Bing has added similar map features recently (involving Bing Maps and Photosynth), and competition has only increased.
Platial remained silent on exactly why it’s closing shop.
[Update: GigaOm has just published an interview with Platial chairman and former CEO Di-Ann Eisnor on what took the company down. According to Eisnor, it was a matter of getting to market too soon, running out of money, and having several acquisition deals fall through. You can access the interview here.]
The service is expecting to be disconnected soon, and the company is encouraging users to export their maps and pass the word around.
“We are painfully aware that this is an incredibly short amount of time to dump this on people. The only response is a sincere apology”, read the company’s blog post.
Platial scored a lot of backing from investors like Kleiner-Perkins, Byers, Omidyar Network, Ron Conway, Jack Dangernon, Ram Shriram and Georges Harik. The company raised $2,6 million from Keynote Ventures in February 2007. Platial did make some noteworthy moves: It acquired competitor Frappr in 2007.
There is an irony here: Ram Shriram is a founding board member of Google, who are not exactly strangers to the location business. It would have figured that Platial had a lot to gain from Shriram’s insight, but looks like Platial’s sense of direction got muddled along the way.