3guppies.jpg3Guppies, a Seattle company that lets you take pictures with your cell phone and immediately post them to your blog or social network, has apparently been shut down by its investor, VantagePoint Venture Partners — an aggressive move that has left its founders stunned.

The company, originally named Mixxer, first came into existence through a complicated deal in which VantagePoint spent $20 million to buy two companies: MoPhone, a mobile social networking company, and 3Guploads, a ringtone company founded by students from the University of Indiana. MoPhone’s CEO, Bill Bryant, was chosen to lead the new entity. Within a year, VantagePoint had removed Bryant from the helm, but, our source tells us, not before he walked out the door with a significant (but unknown) amount of cash derived from the sale of his original company.

And now, apparently to the complete surprise of 3Guppies’ management and employees, VantagePoint has turned off the lights, even though 3Guppies still had around $8 million in the bank. Employees were sent home about a week ago, but will continue to get paid until the end of the month.

We’ve reached out to VantagePoint for comment. We’ll update when we know more.

[Update: VantagePoint has responded. The firm says that, contrary to our source’s assertion, the CEO and senior management knew what was coming if they proved unable to deliver on a set of metrics sufficient to raise a second round. VantagePoint says that in November, the CEO presented a set of plans for going forward, and that one of these plans involved shutting down.

The firm also says 3Guppies did not have $8 million in the bank, as reported, but less than $3 million. It also denies that original CEO Bill Bryant left with a significant amount of cash. Instead, says VantagePoint, he assisted in finding his replacement, stayed on board as an adviser, and was compensated for that assistance. Of the decision to shut down, VantagePoint say, “it just was not a good idea to blast to the end of the runway and crash, but to taxi off gracefully.”]

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