If you're as glued to social media as we are, you’ve probably asked yourself at some point, "Why did Vine shut down?" Lucky for you, we did a deep dive into the beloved beloved short form video app on PureWow's nostalgic pop culture podcast, What Ever Happened To...?—where we come together to relive pop culture history and uncover what became of the celebrities and trends that defined our adolescence.
Why Did Vine Shut Down? A Deep Dive Into the Beloved Short Form Video App
To put it simply, Vine died after its early success because 1) There was competition with other social platforms, and 2) They failed to support the top Viners who were bringing them all their success.
What was Vine?
In case you need a refresher, Vine was a short-lived social media app that launched in 2013 where users could share 6-second looping videos. The videos you'd see on the app were normally silly skits or quick, random moments that became timeless quotable memes. There was a specific comedy style to Vine that, sure, you do see on TikTok these days—but Vine was just a different ballgame of weird, internet-y humor—and people loved it.
Believe it or not, many internet stars we've grown to know today got their start on Vine. Ever heard of a little someone named Shawn Mendes? Yeah, he came from Vine. And in our opinion, nobody talks about that enough.
Shawn was a part of this group known as "the Magcon boys," a crew of teen heartthrobs who got famous on the internet and went on a tour called—you guessed it—Magcon (short for "meet-and-green-convention"). Other Magcon members included names pop culture followers would recognize, but non-pop culture followers would not: Cameron Dallas, Jack Johnson, Jack Gilinsky, Matthew Espinosa, Nash Grier, Aaron Carpenter... the list goes on.
But they weren’t the only celebs to emerge from Vine. Ever heard of Logan and Jake Paul, King Bach, the Dolan Twins, Rudy Mancuso or Lele Pons? They were all Vine royalty and went on to take over social media, even after Vine's collapse.
How did Vine start?
Vine was founded in 2012 by three people named Dom Hofmann, Rus Yusupov and Colin Kroll. They sold their app to Twitter for $30 million before even launching, and the founders joined the company as part of the acquisition. They launched the next year, and the app immediately blew up.
Why did Vine shut down?
While Vine did provide their creators with a huge amount of reach, you know what they say, "exposure" doesn’t pay the bills—or buy the mansion in LA.
Aside from making sponsored videos for other brands, there wasn’t a way for people to earn money directly through Vine. So, once Vine creators got word that the company didn't have any plans to let people make money on the app, Vine’s biggest stars packed their bags and started focusing on Instagram, where they were seeing better numbers, and YouTube, where they could make longer content and monetize.
There were also other factors that came into play, like the fact that YouTube and Instagram were big competitors. Plus, there was a lot of turnover within Vine's leadership.
In 2014, Hofmann, one of the co-founders, announced he would step down as general manager. His fellow co-founder Kroll took on the role for a few months before he stepped down, too. And they both moved into advisory roles. Yusupov, the last remaining founder, was then affected by a big Twitter layoff in 2015.
According to a Mic article from 2016, 18 of Vine's biggest stars formed an alliance and essentially staged an intervention for Vine's top executives. At this point, the early success of Vine had worn off and the app was beginning to fizzle.
The Vine creator coalition met with Karyn Spencer, Vine's Creative Development Lead, and some other Vine reps, with a list of demands. The group that banded together was organized by then-Vine stars Marcus Johns and Piques, and they brought a contract to the executives.
If Vine paid each of the 18 Viners $1.2 million and made certain changes to the platform, they’d all post 12 monthly Vines—or else, they would leave the app. At this point, this small group was driving billions of views to Vine on their own.
They knew that they had the power to either kill the app with their absence or make things right. They asked for stronger filters for abusive comments, a feature which allowed for links to be added to captions, and overall better tools for in-app video editing. After word about that contract spread, a couple more people added their names to the list—bringing the alliance up to 21 fed-up Viners.
However, Vine didn’t bite. Growth declined, and influencers fled to other platforms. As expected, in October 2016, Twitter announced they’d be pulling the plug on Vine.
The official press release read, "Since 2013, millions of people have turned to Vine to laugh at loops and see creativity unfold. Today, we are sharing the news that in the coming months we’ll be discontinuing the mobile app."
One year later, Vine was officially a goner. There were a couple half-hearted attempts to make things right for Viners, so they didn’t just lose all of their content. In 2017, the app rebranded to “Vine Camera.” The app allowed users to make looping videos, but there was no more posting within Vine—just saving to your phone or sharing on Twitter. The company also came out with an Internet archive of all Vine videos that had ever been published—but eventually, that shut down, too.
In 2018, Kroll tragically died of an accidental drug overdose. Not long before passing, he had partnered with his fellow co-founder Yusupov to launched the viral live game show app HQ Trivia (remember that?). Around the same time, news spread that co-founder Hoffman would be creating a new Vine, originally called V2, before changing the name to Byte (not to be confused with ByteDance, the company that owns TikTok).
After three years of a beta testing, Byte officially launched in 2020. Then, in 2021, another short-form video app called Clash acquired Byte, and both platforms merged into a single app called Clash (which is still around!). Fun fact: The co-founder and CEO of Clash, Brendon McNerney, was also a vine creator.
So, that's what happened to the beloved app! Now excuse us while we watch Vine compilations on YouTube.