Hires and Fires
Wondering what happened to Turntable.fm’s fast following, Xoogler-founded cousin, Rolling.fm? The social music site has been serving up errors for about two weeks; Tenka, the founders’ previous startup, is also gone. Co-founder and chief product officer Tim Zhou, whose resume includes IBM and Google, did not respond to a request for comment by email, and now we know why.
Back in September, Turntable.fm fast follower Rolling.fm was trumpeting achievements and rolling out new features. “We are excited to announce there has been over 1,000,000 friendships made on Rolling.FM since our launch a little over a month ago! Our platform has definitely become the music AND social discovery platform,” cofounder Nhon Ma wrote in an email announcing more social features and an enhanced profile browser. But the streaming music game built by former Googlers seems to have dropped off the map sometime last month. “Was curious to know what was going on with rolling.fm after their site hasn’t been resolving for previous couple weeks,” a tipster wrote in.
Indeed, Rolling.fm does not resolve and the last tweet was on November 19. Rolling’s precursor, a social deals site called Tenka.com, is also not resolving.
Users felt a sense of deja-vu when Rolling.fm, an interactive music streaming start-up, launched just over a week ago. Rolling.fm’s interface–a virtual club with DJs lined up at a laptop and a floating chat room–looks so much like viral hit Turntable.fm that users, along with Betabeat’s own numero uno Turntable fanboy, @benpopper, immediately started calling it a knock-off and questioning its legitimacy. (One Betabeat tipster claimed the app, which has 2,400 daily average users according to the most recent numbers from AppData, is populated by fake avatars).
Rolling is hardly the first pop-up app inspired by Turntable.fm’s innovation and success. But the app, made by the three ex-Google co-founders of the daily deals / social media advertising start-up Tenka, features all the Turntable calling cards: avatars of DJs and listeners, rotating DJ spots, and a “weak-hot” rating system that can get DJs points or get a song skipped.
After some initial dodginess about where the idea came from, Rolling.fm’s founders are ready to own- up to their origins. “I think it’s obvious that the initial version of Rolling is inspired by Turntable,” co-founder Tim Zhou said in an email. “To say otherwise is not accurate. We started working on our pivot in late May.”