An intimate portrait of innovation, risk, and failure through Hipstamatic’s lens

Excellent long read over at Fast Company on the rise and fall of the iPhone photo filter app Hipstamatic. It’s focused almost entirely on the startup’s work culture and changing focus over time. There’s a lot of issues noted here that I’ve seen or heard about at other companies, most notably:

But despite the external success of the product, internally, tension had reached a boiling point, and demonstrated Buick’s growing disconnect with Hipstamatic’s developers, in terms of both product development and company direction. The tension spoke to a larger divide between the company’s designers and engineers, an obstacle that most startups face at some point. As [Hipstamatic CEO] Buick tells me, his founding team, which was composed mostly of designers, “never operated [Hipstamatic] as a software company. As we started building that type of company, we ended up with really talented engineers who were not used to our creative process. There was tension. There was separation on the teams.”

Tech companies are increasingly defined by their designer/developer relations. A lack of solid, tight collaboration between the two groups can easily kill company momentum.