Facebook shuts down Creative Labs, apps


By Ian Sherr

Facebook’s Slingshot app missed its mark. So did Riff and Rooms.

The social-networking giant has quietly curtailed its Creative Labs, the startup-like initiative that encouraged its employees to design innovative and unusual mobile software. Among the first casualties: Slingshot, an ephemeral messaging service that competed with Snapchat, and Rooms, a group messaging service.

As of Monday, Slingshot, Rooms and Riff, an app that allowed users to create and share short videos based on a theme, have been pulled from app stores. The Menlo Park, California-based company has also removed the Web page for Creative Labs.

A Facebook spokeswoman confirmed the apps had been removed, noting they hadn’t been updated in some time.

“Since their launches, we’ve incorporated elements of Slingshot, Riff and Rooms into the Facebook for iOS and Android apps,” she added.

Facebook is famous for its mantra “Move fast and break things.” The company decided some of these initiatives had, in fact, failed to gain traction and is shutting them down.

The move marks a turning point for Facebook’s app ambitions as it focuses on other areas of innovation. It’s still building artificial-intelligence technology, drones to beam Internet signals to far-flung parts of the world and virtual-reality goggles. The company has also been steadily adding features to its primary social-networking service, such as live streaming and 360-degree videos.

Creative Labs was a two-year experiment that often drew inspiration from Facebook’s famous “hackathons,” binge-coding sessions where developers work together over a day or so to create a prototype app or service.

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