Before there was TikTok, there was Vine.
Launched in June 2012 by Rus Yusupov, Dom Hofmann and Colin Kroll, Vine was one of the first social media apps to make the short form video both mainstream and accessible.
A novelty at the time of its release, the platform made it possible for people to create, watch and share six-second clips that were played on loop. It became such a hit that it was quickly acquired by Twitter in October 2012 for $30 million.
For a short time, Vine appeared to be unrivaled and ubiquitous. In its prime, the app inspired users to get more creative and make their videos more complex, pushing the envelope of what could capture our attention best within as little time and space as possible.
Whether it was a clip of a potato that flew around a room or a 3-year-old child who loved — perhaps a little too much — getting an avocado for his birthday, these videos made us scream, laugh and cry — sometimes all at once.
Around 2014, a number of early ex-Vine stars moved into a Los Angeles apartment complex to increase their follower count. The building was located on a street that shared the same name, most appropriately, with the video app that would launch their careers: Vine.
Some found themselves appearing on both daytime and late-night talk shows. Others won Teen Choice Awards. Their success even bled into mainstream cable TV and network shows like CBS’ “60 Minutes” — which many in the digital space considered a milestone for the Vine community.
But the six-second time cap, which initially catapulted Vine into viral success, later became its Achilles' heel.
The major inflection point came in June 2013 when Instagram introduced 15-second clips, some former executives told The Verge in 2016 — the same year Vine finally broke away from its six-second rule, which, executives said, was three years too late.
The longer Instagram clips prompted marketers to gradually shift their money away from Vine, which led to the app’s eventual decline, according to The Verge.
And as it fell in demand, some of the more popular ex-Viners, like David Dobrik and Logan Paul, moved their content (and followers) to YouTube or Instagram.
In October 2016, after news that Twitter would shut down Vine, Yusupov tweeted: “Don’t sell your company!”
Yusupov and Hofmann did not immediately respond to NBC News' request for comment. Kroll died in 2018 at age 34.
On Jan. 18, 2017, Vine officially folded after the large-scale departure of advertising money and content creators.
For all its shortcomings, however, the app will be forever memorialized as a medium that fostered a hilarious, albeit fleeting, community — providing a perfect, innocuous interruption and respite from the routine of our daily lives (not too dissimilar from what TikTok provides today).
In honor of the five-year anniversary of Vine's death, NBC News is profiling some of the most popular ex-Viners. Here's a look at those featured:
Like many Vine stars, Christine Sydelko moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career as a YouTube creator after finding success on the app. During her YouTube stint with then-comedy partner Elijah Daniel, Sydelko amassed 1.3 million subscribers. In 2018, the pair announced their split as collaborators, and a year later, Sydelko announced that she was leaving YouTube entirely. She hated the influencer lifestyle, she told NBC News, and didn’t like who she was becoming as her following grew. The 27-year-old now lives with her family in Arizona, and aside from the occasional Instagram post, has stayed off social media. Her fans may miss her, but Sydelko has no plans to come back to the public spotlight.
Left at London (Nat Puff)
Nat Puff, known online as Left At London, wasn’t a Vine star when the app was still running. A few of her videos went viral on Vine, but it was the nostalgic compilation videos posted after Vine shut down that boosted Left At London to a bona fide online legend. Since first posting on the app as a college student, the now-25-year-old came out as trans, moved to TikTok and released several albums. Now as a TikTok star, she’s coming to terms with aging online.
Drew Gooden's famous Vines continue to thrive today, even without the platform. His “Road Work Ahead” Vine is considered one of the most viral Vines ever made. Today he's a full-time YouTuber with a commentary channel on pop culture.
Nicholas Fraser was catapulted into the national spotlight in August 2015 after releasing his “Why You Always Lying?” Vine sung to the tune of R&B band Next’s 1997 single, “Too Close.” The 27-year-old content creator has since gone on to produce music and a YouTube cooking show — and even sold his classic Vine (and meme) as an NFT.
Danny Gonzalez's most famous Vine doesn't even feature his face. Instead, it's a six-second clip of shoes edited on to dinosaurs from “Jurassic Park.” But his career on Vine also launched a full-time YouTube career, where he comments on internet and pop culture.