Put aside the woes of Facebook, Google and Twitter, and 2018 was still a rough year for the technology industry.
Google pulled the plug on its long-suffering Google+. Theranos, the blood testing startup that was a former star of Silicon Valley, closed its doors after being exposed as a fraud. And a once-promising robot was sent to robot heaven.
Here’s a look back at the companies, products and once-popular features that bowed out in 2018.
Nevermind that Google+ never really took off in a popularity. In a year where data privacy has dominated the conversation, Google’s attempt at a social network made headlines for a bug that exposed the personal information of as many as 52.5 million people to third-party developers.
Google had already announced in October that it would wind down Google+ after it was revealed the company kept quiet about another bug, this one affecting 500,000 people, but the larger breach led to Google winding down its operations even sooner. Google+ as we know it is set to disappear in April. The company said its private business version will continue to operate.
Elon Musk’s L.A. Tunnel
Elon Musk’s Los Angeles freeway tunnel turned out to be nothing more than a pipe dream.
The Boring Company said last month that it was withdrawing plans for a tunnel on the city’s congested Westside as part of a settlement with community groups that had sued over a plan that would have exempted the project from an environmental review.
But it wasn’t all bad news for Musk. He showed off a test tunnel in Hawthorne, California, this month and gave VIPs a subterranean ride.
The online social influence platform, which gave people a numerical score to let them know how much power they wielded online, closed down as Europe’s new data privacy law took effect on May 25.
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Lithium Technologies, the company that acquired Klout in 2014, said the purchase provided them with “valuable artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities, but Klout as a standalone service is not aligned with our long-term strategy.”
The blood testing startup laid off its employees in April after founder Elizabeth Holmes was hit with fraud charges and lawsuits. The company officially bled out in September, posting an insolvency notice on its website.
Yahoo Messenger, which launched as Yahoo Pager in 1998, officially signed off from the internet in July.
Loyal users — if there are any — should still have a chance to download their data, which Yahoo said would be available for up to six months after the shutdown.
Yahoo’s move follows AOL Instant Messenger, which entered the virtual pearly gates in December 2017.
Facebook continues to deal with the fallout from its handling of user data, but much of the blowback began when a whistleblower exposed the operations of Cambridge Analytica.
The London-based political consultancy was able to harness data from Facebook users to help political campaigns build psychological profiles of potential voters and to effectively target them through social media.
Cambridge Analytica filed for bankruptcy in May as it faced mounting scrutiny about its internal operations.
Netflix user-generated reviews
Netflix scrubbed user reviews from its website, marking the end of an era for loyalists who had to let everyone know what they thought of “Ozark” and each season of “Friends.”
The streaming service said it pulled the plug on user reviews because of “declining use.” Netflix is now relying on users to rate what they watch with a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down, which will factor into the recommendations they see.
There’s money floating around Silicon Valley right now for someone who can come up with a viable alternative to Facebook. It just won’t be Path.
The social network, launched in 2012 and positioned as a more intimate version of Facebook, let users have just 50 friends before increasing the limit to 500. Path shut down in October.
“Over the years we have tried to lay out our mission: Through technology and design we aim to be a source of happiness, meaning, and connection to our users,” the company said in a statement.
For two years in a row, the cute, friendly robot impressed at the Consumer Electronics Show, where it was billed as a robot families would want to welcome into their homes. Kuri could do everything from capturing family memories on camera to providing companionship.
But Kuri never got to live up to that promise. In July, Mayfield Robotics announced the end of Kuri and said it would refund preorders.
While the company said it still has ambitions for building an “adorable robot,” there wasn’t a clear fit for Bosch, the German electronics company that incubated Mayfield Robotics in its startup accelerator, to support and expand the business.