Senan Byrne, Ireland’s biggest Vine star, reacts to its death

28 Oct 201658 Shares

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Vine app. Image: GongTo/Shutterstock

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Twitter has decided to pull the plug on its ‘loopy’ video app Vine, but what does Ireland’s biggest star on the platform, Senan Byrne, think of it?

The latest financial results for Twitter have not been cause for celebration, with news that it will be laying off 9pc of its global workforce with the aim of boosting profitability.

But what came as a surprise was the announcement that it was to shed one of its previous acquisitions – the video-clip sharing app Vine.

Back in 2013, Twitter paid just $30m for the app co-founded by Rus Yusupov, Dom Hofmann and Colin Kroll. Vine loops six second clips and was seen as appealing to the short attention spans of GIF-loving millennials.

Just a few years later, Yusupov found himself kicked out of Twitter and was recently quick to ironically reflect on his former company’s demise.

While Twitter hasn’t given a timeline as to when it will shut down the service for good, it begs the question as to what will happen to its many stars who started – and continue – their careers on the platform.

From an Irish perspective, no one is likely to take the news of its closure more to heart than Senan Byrne, arguably the country’s biggest presence on Vine.

‘I’m angry at Twitter for their decision’

Profiled last January on Siliconrepublic.com, after being named the first person from outside the US to be in Vine’s Creator Spotlight series, Byrne described this revelation as a “complete shock”.

“To say I’m gutted is an understatement,” he said. “I certainly shed a few tears last night.”

While Ireland’s reach for Vine remained relatively low, Byrne is a powerful force on the platform globally – with nearly 300,000 followers, and close to 263m loops since he began dedicating more time to it in 2015.

In the beginning, he said that “he’d give it a lash for a while”, but now a huge part of his life is going to ripped away.

“I love the app and it had such a positive impact on my life over the past two-and-a-half years,” he said in conversation with Siliconrepublic.com. “I met strangers, and from those strangers, I made friends. I was so lucky that Vine took me on trips abroad to promote the app.

“I’m angry at Twitter for their decision but at the end of the day, it’s a business and it’s their product.”

When asked whether he felt any decline in the number of people using it, Byrne said that from his perspective “the app was very much alive”, with some of his latest posts reaching viral status of between 15,000 and 20,000 likes each.

Other apps not to blame

He does think however, that it just never reached any sort of popularity here in Ireland, describing it as “very much an American app”.

One possible reason for its death has been attributed to the growth of Instagram and Snapchat as the new homes of short clips, the latter of which is aiming to raise $4bn for its IPO in March 2017.

However, if there was a more successful competitor, Byrne thinks Instagram had more of a part to play than Snapchat.

“Snapchat is very much ‘disposable’ content whereas Instagram is slowly starting to treat video content with some respect,” he said.

“People are posting high quality video there. Ultimately, it is Twitter’s own doing that led to Vine’s demise.”

In the meantime, he plans to continue producing content through his YouTube, Instagram and Facebook accounts.

Vine app. Image: GongTo/Shutterstock

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Colm Gorey is a journalist with Siliconrepublic.com

editorial@siliconrepublic.com