“Where were you the day the first Vine died?” is a question I hope my grandchildren get to ask me. I’m not being dramatic (OK, maybe a little) when I say Vine is a cultural institution. The platform held the greatest and only collection of looping six second videos, featuring anything from the most absurd comedy to some wholesome videos of this musical man and his dog. It launched a whole genre of millennial humour and the careers of a bunch of suburban teens. And then one day it shut down. The death of Vine seemed to happen as suddenly as one of its six-second videos.
One of Vine’s creators, Dom Hofmann, recently announced through a series of mildly cryptic tweets that he was launching a new version of the platform. The original Vine was created and launched four years ago by Hofmann, Rus Yusupov, and Colin Kroll. The trio sold the platform to Twitter in October 2012, before it’s launch. Twitter shut down the service in October 2017, effectively ending the careers of thousands of content creators, who were reported to be making $20,000 to $50,000 in brand deals.
Hofmann had hinted earlier through Twitter that he was working on a new Vine platform. But on December 6 he released what seems to be its new logo. Hofmann also tweeted that he wanted to establish three principles for V2, which include an “equal voice” for every creator and fostering a “civilized, kind, inclusive, and absolutely non-toxic community.” In V2, this inclusivity is apparently going to be achieved, at least in part, via the new “nope” button—however Hofmann’s been equally vague about the feature besides tweeting that it’ll let users “shape your timeline.”
After the initial announcement, there hasn’t been much else from Hofmann about the platform. But in the meantime, VICE spoke to some of the platform’s first content creators to figure out what went wrong with Vine and what V2 needs to get right.
VICE: What was going on with you when Vine first shut down?
Wahlid: When it first shut down I got pretty lucky because I knew—I didn’t put all my eggs in Vine. Luckily I had a job. Vine was great though because it helped me learn my timing and I learned a lot about myself making those short videos. I got a job from it, like I used to work at Subway, then I quit to make videos on the internet, which was not the best idea at the time.
How did you feel about the state of Vine right before it shut down?
Maybe like two or three months before it shut down, everyone kind of felt like it was dying off or it wasn’t as active as it used to be. It was a good year in 2015, it was popping everyone was making stuff and trends left and right and then the last couple of months it was just like meh. And I had heard, like someone from Vine told me that the reason Vine dead was that “creators like yourself aren’t making stuff as often.” I was like “oh shit.” That hit me hard.
If Vine didn’t shut down would you still be on it?
Yeah! I have so many ideas, I have like a little booklet ever since Vine died.
So if V2 launched tomorrow would you be ready to go?
I just want to do one Vine where like it’s me in a cage with a full beard and it’s like “3 years since Vine” and I’m so jaded, maybe I have a hyena next to me. But I want to keep it super casual where I’m just like “hey guys, what’s good? I’m back.”
Vine’s such a unique format, was it hard to transition out of it and make longer content?
Once you kind of figure out and pinpoint your own timing, which is what Vine teaches you, you can pretty much do anything. It was hard man, that timing is not easy.
Is it going to be hard to get back into making Vines?
I mean I’d definitely be more jaded, I’d feel a little bit cooler because I’ve had all this experience.
How much do you know about V2? Have you spoken to any of the creators personally?
Not the main guy [Dom] but I’ve spoken to the other guys before. They’re cool, I mean engineers can be really interesting people, not to bash them but some of them are kind of weird. But no I haven’t talked to them. All I know is that one little picture he put out.
What does the new Vine need to have to make it better? Would monetization help?
Yeah monetization would help the platform. But whatever 2015 was, it was such a prime time for Vine. If they kept it there—I think what they did that messed it up was that they curated it just a bit too much, and then whatever was popular was kind of their favourites. I think it should be anyone’s ball game at that point, because in 2015 you could see anyone on the popular page and then 2016 it was sort of whoever their favourite creator was. I’d rather everyone have a chance.
VICE: Where were you when the OG Vine shut down?
Nick: I was in LA when I first heard about it. There was talk about it, like they were going to shut it down but then one day it was like, “Oh shit it’s actually gone.” I was just like “Well, fuck.” Guess I got to figure out something else.
Were you already thinking of transitioning out of Vine before the app shut down?
Yeah, honestly after all the initial stuff happened to me I was like “Woah, I want to go even further.” Move to more traditional forms of media I guess. I was already not posting as much content as I used to, and then it shut down and I was like, “Alright, it’s gone for good now.”
If Vine came back tomorrow would you be on the app?
Hell yeah. Yeah, I don’t have like a “Oh, I’m too good for it now” attitude. I think Vine was awesome and if it comes back it’s going to be just as fun you know.
One of the problems Viners had with Vine was the lack of monetization. Did you make any money off Vine?
I actually didn’t. No one really made money from Vine. We went to Miami for this thing for them, for Vine, and they gave us these $150 Visa gift card things. It’s not like Vine was paying me every month, like 40 fucking grand. But I feel like there are a million ways to make money if you just like make funny shit online. The money will come. So yeah, it kinda sucked that it wasn’t monetized or anything. But are we here to make money or are we here to make content?
Was it stressful being on a platform that you knew could end any day? And now to suddenly have it come back? How does that affect you?
You know when you break up with someone or hook up with them and then you never talk to them again and then they come back in your life, it’s like that. I don’t know if it’s going to be the same. I really hope it’s going to be the same thing. But if they have these new features, like a monetizing aspect — I honestly haven’t heard anything. Anyone that I’ve talked to, I’ve been like “do you know any inside information?”. No one I think really knows alot.
Yeah, there’s not much information out there about it. We don’t really know things like if your followers will be reinstated. Would you go back if you have to start at ground zero?
Honestly, yeah. All that stuff doesn’t matter to me anymore. Yeah I don’t give a shit about followers. They’re always going to be there. If you make good shit they’ll come. But yeah I think if it’s a clean slate I think that could be fun as hell too, let’s start over.
What would you improve with V2? Should it stay at 6 seconds?
Yeah, I feel like that’s the sexiest part about it. It’s this one thing that’s never going to change. Honestly, I feel where they left off was at a good point. They had worked out so much good shit, like you could add your own songs to the videos, take audio clips from other peoples vines. They implemented the zoom in thing. They did a bunch of shit, it was actually really good towards the end so I think if they do that. I don’t know though, I don’t even know if it’s going to look the same.
Is it going to be hard for you to get back into the format of Vine and making those six second videos?
Hell no! Oh I’m ready, I’m so ready. I don’t think they’re ready for me. I’m going to post like 30 videos a day. It’s just super easy, Vine doesn’t take a lot of planning. Little six second videos are really easy to manage. I can’t formulate like a script or storyboard. Some of these YouTubers are like out of control, it’s like a real fucking production, like a real Hollywood thing. I’m like “Damn, I thought we were just making a funny video for the internet.” That’s why I like Vine.
VICE: Where were you at when Vine shut down, as a Viner?
Brandon: I was towards the tail end of it. I didn’t lose interest in it, I had just sort of run out of things to say on it. Because I wanted to say a lot of things and do a lot of things, like sketches and stuff, but I was losing steam. What I decided, because the format was so short, is that I should start doing things longer form. I should just like write something, and I started to write and it was like “this is turning into a movie.” So I was writing a movie while Vine was close to finishing. So the idea of writing a movie was so much more exciting to me, so towards the tail end I was just sort of doing that.
Why do you think the OG Vine flopped? Was it the audience? Was it creators?
I think it had to do with both. Vine was huge back in 2013 to 2015, it was pretty huge, and then I guess the audience was like, “This format, there’s not much you can do with it.” And also, the creators on Vine, which was the whole reason Vine took off, a lot of them left to do other things. There’s only so much you can do with that format. It was a brilliant format to tell a joke, because you tell the joke and it's done and then it loops, and sometimes it gets funnier as you keep on watching it. But I feel like that initial spark of making a Vine had started to wane with a lot of creators.
Do you think you’d still be on Vine if it was around right now?
I think that got me into Vine was watching other viners make them. I got creatively inspired by them because they were making content that was funny and cool. I think the only way for me to get back on if Vine were to come back—because the part of my brain is so gone, the part that used to think of Vine ideas—the only way I could back in is to see other Viners make cool stuff. But if Vine came out again and they were like “okay you have to make the first vine” I would not know what to do.
What does V2 need to get right?
From a monetization standpoint, I think if they started to pay creators like YouTube does, I feel like people will start making Vines for the wrong reasons. Not that they didn’t already do that with the first Vine, because that’s what a lot of bigger Viners did with brand deals and stuff. But I think that with the new one if they were to monetize I don’t know if that would be beneficial. But at the same time on the other side of that is everyone’s got to eat. It’s hard to be a viner full time. On the creative side of it, I don’t think they should change anything. I don’t think anything should change when it comes to the making of a Vine. All the stuff they had was pretty perfect—the 6.5 seconds, the looping. The looping was the thing that made it so unique and cool.
You mentioned in one of your tweets that the Vine community was “toxic,” what do you mean by that?
It was just toxic in the sense that it seemed like everybody was hating on everybody else for two reasons—for numbers, and for ego. There was also this thing going around where big viners would steal ideas from little viners. That’s alleged, but still it made the little viners more angry. There was just a lot of anger and toxicity just on both sides. It made the app less fun to me.
We don’t know much about V2, has anyone from Vine reached out to you?
No, when Vine shut down all Viners were kept in the dark and now that it’s coming back we’re all still being kept in the dark.
Yeah, not much besides the tweets.
He’s being really vague with it. He released a logo that looks like it was made on Microsoft Paint.
VICE: How’d you feel when Vine shut down initially?
Ray: Well, I was one of the OGs back in 2013 to start off Vine. After that, after the three year span, there were waves of Viners. There was that first wave of Viners that blew up and realized there’s monetization on it, so we had to move on to something else. Then came waves and waves of Viners and the app just started deteriorating. I knew a year before it “died” that it was going to die. So I just decided to do my own thing. It’s interesting to see that they're bringing Vine back and it won’t be under twitter.
So would you ever return to Vine?
I mean yeah I would return to see how it is, to see what’s different compared to the old Vine. But they need to really give us an incentive to come back. If they want us to start posting, we can starting posting but give us an incentive—we blew up that first app. Help us a bit. The guy made millions of dollars doing this and we didn’t see a cent from the app. We had to get the money from other companies, we brought in the companies like Coca-Cola and McDonalds. That wasn’t through Vine, the numbers helped, but it wasn’t Vine. I realized a year before it died, I knew it was going to die. They need a way to monetize.
How did you know it was going to die? What pointed that out for you?
It was oversaturated. You could see it in the engagements, you could see new people. It’s not the same—before it was a community. People loved it, people enjoyed posting. Now it’s come to a point where this is going to be in competition with other apps that are trying to be the next Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat, you know. The benefit of V2 is that it’s a version of an old popular app, so it’ll get that initial push. But they’re going to get people wanting to become that so called “Viner” instead of just using the app for fun. When we first started Vine, the OGs, we did it because we had fun and it was these creative six seconds. Now people just want that fame, it’s like “I want to be a Viner now,” “I want to be a YouTuber, a vlogger because this person’s doing it and they’re making this much money.” It’s still, in my opinion, oversaturated. I don’t doubt that it’ll be big, but how long it’ll stay big—I don’t know.
Do you think they should reinstate peoples followers?
100 percent. They’d have to work something out with Twitter because Twitter still owns Vine. You can still see the number of loops I have on my Twitter account. So I think what Dom’s doing is something completely new, but a second version of it. I don’t know how he’s going to pull it off but I do have my fingers crossed.
Do you think people are going to consider you a Viner for the rest of your life?
I think some people do, some people see me as an artist, some people see me as a YouTuber. It’s a mix. It’s all about what platform the creator puts their energy into. There are alot of social media outlets that have reached out to me, and I think other Viners can vouch for this, but a lot of app companies are reaching out and paying us to post on their social media. So if V2 is going to be something like that, I’m on board. It sucks because I gained 1.5 million followers on Vine and it was gone. I knew once I hit a million I saw a downfall.
If you didn’t get those 1.5 million followers back would you go back?
I’d still use the app and go on with my life. My opinion though—I don’t think it’ll last unless they monetize it and focus on the creators. And they should really shed light on the OG creators that brought Vine up to another level. It took them three years to get a meeting with all the Canadian viners, three years till I finally saw a face that worked at Vine. It took them three years.
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