The ancient Greeks had epic poetry about warriors. We modern people have Medium posts from startup founders.
Proof that this is the literary form of our time is that, earlier this week, the travel industry was discussing a Medium post by a founder on the close of her trip-planning startup, Bucket.
At the same time, another recent post has been making the rounds. It's by the founder of Just Landed, a travel app for Apple devices that launched in 2012.
John Grall's Medium post notes that his app -- a tool to help people know when to pick up someone at the airport -- "received high praise in the press, was frequently featured on the App Store by Apple, and was even mentioned on TV a couple of times."
So what went wrong?
Here are some selected quotes:
1. Lack of Innovation in Flight Data
"There are only really a couple of these flight data resellers, there is effectively a duopoly in the flight data business — these companies enjoy significant pricing power and very little outside competition....
"In particular, flight data inaccuracies account for virtually all of the customer complaints that I receive, and the sad truth is that I have really no control over these errors, and little influence to improve the situation.
"For a long time I’ve viewed this as unsustainable, because we are at the mercy of companies who are both indifferent to the needs of our customers, and resisting progress...."
2. Rising Costs
"The cost of running the service has steadily increased over time. While flight data remains expensive, the real source of the cost increases has been adapting to the demise or restructuring of supporting services such as StackMob, UrbanAirship, and Bing Maps that Just Landed previously relied on....
Traffic and mapping data in particular, much of which used to be free, has become quite expensive, and is now tightly controlled by big companies under oppressive Terms of Service...."
3. Deteriorating App Economy
"With well over 2 million apps by now (officially 1.5M as of July 2015), the iTunes App Store is an incredibly crowded place where it’s almost impossible to get noticed. Despite the persistent myth of the app developer millionaire, it’s extremely hard to make a profit — let alone a living — as an iOS app developer.
The Google Play Store is a similar story, except with the added bonus of rampant piracy and a zillion devices to support."
Grall also talks about limited resources particular to his own situation. His full Medium post is worth a read, but its most depressing line and core message is this one:
"There really isn’t gold in them hills, at least not anymore, and independent app development will soon be in sharp decline, if it isn’t already."