Techstars NY grad Urtak suspends operations

By Erin Griffith , written on September 16, 2013

From The News Desk

Urtak, a New York-based maker of an online polling tool, has suspended its operations. The company announced the move in a blog post this morning, signed by co-founders Aaron Gibralter and Marc Lizoain:

The decision to suspend our service is one that we do not take lightly and that causes us great pain. We have spent more than five years dedicated to the idea of an open and democratic public opinion industry. We intend to continue this fight. While we have no choice but to turn out the lights on Urtak, we can say with certainty that this is not a farewell, but instead a goodbye for now.
Urtak graduated from Techstars NY in 2011, raising $500,000 in seed funding from Vaizra Investments, Quotidian Ventures, Advancit Capital, and Esther Dyson.

The company's WordPress plug-in allowed bloggers and publishers to poll their users with simple yes and no questions. It was a fun tool. I used it on a short blog post about Urtak and native advertising and was surprised to get hundreds of responses as well as dozens of new questions. It really seemed to boost engagement.

I wasn't alone in that experience: 12,000 different publishers, including Sports Illustrated, the Daily Dish, InStyle and Mashable, have also used Utak's tools. (I've embedded one last poll at the bottom of this post for old time's sake.)

Urtak's business model, however, was in its early stages. Earlier this summer, company had announced plans to sell ads that accompanied its survey tools. Urtak's plan was to split revenue from the ads with publishers. One sponsored poll, for example, generated $600 for TheBlaze.

Thumb, which made a similar social polling tool only for mobile, recently sold itself in an acqui-hire deal to a research firm called YPulse.

The company's blog post, titled "Goodbye for now," hints that Urtak isn't completely giving up.

Our current reality is that we must now pause the work of developing and distributing Urtak polls in order to reflect, revise, and relaunch our project on a winning trajectory.
I reached out to the company's founder and will update this post if I get more information. Service will shut down on Sept. 20.

Update: Gibralter and Lizoain have taken jobs at Voxy.

Does Urtak have a chance of surviving?

Illustration by Hallie Bateman