Meta is killing another project of its internal R&D group, the NPE team, following the company’s significant layoffs announced in November, affecting 13% of its workforce. The latest experience to be removed is the social to-do list app called Move, launched last spring, which allowed users to earn points for completing tasks on their personal or group to-do lists. These points, in turn, could be used to customize an alpaca avatar with accessories such as hats, clothes, sunglasses, etc.
The larger idea of Move was to encourage group participation as avatar customization allowed users to see which members were the most productive, based on how many props the user had earned for their alpaca . However, despite the lightweight nature of the app and its potential for to-do list gamification, the company quietly announced that the app would be shutting down in March.
In an update to the iOS app released on Sunday, Move notified its users that the app would be shut down and unavailable after March 2, 2023. As part of this process, new user registrations are now disabled and existing users can log in to download their data before the application is permanently closed.
The closure notice is the latest in a series of closures for Meta’s in-house incubator, NPE Team.
First launched in mid-2019, the group’s initial goal was to create consumer-facing apps that would allow Meta to test new social features and gauge their impact. But the incubator has yet to produce a product successful enough to remain an independent brand. Instead, over the years, Meta’s NPE team has launched and then shut down a number of social experiences, ranging from dating apps to calling apps to meme creators to TikTok competitors, Twitter and Clubhouse, and many more.
More recently, it announced plans to shut down Super, a Cameo-like app aimed at the creator community. That service will shut down in February 2023. Last year, it also killed a video speed-dating service called Sparked and Tuned, a couples app that had just over 900,000 downloads when it shut down.
While many experiments were able to generate data and insights that helped inform further developments at Meta, the initiative seemed incapable of producing resounding successes on its own. As a result, the NPE team began shifting its priorities last year to focus its efforts more globally and make seed investments in other businesses. It has established offices in emerging markets, such as Lagos, Nigeria, and backed startups, such as AI development platform Inworld AI, for example.
With the changes, there are now few active apps developed by the NPE team left on the app stores.
On Google Play, a few NPE Team app URLs are still directly accessible, including a live sports podcasting app Venue and a friend finder called Bump – but they aren’t available through search and don’t have not been updated since 2021 and 2019, respectively. On the App Store, only Move and a music app called BARS remain. However, it is unknown how long BARS is left, as it has not been updated since June 30, 2022.
Across the tech industry, experimental projects at large companies have been hit by widespread layoffs. At Google, for example, the majority of projects within its own internal Area 120 incubator were being liquidated, the company announced earlier this month. Only three projects will move to other parts of Google this year, TechCrunch reported. We understand that the NPE team has also been impacted by Meta’s layoffs, but the company has yet to share a statement on its future plans for this particular organization.
Meta was asked to comment on Move’s closure; we will update if one is provided. However, the app closure notice can be read directly on the app store.
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