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Hipstamatic axes most of staff to focus on art, creativity

Wasn't really into having employees anyway

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Hipstamatic, the company behind the $1.99 iPhone app that allows jaded scenesters to stylize their digital photos so that they look like snaps recovered from shoeboxes found in their grandmothers' attics, has laid off most of its employees.

The Next Web was first to report that the firm has let go all but five of its core staff, including its designers and engineers.

In a revelation so stunning that Hipstamatic customers are advised to sit down for it, provided the cut of their jeans permits doing so, sources close to the app maker confided that it "hasn't been making enough money."

"Letting people go is never an easy decision," Lucas Buick, the company's CEO and co-founder, wrote in a blog post on Friday. "Yesterday's reduction in staff was the result of endless discussion and debate about what we want our company to look like in the future. It was in no way a reflection of the work ethic or talent of those no longer with us."

Apparently Buick found those employees about as useful as empty cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon, because he writes that by "streamlining our organizational structure," Hipstamatic expects to actually increase the number of updates and new products it ships.

Jonathan Wright, one of the engineers who got the chop, doesn't think so. In Twitter posts on Thursday, he described Hipstagram as a company that has been "spiraling the drain," and said that he and the rest of the team were "totally squandered where we were."

Buick himself admits that the company as "shipped very little in the past nine months."

It also doesn't take a pair of thick-rimmed glasses to see that many of Buick's former customers have strayed away to Instagram, which – backed by the deep pockets of Facebook – has become something like a version of Hipstamatic with more tattoos and a better record collection.

Although Instamatic may be the more successful of the two companies, Hipstamatic came out a year earlier, before making apps was cool. Although Buick says his company will continue making photo apps for mobile devices, these days he's actually kind of over them.

"Over the last year we simply lost our focus. Art and creativity were no longer the center of what we did," he writes. "Hipstamatic was founded as a lifestyle and culture brand that happened to make software. We aren't a typical software company, and our inability to scale and ship became clear."

Buick points out that Hipstamatic's biggest product launch of the year was an iPad magazine called Snap, which he says now boasts over 100,000 subscribers. You probably haven't heard of it. ®

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