Meta is killing off yet another project from its in-house R&D group, the NPE Team, following the company’s sizable layoffs announced in November, impacting 13% of its workforce. The latest experiment to be wound down is the social to-do list app called Move, launched last spring, which allowed users to earn points for completing tasks on either their personal or group to-do lists. These points, in turn, could be used to customize an alpaca avatar with accessories like hats, clothing, sunglasses, and more.
Move’s broader idea had been to encourage group participation as the avatar’s customization let users see which members were the most productive, based on how many accessories the user had earned for their alpaca. However, despite the app’s lighthearted nature and potential to gamify to-do lists, the company quietly announced the app will be closing down in March.
In an iOS app update published on Sunday, Move informed its users the app would be shutting down and would no longer be available after March 2, 2023. As a part of this process, new user sign-ups are now disabled and existing users can log in to download their data ahead of the app’s final closure.
The shutdown notice is the latest in a string of closures from Meta’s in-house incubator, NPE Team.
First launched in mid-2019, the group’s original focus had been on building consumer-facing apps that would allow Meta to test out 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 then shuttered a number of social experiments, ranging from dating apps to calling apps to meme-makers to TikTok, Twitter and Clubhouse competitors, and many more.
More recently, it announced its plan to shut down Super, a Cameo-like app aimed at the creator community. That service will close down in February 2023. Last year, it also killed off a video speed-dating service called Sparked and Tuned, an app for couples that had just over 900,000 downloads at the time of its closure.
While many of the experiments may have generated data and insights that helped inform other developments at Meta, the initiative seemed incapable of producing breakout hits on its own. As a result, NPE Team began shifting its priorities last year to focus its efforts more globally and make seed-stage investments in other businesses. It established offices in emerging markets, like Lagos, Nigeria, and backed startups, like the A.I developer platform Inworld AI, for example.
With the changes, there are now few active NPE Team-developed apps left on the app stores.
On Google Play, a couple of NPE Team apps’ URLs are still accessible directly, including a live sports podcasting app Venue, and a friend finder called Bump — but they’re not available through search and have not been updated since 2021 and 2019, respectively. On the App Store, only Move and a music app called BARS remain. It’s unclear how much time BARS has left, however, as it hasn’t been updated since June 30, 2022.
Across the tech industry, experimental projects inside larger companies have been impacted by widespread layoffs. At Google, for example, the majority of projects inside its own in-house incubator Area 120 were being wound down, the company said earlier this month. Only three projects will go on to graduate to other parts of Google this year, TechCrunch had reported. We understand NPE Team was impacted by Meta’s layoffs as well, but the company has not yet shared a statement about its future plans for this org, specifically.
Meta was asked for comment on Move’s closure; we’ll update if one is provided. However, the app’s closure notice can be read directly on the App Store.
Meta is killing Move, another experimental social app from its in-house incubator NPE Team by Sarah Perez originally published on TechCrunch