Yahoo to Donna Users: We’re Dispensing With Your Indispensable App

When Yahoo -- or any big company -- buys your favorite startup, worry.

Incredible Labs — the company behind smart-calendar app Donna — is being acquired by Yahoo. The app is being shut down, and most of the folks who worked on it will join the Yahoo Mail team.

The farewell post on the Donna blog, by Incredible’s Kevin Cheng, follows the standard five-act kabuki of startup acquisition announcements I’ve written about before:

1. Announcement of thrilling acquisition
2. Reiteration of startup’s wildly ambitious founding notion
3, Explanation that either Google or Facebook (or, in this case, Yahoo) is the best place to change the world
4. Acknowledgement (or sometimes non-acknowledgement) that the startup’s product is being discontinued or is going into limbo
5. Expression of heartfelt gratitude to various supporters, usually including the consumers who are losing something they liked

The acquisition isn’t surprising — these days, Yahoo is snapping up interesting little companies with talented crews at a rapid clip. It’s also not a catastrophe. Donna is cool, but it’s in a category crowded with competitors, such as Tempo and Sunrise. Thinning of the herd is inevitable, and there’s obvious potential to incorporate Donna-like features into Yahoo Mail, where hundreds of millions of people could end up benefiting from them.

Still, I’m fascinated by the oddness of Yahoo’s statement on the deal, as quoted by TechCrunch’s Ryan Lawler:

We have reached an agreement to acquire Incredible Labs, the team behind personal assistant app, Donna. In case you haven’t heard of her, Donna’s pretty amazing – she has an immense amount of intellect, she keeps you on time and gives you the information you need, when you need it. For her clients, she’s the ultimate daily habit. When we met with the team from Incredible Labs, it was an immediate fit. As we look to the future, our visions are aligned in that we think technology should be smart enough to think for us. Five team members will join the Communications team in Sunnyvale at deal close, where they will work on Yahoo Mail. The transaction, which is subject to customary closing conditions, is expected to close in the next few days.

Donna is amazing! It’s the ultimate daily habit! We’re killing it!

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