I launched a tiny Shopify application called Portable a little over three years ago. Portable brought Shopify customer data into your inbox through Rapportive, a very popular Gmail plugin. At its height, Portably only had about 20 active customers in total, but some of those customers included the Wikipedia Foundation, the creators behind the popular web comic Cyanide and Happiness and party rockers LMFAO, which is pretty incredible to me.
I built the first version of Portable in just 8 hours. I was looking for something to do after my startup was winding down and Shopify had just released an API. Because my startup dealt with contacts, I knew a lot about Rapportive and a neat feature they had called raplets, which allowed you to bring custom data to Rapportive.
After a successful beta period, Shopify featured Portable on their blog, which was easily the biggest day in Portable’s history. While Portable has never been a huge money maker, it was the first and only truly successful product I’ve launched. It’s generated over $2000 in revenue since day 1.
Somewhere along the line, Rapportive was acquired by LinkedIn. While for a time, Rapportive stayed mostly the same product it always has was, I knew it was unlikely it would stay that way forever. Over time, more and more features were ripped out of the product. Finally, last month I received an email letting me know that raplets, the technology that powered Portable, would be removed from the product.
While I’m not surprised at these changes, I am sad. Portable was a glimmer of hope after my company went down in flames. It directly led to some contract work which let me pay my rent until I found a new job. It’s the most successful thing I’ve ever made by myself.
When you build your product on top of something like Rapportive, this is the risk you run. I would have been happy to keep Rapportive running as long as people were still willing to pay for it, but that’s not a choice I have. Last week, raplets were unceremoniously removed from the product and Portable had to shut down too.