Brizzly is shutting the cave door

It’s never easy to be the bearer of bad news. Luckily, there’s plenty of good news along with it.

First: Brizzly is shutting down at the end of this month

I know this stands in stark contrast to the last post I wrote, wherein I said that “kill Brizzly” wasn’t on our “to do” list heading into our new roles at AOL. That statement still holds true, though. We didn’t plan to get rid of the service we spent the prior year or so building, but we knew there was a possibility it might not make sense to continue work on it. Sure enough, once we set to the task at hand—improving the hell out of AIM—we had little to no time to work on Brizzly, and it became clear that the new things we’re working on are far more worth our time and attention.

From the beginning, Brizzly was an experiment. We said, “Hey, what if there was a better way to view content from Twitter?” So we built the first version of Brizzly, adding link expansion, infinite scrolling, inline photo and video display, and many of the features that you Brizzly users know and love. Then we thought, “Hey, what if we did the same thing for Facebook?” Well, we tried that, anyway. Then Jason wanted to build on Twitter’s trending topics by adding user-submitted and -edited explanations, links and photos to the things people were talking about—a sort of “Wikipedia for right now.” Then we built Brizzly Picnics as a way to communicate amongst ourselves more easily, which we quickly decided was worth sharing with the world.

We had many more ideas of what Brizzly could be or do, but this experiment has run its course. The good news here, though, is that those ideas haven’t been locked away.

Last month, we released the next generation of AIM. While it doesn’t do the core thing Brizzly does (show you all of the tweets from people you follow), it does have vastly improved group chat with media expansion—a lot like Brizzly Picnics. It also tells you when people have mentioned, liked, followed, or commented on your Twitter, Facebook or Instagram content, or when you have new Gmail or AOL Mail messages.

We’re very fortunate to have had you as a fan and user, and we’re even more fortunate to be working on software that will incorporate many ideas we’ve had for how to solve existing communication problems.

We truly, gratefully appreciate all of the people who checked out Brizzly, and especially those of you who’ve grown attached to it and evangelized on our behalf. We built Brizzly for you, and we built the new and better AIM for you, too.

Our best advice from here on out is to find yourself a nice new Twitter client (Twitter itself has done some nice things), follow @aim on Twitter or like the AIM Facebook page, and wear your seat belt.


Grant (and Jason and Zack)
Part of the Team Formerly Known as Thing Labs


Big news! Thing Labs is merging with AOL!

We are pleased to announce that as of today, Thing Labs is merging with AOL. This deal has been in the works for a little while, and we’ve been dying to tell you all, but today it’s official!


First things first: Brizzly is sticking around. Of course anything can happen in the future, but nowhere on our list of things to do is there a “KILL BRIZZLY” item. For more info about this and other questions you might have, see our handy FAQ below:

Whoah, why are you selling to AOL?
Why not?!?! They have some great products, excellent brand recognition, and lots of people who are doing interesting things. This obviously gives us a boost in resources and huge opportunities to make the web even more awesome.

But that’s how my grandmother connects to the internet.
Well, thank goodness for them, then. How else would you get those pictures of dogs and cats doing adorable things or whatever?

Seriously, they have this cool product you’ve probably heard of called AIM. And a bunch of interesting websites (Engadget, Urlesque, TMZ, Joystiq, and many more) that you may or may not know are owned by AOL.

What will you be doing over there?
AOL has asked us to take on a couple of things, including heading up AIM and Lifestream. We’ll also continue working on Brizzly, including some version of Picnics and the Brizzly Guide.

What will happen to Brizzly?
Some or all parts of Brizzly will live on at AOL. One of the reasons we joined forces is that AOL recognized the great products we’d built and saw places where Brizzly, the Brizzly Guide and especially Picnics could tie in with some of their efforts.

What about the bear?
First of all, he has a name (Phineas.) We hope Phineas will stick around. He’s adorable. Plus he takes care of our office mouse problem.

Do bears really eat mice?
Yes. Phineas also likes Pop Chips.

Will you be staying in San Francisco?
Sometimes. AOL just moved most of its Bay Area operations to a fancy new space in Palo Alto, where we’ll spend most of our time. But we still have a lease on a place in San Francisco, and darned if we’re going to skip any opportunities to hang out on the roof deck.

Can I come work with you?
If you do cool things that line up with our needs, sure! Check out our jobs page to submit your information.


New Brizzly features: new posting form, Foursquare updates and more!

We updated Brizzly with several new features today! Check ‘em out:

New posting form

We’ve moved the posting form away from the top of the screen, into the top of the left-hand navigation so it can be accessed from any Twitter screen. We also added easy access to your drafts and Brizzly photos while posting.


See your friends’ Foursquare check-ins from within Brizzly. Just click the “more” link at the top of the page to add your Foursquare account info.


New camera control feature

By default, the webcam feature takes your picture and flips it around to the “right” way, but now you can flip it back if you want a mirror image.

Collapsible menus

If you have a lot of saved searches or Picnics, your navigation menu and the Trends & news section don’t stay in place when you scroll down the page (in the Twitter tab). Now, you can collapse any of the navigation sections on the left side of the screen by clicking on the title (i.e. “Picnics” or “Lists”). Just click again to expand.

Twitter-style retweets

Ever since Twitter announced its new retweet style last year, we heard a split response from users who wanted us to support this and users who liked “classic” retweets (as they became known). Today, we added the option to retweet via the new method, but you can still do a “classic” retweet by clicking “comment.” This allows you to edit the tweet as before. We’re still displaying retweets the way we always have.


Update to Brizzly for iPhone

Thanks to everyone who’s downloaded and used our iPhone app. We’ve just released Brizzly for iPhone v1.1 (called “Brizzly for Twitter” in the iTunes App Store), featuring the following bug fixes:

  • Avatars load correctly in iOS 4.0.x
  • Fix for stale/old tweets in timeline on initial load
  • Fixed problems when rotating the in-app browser
  • Removed account selector from posting form
  • Fixed font rendering when viewing individual tweets
  • Accounts for shortened link length in character counter
  • Fixed rendering of tweets containing long unbroken text
  • "Post" button deactivates when character count is -1 instead of 0
It’s still free, so update or download today and check it out!

Brizzly Guide video introduction

We’ve told you about Brizzly Guide before, but a picture is worth 1,000 words, and a video is worth roughly 1,000 pictures (depending on your screen resolution). So enjoy our million-word explanation of Brizzly Guide here:


Brizzly Picnics: something different (and better)

It would be pretentious to call Brizzly Picnics revolutionary. We risk selling ourselves short if we call it a group chat interface. Somewhere in the middle is the truth: Brizzly Picnics are a new way of sharing with the people you know.

You know as well as we do that there are a lot of ways to share information online these days. Twitter, Facebook, blogs, email, Skype and countless others provide many opportunities for this kind of thing. So why build a new one? Because it’s better. How?

Brizzly Picnics are easy

A picnic is a simple, casual place to have lightweight conversations and share things (a photo, video, link, comment) with your friends, family or coworkers.

Brizzly Picnics are fun

Photos, videos and tweets automatically show inline, making for a great reading experience. Videos play right inline, so you don’t have to click away. A good picnic feels like a great dinner party (only you can show people that YouTube clip instead of describing it).

Brizzly Picnics are private

You choose who’s in your picnic. There’s a list of who’s there, so there’s no surprises. There’s no need to worry about fiddling with privacy settings.

You can have a different Brizzly Picnic for every group that matters to you

Have one picnic for your family, one for your close friends, another for your softball team – don’t worry about whether or not EVERYONE will find your latest link interesting. What are you waiting for? Go start a picnic now!


WordPress.com acquires Plinky

Plinky logo

The Thing Labs team is excited to announce that our friends at Automattic, makers of WordPress.com, are the proud new owners of Plinky! We’re happy to hand off Plinky to a company that knows and loves the world of blogging and content creation.

When we launched Plinky as “a service that makes it easy for you to create inspired content on the web" we had high hopes and quickly gained many faithful daily contributors. We’re eager to see how Plinky can continue to inspire in the days to come.

Not only are we excited that the original idea will live on in some form with people we trust, but it means we at Thing Labs can continue to focus on Brizzly, which lets you talk and share with the people important to you.

We’re proud of what we built with Plinky, and we’re glad it can continue to exist in some form at WordPress.com.


Brizzly Pics: Celebrity Edition

Why who’s this handsome gentleman sitting in the lap of this other gentleman? Sweet success @aplusk

Why, it’s Ashton Kutcher, who snapped this pic of himself and David Letterman when he was on “The Late Show” recently, and posted it…to Brizzly! Personally, we’re Letterman kind of people around here, so when our man Ashton got a Brizzly screenshot on the late-night king’s show, we were ever so proud. See the clip here.


Brizzly shirts available now

A common question we hear when people lay eyes on our mascot, Phineas T. Brizzly, is “OMG DO YOU HAVE SHIRTS?” Until now, we had to say, “No.”

Now we’re able to say a proud and excited “Yes!” Head to the Brizzly Gear shop to get your very own Brizzly shirt today!


More new features: camera control, themes, emoji and iPad view

More Brizzly goodness comes your way today with the following new features:

Camera control
Take pictures with a built-in or USB webcam (like Apple’s iSight) and post with Brizzly. Click the camera icon to try it. You can even zoom in and apply color filters or crazy effects!

camera control 01camera control 02

You might notice that things look a little different around here. For starters, we’ve updated the default theme to a nice blue one that we think is a little easier on the eyes. Go to your settings page for three other options – let us know what you think! themes 01

Along with the new themes comes emoji! Sometimes words alone cannot express the sentiment you’re trying to convey…but a smiley with hearts for eyes can convey that sentiment perfectly. (Emoji is the Japanese term for picture characters. They can be seen on Brizzly and in mobile devices like the iPhone, but may not show on Twitter’s website or in Facebook yet.)emoji 01

iPad interface
You can use the Brizzly iPhone app on your iPad, but for the best experience, we recommend simply visiting brizzly.com in Safari on your iPad. We’ve optimized the interface for maximum viewing and tweeting pleasure. (If for some reason you don’t like it, visit and bookmark http://brizzly.com/?ui=web and you’ll see the standard Brizzly web interface.)ipad 02