The dysfunction story about Turntable is kind of scary. You make something cool on a shoestring, it works, and then it gets boring for everyone, all of a sudden.
My theory is this is kind of what happened to Foursquare. The ‘game’ doesn’t evolve or improve as more people play it.
But some people solve this problem: they introduce new vectors. Twitter, during it’s explosive 2009 growth, was washed over by mini-games like the hashtag-driven silly phrase games and various special tag uses like $ for stocktwits or just posting pictures via twitpic.
It’s very true of Facebook too – they keep reinventing their fundamental interaction in deliberate ways.
All those giant services probably started with a story like the below (but had to follow these by gutsy moments of re-invention, openness, or plain old good luck).
Alone in New York save for two employees, and eventually just one, Chasen cranked on Turntable with no outside suggestions, no business rationale—nothing but his own vision of a cartoony little concert room where bears and cats played songs together.
The site was ready in May. After TechCrunch wrote about a Turntable listening party Goldstein put together, word spread. Within a month, Turntable had 100,000 registrations.