Bending Spoons, the Parent Company That Now Owns – and Laid Off the Staff of – Filmic

The Impassioned Moderate, a year ago:

News came out a few weeks ago that Bending Spoons, a consumer app studio, raised a massive $340 million round of financing. The press gushed about it: “Hollywood star, tech execs invest in Italian start-up Bending Spoons”, “Ryan Reynolds invests in ‘terrifying’ Italian start-up Bending”. And Ryan himself said things that are just so easy to imagine him saying (a testament to the spectacular job he’s done branding himself): “Their apps enable anyone to become a creative genius with minimum effort. In fact, their products terrify me so much, I had to invest.” (Ironically - or not? - his ad agency is called Maximum Effort…)

The problem? Bending Spoons is the one the most predatory actors on the entire App Store - they’re terrifying in a completely different way.

Bending Spoons’s business model is to buy successful apps, change them to a weekly auto-renewing subscription model that perhaps tricks users into signing up, and using the revenue to buy more apps and repeat the cycle. Filmic, for example, now defaults to a $3/week subscription — over $150/year. To be fair, there’s also a $40/year subscription.

It doesn’t seem like a scam, per se, but Bending Spoons doesn’t seem like a product-driven company. Apps seemingly don’t thrive after acquisition by Bending Spoons — instead, they get bled dry. There are some apps where a weekly subscription makes sense — Flighty comes to mind, for occasional travelers — but a camera app? Feels deceptive.

Bending Spoons is a big company with a lot of revenue that spends a lot of money on App Store and Play Store search ads. (Here’s Tim Cook visiting their office last year.)

Tuesday, 5 December 2023