But in the past two weeks, StumbleUpon has been rolling out features designed to bring the company back into superstardom.
First, they launched some really sweet mobile apps. The iPad app, for example, is fantastic -- as cool to use as Flipboard on the iPad, but with much more intelligent discovery. Non-mobile apps have also been redesigned smartly.
They've added Pinterest-like "lists," and made the service far more image-focused.
In short, StumbleUpon feels suddenly like a hot new startup that's re-defining the social web.
Launched in 2003, MySpace (as all dominant social networks do) took years to rise to dominance. But rise it did, and by 2008 was the undisputed leader in social networking.
Unfortunately for MySpace, however, Facebook happened.
MySpace always had several major problems, including too many ads too soon, and a lack of opportunities for third party companies to build applications.
But the biggest flaw in my opinion was that MySpace was butt-ugly. The anything-goes customization prompted millions of people to transform their profiles into some of the ugliest, most annoying and unreadable pages on the Internet. Which would have been fine in 1998. But in 2008, beautiful minimalism was sweeping the net. The new iOS Apple approach to visual design was suddenly dominant. And the key to that sensibility is locking things down so users (and, in Apple's case, developers) couldn't screw things up, visually speaking.
Year after year, MySpace remained an island of ugly in a rising sea of simplicity.
This week, a new video demo of the upcoming MySpace redesign appears to show something surprising: MySpace has apparently leap-frogged over several generations of user interface design, and is now being called -- wait for it! -- beautiful!
The new MySpace incorporates visual elements of Pinterest, streaming-nugget elements reminiscent of Twitter, and a "sideways timeline" that combines in spirit Facebook’s newish Timeline feature with Google's iOS app for Google+.
The site appears to be targeting "artists," both musical and otherwise, allowing content creators to track and interact with fans.
The new MySpace offers exactly the kinds of new features and functions that can bring the company back to life.
It's unlikely that MySpace will ever become the number-one all-purpose social network. But they could succeed very nicely as the social network of choice for certain types of artists and their fans, and especially as a much needed discovery engine for music.
Startups are exciting. But so are re-starts.
I'm really excited about the prospects for resurgent Yahoo, StumbleUpon and MySpace.
All three of these companies are suddenly taking their loyal users and combining that asset with new thinking, new designs and new technology to stage bold comebacks.
And I think they might just succeed this time.