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Startup Behind Lady Gaga Fan Site Sold After Going Broke

Backplane, the ambitious startup behind Lady Gaga's fan community LittleMonsters.com, has been sold to new and former investors after running out of money.

Backplane, the ambitious startup backed by Troy Carter and which made a splash at launch with Lady Gaga’s fan community LittleMonsters.com — called, in perhaps a cart-before-the-horse prediction, a “stroke of genius” by this publication four years ago — has been sold to new and former investors after running out of money.

TechCrunch reports that the San Francisco-based company had burned through $18.9 million dollars since launching in 2011. That includes the $12.1 million raised in Series A from venture capitalist heavies like Google Ventures and Founders Fund, plus an additional $5 million later.

A request for comment was not immediately returned.

The early buzz about the startup, aided by Gaga’s strategic partnership, helped pump its valuation to around $40 million at its peak. “But after three years of jet-set founders running two fancy offices, the company had failed to make progress on product,” according to the report.

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Along the way, Backplane rebranded itself as Place and focused on a mobile app of the same name that is essentially a DIY social network-creator. “Our platform allows you to discover your passions and build a community around them,” the site explains.

In addition to hosting Gaga’s Little Monsters fan site, Place is also home to social communities dedicated to topics like animation, Minecraft, pets, foodies and bands like Black Veil Brides and Asking Alexandria. There are reportedly around 15,000 communities in the Place ecosystem.

Investors listed on Backplane/Place’s corporate site include Sequoia, Coca-Cola, Greylock Partners, Tomorrow Ventures, Google Ventures, Cirque Du Soleil, Google’s Eric Schmidt, Founders Fund and Menlo, among others.

After defaulting on loan obligations to lenders, the company shut down and sold its assets to investors who have plans to restart the concept, according to the report. Sold-off assets include patents, software, code, office equipment, trademarks, URLs and various intellectual property. Former CEO Scott Harrison told TechCrunch that while the company transitions to new owners — who have not be identified — “efforts are under way to continue business operation and release a number of new apps.” He said partners like Gaga will now be clients, rather than partners.