ChangeTip The Company Bought, ChangeTip The Product Still For Sale.

Airbnb, a website that allows people to list room for travelers, has acquired the failing micro payment service ChangeTip, according to (source) (archived) ChangeTip managed to raise around 5 million dollars in startup funding from various groups, including Pantera Capital despite building their business model around servicing clueless reddit users. The deal reportedly did not include the ChangeTip codebase, which reddit user nobodybelievesyou described as "a bug riddled reddit bot and a stack of user data" (source)

16 thoughts on “ChangeTip The Company Bought, ChangeTip The Product Still For Sale.

  1. Their main product was marketing bitcoin as "the community", where the value is in the peeple, which we're so in love with, and they are all so mega awesome. No matter how retarded, they are just differently-intelligented people of reddit; your peers, who, by virtue of their existence, are as deserving of the future as you are.

    This interestingly, is a product, separate from the most Amazingest Tipbot of Retardia, which didn't amount to anthing else than the excuse ("helping the needy"). I dunno whether 5 million pieces of toilet paper still mean anything in VCland, but it's something.

    Now all the other "direct economy", "sharing economy", "juntos somos más economy" scams want a bit of this sauce, because they perceive it as valuable, and I'd sort of agree with them; at least valuable in the sense that can it be milked for more toilet paper while supplies last. We're such equals, now gimme your wallet.

    As much as political correctness sucks, it's still a perfectly functional means of wealth extraction from the stupid. Everyone trusts Pirate because he's nice. And in the end, whether the scammed are VCs, users, community, peers, or angels doesn't make that much of a difference. Their toilet paper is perfectly fungible.

  2. It would be interesting to discover exactly why they failed to capture the imagination of Twitter users (for example). Putting aside what anyone's opinion on Bitcoin should be as a tool with inherent limitations, it would be a fascinating read to get a glimpse inside the motivations of Twitter users when confronted with Change Tip. For anyone interested in building a business, it would be a worthwhile study.

    A large amount of money was put into Change Tip, and none of the things the money was spent on helped their product get mass adoption. The design of the website didn't help, and neither did adding a slew of social media services. It was available to everyone for free, but no one bit. Why?

    User experience studies are an obvious first port of call if adoption is not happening. This should have been done before any website improvements or any software development or GUI design. They already had a fully working platform for Twitter, and that should have been enough pending a full scientific study of who and why and where people use Change Tip.

    We already know that the smoothness of graphical interfaces doesn't have anything to do with success; Craigslist is still bare bones and wildly popular, so we can exclude the design as a factor. Something else was missing from Change Tip, and it isn't immediately obvious what it is.

    Anyone can sit back and hindsight armchair quarterback this, but that isn't at all useful. What is useful is a real analysis with real users and data to see what the actual picture is. Anything that doesn't bear fruit that can be worked with isn't useful. The people who have the right ideas that fit the market are prospering, like BitGo. That makes them the winners; they design the software, put Bitcoin into it and make a huge profit.

    Money is the power that matters. Its through money that you can build software, companies, and tools, and ultimately protect yourself and your "community" wherever it is or however its constituted. In the end, its those men that matter; the men who write and release software (that gets used by millions), the people who build profitable companies and the people have a direct impact on a large scale, like WhatsApp.

    Its easy to dismiss WhatsApp's users, but what the company that owns them has done is spread the protection of Public Key Encryption in such a way that it is normal. That protection then automatically extends to anyone who uses GPG as the core of their society. Normalizing the idea of GPG is crucial to protecting communities that want to stay private.

    Change Tip may have got their formula wrong, but their mission made sense. Anyone who wants to use Bitcoin in whatever capacity, needs to be able to do so in an environment where doing so is not viewed as suspicious or criminal; it needs to be normalized. Unless you have your own country with your own police under your control, and an army to protect you, you are at the mercy of the State and its ignorant (literally) minions who can arrest you at any time on the most flimsy of pretexts.

    No GPG signature can protect anyone from a fat violent thug with a badge. Logically, we are all better off if everyone is using all encryption tools and raw Bitcoin. If its normal to do so, the likelihood of it being made illegal is greatly reduced. For these reasons I mourn Change Tip. They tried to do something very difficult and beneficial to everyone, and their failure doesn't help anyone.

    • If you think that the idiocy peddled by the bezzle artists has any relation to actual GPG, you must be smoking something strong. (Hint: slapping a GPG or PGP label on a product does not make it pgptronic.)

      In how many of these proggies does the user have sole control of the private key? (And if a private key is touched by a closed-source or vendor-autoupdatable binary, it is not in the sole control of the user)

  3. At least with ChangeTip it wasn't free to reward posts, like "karma". Perhaps it would have made sense if upvotes were expensive.

  4. I think we discussed this somewhere long ago. You still seem to think that "mass adoption" is the final measure of success, and that any company that makes bitcoin "more like Paypal" has a valuable product, because "everyone needs bitcoin to become normal, so it's not banned by the self-called powers that be". Turns out, that isn't worth much in the end. That specific everyone means nothing.

    I also don't think any Twitter success would have meant anything their Reddit success didn't, or that spending more money purchasing metrics (mass adoption) would have made any difference, either.

    There might be market for bitcoin-denominated fiat, which can provide instant and cheap transactions; for instance I recall using Linden Dollars specifically to dodge PayPal fees and limitations a few years ago, and the demand for bitcoin-linked fiat to that end could be very real in the future. However, if anything can be learned from ChangeTip's fate is the unsurprising observation that Reddit-successful doesn't amount to anything. It's the new Twitter-famous.

    BTW, what's that large-scale impact of WhatsApp? Seems much like the large-scale impact of MySpace and AOL combined. :D These companies are either selling a scam or being a scam, and the fact that some of them manage to survive for a while or even get funded (in toilet paper) is not newsworthy in a world of shitty print-on-demand money.

    • re: large scale impact: ergo data mining, as in, if you are not paying for it, you are teh product.

      But true them cash burning ventures are junk nonetheless, VCs gotta VC all the fiat generously provided with QEs and make america great again.

      • Doesn't help any that anyone can hop on github and make a crappy changetip clone with their own flavour-of-the-month altcoin.

        • La culpa no es del chancho.

          Anyone can poo on github, yet eating their shit is not mandatory. I don't see how the poo on gh hurts you more than the burgers in McD which you don't eat.

          On the contrary: having a place where everyone can go poo is a feature in the sense that while apes are there, they aren't shitting in other places simultaneously. So as long as no actual people ever has to deal with them I don't see what damage is done. Problem is when it spills over. But raising barriers of entry to landfill won't help. Better to make a non-landfill to begin with.

        • Doesn't help any that anyone can hop on github and make a crappy changetip clone with their own flavour-of-the-month altcoin.

          Doesnt help who? And if you wanted an answer to this "problem" what would you do? Control who can write software and post it anywhere? What exactly is it that you are saying?

          Why do you care that other people are experimenting, scamming and playing around with software that you don't use? What difference does it make to you? There will never ever be a world where there are no scammers, so why spend any energy on it? Its a part of real life, and they always end up in the same way; the scam ends and the people who run it either get destroyed or die.

          Its much much harder to propose and build businesses that help people, run them and profit. Doing any one of those four things would be interesting to read about, rather than "scams" you cant control, no one will listen to your advice about avoiding and you cant, and have no right to shut down.

    • I do not think that mass adoption is the final measure of success. I state very plainly that for Bitcoin use to not be seen as an outlaw activity, it needs to be normalized by being used everywhere by the masses. If this doesn't happen, the mere use of Bitcoin (or GPG for that matter) can draw inordinate attention to you. Anyone who is not mind blind can see this.

      Before mobile phones were used by literally everyone, only business men carried "brick" phones

      if you were seen on the street with one of these and were not a Wall Street type, the immediate assumption was that you were a criminal. Now of course, people without phones are the exception. The same thing should happen to Bitcoin. Everyone should be using it so that it is completely normal and accepted, and draws no attention.

      I am not at all saying that Bitcoin should be "more like PayPal". Pay pal is a bad product. As for the self proclaimed "powers that be" its easy to dismiss them on the comments in Qntra, but much harder to do so in real life, should those authorities decide that you are an enemy of the State.

      You say you don't think purchasing information about how their business model is failing so they can change it to a successful one would have made any difference. Thats interesting. Focus groups are used in many industries so that company owners know they are serving the public correctly. This isn't a novel suggestion at all.

      The large-scale impact of WhatsApp is that many millions of messages are now end to end encrypted. Is it perfectly implemented in such a way that it can never be broken? Have they submitted the source to peer review? Have they made sure that the peas are not touching the mashed potatoes? None of that really matters when we are talking about changing the public perception of encryption and normalizing it so that people expect it by default. It doesn't matter if it is not perfect on the roll out; what matters is the direction of travel towards everything encrypted from nothing encrypted.

      Its easy to throw around the word "scam" over and over again. Its not an interesting criticism and can't count as insightful analysis. The world of "print on demand money", if anyone wants it to go away, needs to be attacked on as many fronts as possible, with as many tools as are to hand. This is being done by companies trying to serve the public en masse. It will never be achieved by shouting, and "winning" in comment squabbles. I think the people behind Change Tip, failure or not, have taken the logical step in the broad view; they have to get Bitcoin into the hands of many people. Even if that idea is wrong, they sought to do it, rather than not do it. Certainly others will learn from their mistakes, and they won't be repeated. Or maybe they will? Who knows.

      All we can say for sure is that the criminal fiat system will never go away by shouting at it. Before Bitcoin, that is all people had. Now they can actually do something about it, if they have the skills, money, will and personality to pull it off. We are certainly better off with people trying to do it (spread Bitcoin and kill fiat) at their own expense rather than act as if Bitcoin didn't even exist. This is all on top of the meed to be able to spend Bitcoin or exchange it, if you have it. Its of no value whatsoever if you can encrypt your email on an air gapped machine and transfer the messages by photographing a QR code so that NO ONE CAN SEE MY EMAIL!… when you do not know anyone who uses GPG to send private mail to. Its only when these tools, GPG and Bitcoin become mass adopted that they take on their maximum value.

    • > "everyone needs bitcoin to become normal, so it's not banned by the self-called powers that be".

      This is a particularly weak argument seeing that "the powers that be" banned smoking, notwitstanding that "it was normal" ; and for that matter the same shitheads that think inept bureaucrats are "powers" that "be" spend the little leisure time they have by going behind dogs and picking up faeces.

      As the Romanian verse goes, mai bine terorist decit cacanar.

      • This is a version of the, "The government can ban anything, so there is no point in even starting", mixed in with a Straw Man. Clearly there are other precedents that show mass adoption of a product makes the sate back away from regulating or forbidding it because it is "normalized" (alcohol, which is already normal, and across the USA now and other jurisdictions for decades, Marijuana consumption), and of course, when talking about ethics, banning smoking and regulating Bitcoin are both unethical on their faces.

        All of this is centred whether or not other people as a class are needed. Anyone who can construct a self contained world for themselves where no one else on Earth is required for their prosperous existence is free to act in a matter that disregards everyone who is alive. Of course, in the matter of money (whether it is Bitcoin or fiat) money has no utility without a market (other people), and that means the "peasants" will always have a utility and a raison d'etre for the "elite" man on his island. Unfortunately, they also have a vote, will support democracy to the death, and are not powerless, hence the theme of my comment.

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