Tipjoy’s Founders on Passing the Hat


Ivan and Abby Kirigin founded their startup, Tipjoy, to give consumers of free content a new way to pay for the stuff they really like: by leaving a tip. While the idea sounds simple enough, what the Kirigins want to do is actually far more ambitious than their quaint company name suggests. With Tipjoy they aim to exploit the commercial power of micropayments, a hip, Long Tail business concept in which consumers pay for things in tiny increments.

Until now, micropayment systems have proven most useful for philanthropy. No more, say the Kirigins. The couple (they are married) believes Tipjoy’s version of micropayments, which involves consumers paying for products in increments as small as 10 cents, but paying — and here is their innovation — voluntarily, is powerful enough to help Tipjoy become the next PayPal.

The Kirigins developed Tipjoy’s model as participants in Y Combinator’s winter 2008 startup class. Below the couple shares some lessons learned through YC’s collective iteration process. Read More about Tipjoy’s Founders on Passing the Hat

Digg, Facebook Connect to Headline at f8Con

Updated: Now that Facebook has announced its redesign, which features a new improved news feed, what will Mark Zuckerberg, the enigmatic and somewhat shy CEO of Facebook, announce when he gets on stage at the f8 conference in San Francisco tomorrow, on July23rd? No, I don’t mean a plain ole a platform upgrade.

That is a question haunting many Silicon Valley insiders, especially since there has been a perceptible cooling of investor interest in Facebook applications that fall into the “pointless” category. What’s not helping matters is that senior Facebook executives are downplaying tomorrow’s announcement, saying this is about developers and that nothing new should be expected. Having covered Silicon Valley for a long time, I know that companies use that as a diversionary tactic. Some have speculated that it might be some sort of a payment system. Update: One of my sources tells me, however, that payments won’t be on their announcement agenda.

My sources tell me that the focus of Mark Zuckerberg’s presentation will be mostly on Facebook Connect, a web ID system. It’s essentially a system that enables application and web developers to allow web surfers to sign in to their Facebook identities. The move would highlight Facebook’s desire to become a critical part of the web infrastructure, and moving away from the just-another-social-network image.

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8 Things Sarah Lacy Could Learn From Founders She Covers

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So I was at SXSW this week, where I saw first hand the hilarious debacle of an interview that the lovely (but maybe over-hyped) Business Week reporter, Sarah Lacy, did with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Read here for a short brief on the disaster, in which attendees,

…apparently tired of constant interruptions by Lacy and references to her own projects in the interview, essentially said they weren’t going to sit for such lame questions and demanded to ask their own.

One heckled her to coax “something interesting” out of Zuckerberg — which shouldn’t really be very hard: he is the youngest-ever self-made billionaire in the history of the world! The tweets were even worse.

So all this made me think: a) concerning her interview style, Lacy could learn a thing or two from the founders she (supposedly) spends so much time covering; and b) Lacy would never, ever, make it as a founder. But you know how journalists are these days — so I offer Lacy my “entrepreneurial” tips anyway. She’ll probably start a new media company soon.

1. When bullets fly, there is a time to duck and cover.The adversary has to reload sometime. It’s an honor thing. (You can read about it in history books.) So “Duck the 9’s”, that’s the 9mm stuff — a.k.a armor piercing ammo — and wait for the ebb and flow in the barage. It’ll do.

2. When you’re Captain of a ship taking on water
(i.e., MC of a keynote Q&A going south) don’t demoralize the crew with beatings. Lacy quipped to the crowd: “Do you think you could do better!?” Um, lemme think: … Yeesssss!! Because we actually care about audience. And a founder would never say ‘can you do better?’ when taking on water. The founder would say: “wow last month was really bad. Lets lick our wounds and get our rally going.” BONUS TIP for Lacy: Study Leno when a joke bombs; he’s the master of recovery. Read More about 8 Things Sarah Lacy Could Learn From Founders She Covers

My 10 “Un-Tips” for Starting-Up Right

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I recently read Alex Iskold’s great piece 36 Startup Tips and began thinking that had I read this a year ago, maybe my own startup experience would have been smoother. (I’m a co-founder of Makemesustainable.com.) It is a daunting task to incubate and eventually launch a company. Most of us founders start down this road because of a passion for our subject matter, in addition to any skill set we might (or might not) possess. But the vast majority of us won’t have the resources we need when we need them, no matter how successful we have been in the past. (And if you think you’re different, or doing everything right, be very wary.)

So, I put together this list of 10 “Un-Tips” because although plenty of people are willing to talk about what they did right, very few are willing to talk about what they did wrong. Read More about My 10 “Un-Tips” for Starting-Up Right

Found|LINKS: Mar. 1 – Mar. 7

1) Revenues & Up-selling in a Recession: Related to Larry Chiang’s post this week on the topic, now read Level up for features instead of freemium?, in which Andrew Chen writes: “Everyone is familiar with freemium models – that is, make it free for most people, but in exchange for the advanced features, make people pay for the package.”

1a) Also see this Ostatic post that asks, Recession: A Boon for Open Source?


2) Business Models & Economics :
We’ve written about the power of running your business on “mostly free apps”. Now read this month’s WIRED cover story, Free! Why $0.00 Is the Future of Business, by editor Chris Anderson. See also TechDirtDaily’s worthwhile essay on why the nay sayers are just whining: Saying You Can’t Compete With Free Is Saying You Can’t Compete Period

3) Funding & When to Sell?: This is evergreen question was addressed by VC blogger Fred Wilson after rumors that Digg is looking for an exit now, not later. If you don’t want to run your business for 7-10 years, Wilson writes, then “sell when the buyers are knocking down the door.” He also invokes a long-held stockbrokers’ rule of thumb: that money is made on ‘the buy,’ not ‘the sell.’ (PS: He thinks Rose should sell.)

4) Strategy & Innovation: Web3.0 newbies will get a great crash course by scrolling through this 14-slide presentation on What’s Next on the Web? Web Technology Trends for 2008 and Beyond by ReadWriteWeb Editor Richard MacManus, given at the Media08 event in Sydney. Make sure you click an extra time on slide #14, for more RWW resources, including additional slideshows on, 2008 Tech Trends & Predictions, and Web2.0 Business Models.

5) Creativity and Idea Management: This post from Life Optimizer is called How to Find Good Ideas for Business & Life.” Best tip is #2: “Bring a capture tool wherever you go…” See also: 4 Simple Ways to Never Lose Your Ideas.

Yahoo Aims to Keep Mobile Content in OnePlace

Yahoo onePlace screenshotYahoo has unveiled a new personalized mobile web content management utility called onePlace. The tool, which will be launched in the second quarter of 2008 as part of Yahoo Go 3.0 (a previously announced mobile application that enables easy access to existing mobile Yahoo services), will be able to track on mobile devices emails, news feeds, web sites, videos, search queries and more.

This means you’ll be able to manage My Yahoo feeds, stock portfolios, Flickr photos and even keep an eye on YouTube, Digg, Facebook and many other sites. Marking content will be as easy as bookmarking it in a browser, according to a company statement. And all web content will be able to be tagged, allowing disparate items to be categorized in a flexible manner.

If onePlace is user-friendly, it will be a powerful force in mobile content aggregation. With Google and Microsoft starting to ramp up their mobile online offerings, this is one area where Yahoo needs to flex their muscle.

A list of Long Tail b-models

WIRED Editor Chris Anderson, who is also author of the best-selling book, The Long Tail,
recently published a blog post listing various new media b-models, a.k.a, “long tail” b-models where, generally, the content you’re “selling” is free or almost free — and you make money off something else, such as banner ads.
Chris’s point, this time, is that there are now many revenue models for you to consider besides old-school banner ads.

“Think of all the various ways that an audience that is paying attention to your service can be paid for by companies and people who want some of that attention,” he writes, quoting the prolific VC-blogger, Fred Wilson.

Then Anderson lists several of these monetization alternatives. We encourage you to review them — there are lots of opportunities here for enhancing your “operational flexibility” as you prepare your startup for the economy’s downturn. Read More about A list of Long Tail b-models