WeTransfer Moves Toward File Transfer as a Microservice

It shouldn’t be news that enterprise file storage, sync, and sharing software and services (EFSS) have largely become a commodity. Prices continue to fall, in part because providers’ storage costs are still decreasing. More importantly, their cost to actually transfer a file has always been negligible, even with the application of strong encryption.
With costs low and decreasing, it’s fair to ask which of the aspects of file storage, sync, and sharing creates enough value for customers that providers can charge for the service. When you stop and think about it, the sharing or transfer of the file has always been the action that the rest of the bundled offer hangs on, especially for cloud-based services. A file can’t be stored on a provider’s servers until a copy has been transferred there. Similarly, changes to files must be transferred to keep copies in sync. The vast majority of the value proposition clearly lies in the transfer (sharing) of the file.
So it makes sense for the file transfer element to be the focal point for providers’ monetization strategies. If you accept that premise, then the next logical conclusion to be made is that file transfer can be monetized as a stand-alone service. In today’s world, that service would be built and licensed as a microservice, which can be used in any application that can call a RESTful API.
WeTransfer, a company based in Amsterdam (despite claiming San Francisco as its headquarters), has announced today the first step toward the creation of such a commercially-available file transfer microservice. A new partnership makes WeTransfer’s file transfer service an option (alongside Dropbox) for delivering photos and videos purchased from Getty Image’s iStock library. WeTransfer works in the background while the customer remains in iStock.
WeTransfer has exposed its file transfer API to Getty Images only at this point, but will be able strike up similar partnerships with other providers of graphics services. Of course, WeTransfer could also license API access to any developer looking to incorporate file transfer into an application. While it isn’t clear from their statement today if and when that will happen, the possibility is very real and quite compelling.
It’s important to note that both Box and Dropbox have made their file sharing APIs commercially available to developers for several months now, so WeTransfer is playing catch up in this regard. However, WeTransfer has emphasized file sharing almost exclusively since its founding in 2009 as a web-based service that only stores a file being shared for seven days before deleting it from their servers. Dropbox, on the other hand, originally was popular because of its simple-but-effective sync feature, and Box was initially perceived as a cloud-based storage service.
The potential market for file transfer microservices is so young and large that no provider has a clear advantage at this point. The recent nullification of the Safe Harbor agreement (PDF) between the European Union and the United States also presents a significant challenge to file services vendors that provide file storage for a global and multinational customer base. If WeTransfer emphasizes its legacy as an easy-to-use, dependable file transfer-only service with its newly-created microservice, it could gain a larger share of the market and expand well beyond its current niche of creative professional customers.

Medium hires its first head of content advertising

Medium has hired someone to develop its native advertising partnerships, the first such role for the company. As Mathew Ingram previously reported, the blog company is expanding its content advertising, publishing sponsored posts that look similar to regular Medium stories. Riddhi Shah, the new hire who will oversee these efforts, will hold the title “Branded Content Lead.” (Disclosure: Shah and I interned together at The Nation four years ago.)

For Medium, bringing on its first content advertising manager is a significant move. It shows the blogging company is shifting gears, starting to prioritize revenue as it moves into its fourth year. (Medium did not respond to a request for comment sent  Thursday.)

Befitting its part publisher identity, Medium is turning to someone with a more traditional New York media background, instead of tech or business, to lead the charge. Prior to joining Medium, Shah was the Editorial Director of branded content for The Huffington Post. She worked with companies like Chipotle and TED, who advertised on particular HuffPo sections. For example, Chipotle sponsored a “Food for Thought” page as it attempted to remake itself as an environmentally and ethically conscious company.

Shah was uniquely suited for the position because she worked as a journalist for eight years prior, reporting for a variety of publications in India and the U.S. That background made it easier for her to pitch brands potential story ideas they could sponsor. Medium’s hope is that she’ll bring similar brand negotiation skills to the blogging application.

As Mathew covered, Medium wants native advertising to become a key source of funding. Even before hiring Shah, Medium already started lightly experimenting with it, launching a travel vertical called Gone, by Marriott Hotels, and a design section called Re:form, by BMW.

These stories are labeled as being “presented” by these brands, although they’re not necessarily about the companies themselves. For example, Marriott paid the expenses for Medium writers to travel to Haiti and report on the evolution of business there since the massive 2010 earthquake. You can read Mathew’s piece for a good take on the journalism ethics considerations.

From a business perspective, content advertising is well-suited for design-centric Medium. It can avoid ugly, distracting banner ads and reap more worth for brands by helping them subtly associate with certain causes or ideas.

Google launches Contributor, a crowdfunding tool for publishers

Google is launching a new service for websites called Contributor, which allows users to sign up and pay anywhere from $1 to $3 a month to sites that they visit frequently. In return for contributing, they won’t see any Google ads on those sites

Here’s why the labels really want a stake in SoundCloud

SoundCloud is reportedly negotiating with major labels, offering them an equity stake and per-play fees in exchange for being able to use their music. This means the service is about to copy YouTube’s licensing strategy.