Why Online “Tip Jar”-Style Payment Systems Don’t Work

Flattr wants to build a “tip jar” payment system, but history is littered with those who have tried failed. Why don’t online tip jars work? The founder of Tipjoy says it’s hard to get people to pay for things they aren’t already used to paying for.

PixelFish Picks Up Eyespot

Video production company PixelFish announced today that it has acquired recently-shut down online video editing/white-label video company Eyespot. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Founded and angel-funded in 2006, the Torrance, Calif.-based PixelFish has 15 employees and is similar to TurnHere, offering to create low-cost video promotions for small and medium-sized businesses that can be distributed to outlets like Yellowbook.

PixelFish VP of Sales and Marketing Stephen Condon told us in a phone interview that assets like Eyespot’s Mixer tool will allow clients to edit video on their own, doing things like swapping out voiceovers. The acquisition also gives PixelFish access to video publishing and transcoding tools, as well as a number of provisional patents for online video technologies.

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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

Yes, Dilbert, you can keep your day job!

There is a well-established rule in our business that you can’t really found a company part-time. Moonlighting sounds great, but it’s a bit like being half pregnant. At least, this is the conventional wisdom, some of it very well-informed. (Paul Graham: “The number one thing not to do is other things.”)

But I ran across a great post this morning, courtesy of VentureHacks, by repeat founder Tony Wright, who suggests it is possible to launch your founder’s ship with one foot still on the dock — with one caveat: your goal must be to “prove whatever you need to prove as quickly as possible, so you can dive in full-time.”

In Half-Assed Startup: How do I start my company and keep my day job?, Tony offers 7 Tips for how to do this. Tony’s current company, RescueTime, is a Y Combinator shop — which means Graham must agree with some of what Tony has to say! We list Tony’s abbreviated tips below… Read More about Yes, Dilbert, you can keep your day job!