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pivot #180

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chadwhitacre opened this Issue Apr 10, 2015 · 109 comments

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chadwhitacre commented Apr 10, 2015

Reticketing from gratipay/gratipay.com#67 (comment).

I'm starting to think of this whole process as a chance to clarify our product, refocus on open culture—open-source projects, open products, hackerspaces, cooperatives, etc., shifting the focus from tipping individuals to paying projects, with individuals behind the scenes splitting the money. I have in mind Braintree's advice a few years ago (above at gratipay/gratipay.com#67 (comment)):

[N]arrow the focus, i.e., explicitly target open source developers for the first phase of buildout. If and when that is proven stable we can adjust our account to expand further.

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techtonik commented Apr 10, 2015

My thinks that transparency and openness are the main features of Gratipay. No other company can have this level of transparency, so we can greatly help open source projects by providing a transparent funding channel where people who are donating can opt-in to be listed on project pages etc.

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chadwhitacre commented Apr 10, 2015

Clarity is healthy for a product. We've got an over-broad "save the world" mentality whereas Patreon just wants to get YouTubers paid:

The goal of Patreon, and the goal of—okay, how do I say this without sounding like a jerk?—the goal of Patreon is not to change the mindset of the world or bring crowdfunding ... we don't have high ambitions. I'm trying to have artists make a living here. My goal is to help all these content creators who have all these fans—who can fill freaking basketball stadiums full of their fans ... Why aren't they making a living?

As Linus goes on to point out, this does change the world. It's a pretty classic business situation. Patreon gets to change the world because of their singular pragmatic focus, whereas we don't get to because of our pie-in-the-sky dissipation.

Right now we've got a really muddy product:

1-w_2p0maqinrmiccup1esig

Who are we for? What are we doing? In rewriting our Product docs I ended up rewriting our Audience docs and I arrived at these two primary customers:

  1. People who want to tip their friends and family.
  2. People who want to run an open company.

On this ticket I'm saying we have to pick one or the other.

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chadwhitacre commented Apr 10, 2015

We paid (a relative lot of money) for a survey about number 1, and 76% of Americans are interested in it, with 52% able to identity at least one person they'd give to. Yet I think we have to pick number 2, because small feel-good tips aren't enough to sustain an economy. We're onto something big and interesting with Teams. Let's double down on that.

I propose that we abandon (1) and focus on (2).

  • Phase out individuals giving to individuals.
  • Curate receivers based on their relevance to open culture.

Gratipay is sustainable crowdfunding for open culture: open-source projects, open products, hackerspaces, and cooperatives.

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tshepang commented Apr 10, 2015

What do you mean by "Curate receivers"?

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techtonik commented Apr 10, 2015

How about we write a few user stories as a cartoon and give people a choice to guide our decision?

For any business the biggest benefit is to provide unique proposal to the market. How are we different from Patreon? How are we different from Flattr? From Bitcoin?

For me the stories is the start of the dialogue with the audience. We are talking about economy, but the product drawn above is just a tool to transfer money. Let's see how it works with two groups.

Friend to friend

Money transfers from friend to friend and from relative to relative is an easy business. People know each other, we know they know each other, so there is no legal problems. It is not the same as transferring money from buyer to seller, because in this case we are becoming a payment platform. And that means a lot of regulations (know your customer, taxes, laws, etc.). With F2F we just require people to be friends and like each other.

Open culture and teams

Open culture is mostly driven by volunteers, in their free time. It is very hard to change that dynamics, and many realize that there is no incentive to pay for something that is open and free if resources are limited. Only the experts can value this work, and they still depend on services that are being sold on the market. Few are paid through governmental taxes and grants. This is the current economy. For the alternative economy, we need not only to transfer money, but also provide a quality metrics about how the economy works. Covering full cycle of discover -> get -> use -> thank including the visibility into the process why paying is important for economy and where is the border of sustainability. Gratipay may provide a real life tool for testing Knowledge Economy and Circular Economy models based on real ability of people to contribute. For that, the product needs to be enhanced from just a tool for transferring money, to a tool that allows to isolate the different kinds of resources and track how these resources are distributed around.

For both of these purposes, the key value that Gratipay may provide is visualization and visibility into the economy process. Current tweet that n indviduals exchanges x resources is just a reflection of current economy model that we've mirrored, but it is just a start into what can be visualized.

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chadwhitacre commented Apr 10, 2015

What do you mean by "Curate receivers"?

I mean that we would turn away receivers that don't fit certain criteria.

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chadwhitacre commented Apr 10, 2015

For any business the biggest benefit is to provide unique proposal to the market.

Yes!

How are we different from Patreon? How are we different from Flattr? From Bitcoin?

Good questions. We're different from Patreon and Flattr because we're focused on open culture, whereas they are focused on content creators. We're different from bitcoin because we're operating at a higher level of abstraction (bitcoin is merely a currency/"currency").

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chadwhitacre commented Apr 10, 2015

I mean that we would turn away receivers that don't fit certain criteria.

This begs the crucial question, of course, "What criteria?"

Short answer: "Open __________."

Long answer is long ...

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chadwhitacre commented Apr 10, 2015

"Open __________."

I envision narrowing our focus such that we serve open projects. Modal examples would be an open-source project, an open product, or a real-world (geographically bound) cooperative such as a hackerspace. I want to encourage "open work," this idea that I shouldn't need permission in order to work. Why are jobs scarce when work is abundant? That sort of thing.

So I'm actually thinking that we would heighten the difference between individuals and projects on Gratipay, requiring projects that sign up to select an option:

  • open-source project
  • open product
  • cooperative

We would turn away projects that fall outside of these categories.

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chadwhitacre commented Apr 10, 2015

Individuals would be able to give to projects (customer) and take from projects (contractor) and maybe receive from projects (employee), but individuals would not be able to directly receive tips from other individuals anymore.

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chadwhitacre commented Apr 10, 2015

We could also require every project to describe how interested individuals can start doing work for the project, and what compensation looks like. A project could use Gratipay to receive funds or to distribute funds (payroll) or both.

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chadwhitacre commented Apr 10, 2015

take from projects (contractor) and maybe receive from projects (employee)

Well, maybe they're both contractor relationships.

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techtonik commented Apr 10, 2015

First draft of alternative economy and at attempt to compare it to existing one.

alt_economy

Gratipay can bring simplicity and transparency in balancing this nasty thing.

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techtonik commented Apr 10, 2015

I am not sure that "openness" is the only criteria. Flattr supports all projects, not just open. PayPal is used by many. What do we provide to open projects on top of that Flattr and PayPal are capable of?

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techtonik commented Apr 10, 2015

I think that the value we can provide on top of that is stats - this is just how bit.ly survives the traffic and pays its staff.

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techtonik commented Apr 10, 2015

I also would like a platform that can be used as a "match" source for corporations to make the "corporate social responsibility" concept really working. Let people themselves choose what is important for them, who is doing the impact, export that data and let corporations match the donations of individuals that work for them.

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techtonik commented Apr 10, 2015

For example, for my $250 salary, $200 is going into basic needs and only about $10 I can spend on donations. From those $250 that I receive more than 50% is cut only by various taxes, and from $10 that I donate another 50% are cut by taxes and $5 transfer is probably cut in half by bank and payment transfer system. This is the core of the problems with donations.

If corporations will be able to match the flow, the donation could be substracted before I get my $250, so I get $240, but the receiving side could get twice as much as it had before.

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techtonik commented Apr 10, 2015

I am watching a video and I think I now understand your question more. It is not about "what we'd like our product to be in future?". It is about "what mentality does our product support?" meaning "what actual problem it can solve for people right here right now? and who are those people?"

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techtonik commented Apr 10, 2015

I think you're right in that Gratipay does the same stuff for teams that Patreon does for individuals. But Gratipay also encourages openness. I'd say it bring the missing open component to open culture that fuels open source - and it is open funding.

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techtonik commented Apr 10, 2015

I like the stuff that Patreon has art and emotions woven in. I wish open source projects had more art in them. I don't know if money can make this possible.

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chadwhitacre commented Apr 10, 2015

Soulstones! 💎 💃

What do we provide to open project on top of that Flattr and PayPal are capable of?

Good question! We provide:

  • ideological alignment—We are open, too! Hence:
    • open-source code
    • voluntary fees
  • a nice payroll feature
  • cultural change—YouTubers had Flattr and PayPal, but Patreon brought them all together in one place along with their patrons and that snowballed
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kaguillera commented Apr 10, 2015

So basically a "One Stop Shop" for giving to all of your favorite Open Source Projects, Open Products and Cooperatives?

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tshepang commented Apr 10, 2015

This is quite a radical departure from current Gratipay. I don't know where I stand.

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chadwhitacre commented Apr 11, 2015

@kaguillera Hopefully, yes, from the individual giver's point of view. However, we're privileging the open company's point of view. Our primary customer is the person who wants to run an open company (open-source project, open product, hackerspace, etc.) on Gratipay.

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chadwhitacre commented Apr 11, 2015

This is quite a radical departure from current Gratipay.

Yes, it's significant. I'm not sure I would call it a "radical departure" because we're not adding new things to the product, we're rather trimming some things away.

Il semble que la perfection soit atteinte non quand il n'y a plus rien à ajouter, mais quand il n'y a plus rien à retrancher. —Antoine de Saint Exupéry

This was referenced Apr 11, 2015

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chadwhitacre commented Apr 13, 2015

We're basically talking about whitelisting certain activities we want on the platform vs. blacklisting certain we don't. The acceptable use policies of payment processors are blacklists. Kickstarter has a blacklist but they also have a sort of soft whitelist: https://www.kickstarter.com/rules. While we're so small a hard whitelist would be easier to enforce and would prevent us dissipating our energy in trying to support different communities.

chadwhitacre added a commit that referenced this issue May 11, 2015

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chadwhitacre commented May 11, 2015

@mitar I had not seen Salt before, thanks for mentioning it (noted here). I guess the most significant difference is that Salt is not funded on Salt, but rather with a 10% hard fee on withdrawals, whereas Gratipay is still funded on Gratipay.

I really think you should put all your efforts in preserving what you already build instead of pivoting.

Gratipay Teams is something we've already built (so the word "pivot" isn't entirely accurate, but our case seems to fit accepted usage). Here's a history of the Teams feature. We launched Teams in April, 2013, when we were 10 months old. That means Gratipay has been targeting both individuals and teams for two years and one month, or most of our life. I began this ticket by saying that, "we have to pick one or the other," in order to clarify who we are trying to provide value for. @mesheldrake's comments on the time and legal pressures we're under are germane, but ultimately I'm choosing to focus Gratipay on Teams because providing value for leaders of open companies seems to me to be the best way to effect our mission, which is to enable an entire economy of gratitude, generosity, and love.

And with that, I'm going to close out this ticket, because I believe we've covered this issue from a sufficient diversity of perspectives, and we've got a lot of hard work to do this week if we're going to get Gratipay back on track. I will see you on gratipay/gratipay.com#3390! 💃

!m *

@chadwhitacre chadwhitacre referenced this issue May 11, 2015

Closed

Radar 6 #200

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webmaven commented May 11, 2015

@whit537, closing this ticket was premature.

Are they approaching us as an individual? Yes. Are they approaching us as a corporation that fits our criteria? No.

With only a bit of guidance in the UI, They would approach as a one-person-corp.

As you noted, Gratipay LLC itself is such a corporation. All I am saying here is that we should make sure that the next Gratipay (and Chad) aren't turned away, even when they are still at the one-person-corp stage.

This has implications not just for the wording of the criteria, but for the UI, help text, FAQ, etc.

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chadwhitacre commented May 11, 2015

@webmaven I closed this ticket because in my view it was about deciding whether or not to pivot, and that decision is now behind us. I agree that there's plenty more to consider in actually executing this pivot. For that, I've created a "Pivot" milestone, and I've added a ticket to it about reviewing website copy. PRs welcome! :-)

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webmaven commented May 14, 2015

@whit537:

but https://gratipay.com/jeresig/ has moved on from jQuery. Is jeresig a contractor of Gratipay, working on cataloging Japanese woodblock prints? That doesn't seem to make sense. Hmmm ...

Aside from the 'contractor' non-sequitur, I don't see any issues with jeresig receiving support for his work on cataloging Japanese woodblock prints, because although I don't see any direct evidence that the catalog itself is released as open data, the underlying software he wants to fund is certainly open source, and has multiple contributors:
https://github.com/jeresig/ukiyoe-web
https://github.com/jeresig/ukiyoe-models
https://github.com/jeresig/visual-artwork-cluster

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chadwhitacre commented May 22, 2015

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mattbk commented Jul 2, 2015

When considering distance from competitors, also think of https://www.google.com/contributor/welcome/

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