Ryan Hoover, Startup Edition, Product Hunt

Read what else Ryan Hoover is reading for work

Quibb lets you share what you're reading for work. Use Quibb to share news about your industry, discuss what matters, and see what colleagues are reading.

Our mission is to connect professionals over business news and informed commentary — targeting every industry, profession, and geography.

Likes Comments
Director of Marketing at Playerize

Yep, I think I'd pay $5-15/month depending on how exclusive it felt - I see a ton of value out of communities that do a great job of keeping quality high and exclusivity as a core component.

I literally said to my girlfriend last night: "I'm loving Quibb. I'm loving it so much I'm nervous." There is a short list of apps that I feel were stripped from me due to a) acquisition and shut down or b) quality downturn as a consequence of growth. Thinkfuse is the most recent - I'm still looking for another Thinkfuse (and have half a mind to built it myself because it was so useful to me).

I don't want to be the grumpy goose or anything but...

Asking people if they're willing to pay for something is generally a terrible idea. People have no idea what they're willing to pay for until it comes time to whip out the credit card. This is one situation where qualitative feedback will almost always mislead you.

The only way to test whether or not people pay for Quibb (or any other product) is to start asking for payments.

Charging people to use Quibb might work. Or it might not. And none of us truly know whether or not we'd pay for it until we're given the opportunity.

Director of Marketing at Playerize

Very good point. Keep in mind this isn't Quibb asking.

Startup Edition, Product Hunt

I completely agree and had this in mind when I posted the question (even to myself). I thought it might make for an interesting conversation though. :)

Reply · Tweet ·

The problem with subscriptions isn't seeing if *anyone* would pay but rather the aggregate number of people who pay. And in nearly every case that is so much lower than what advertisers are willing to pay to reach that audience. Charging for communities also introduces choke points you don't want to exist.

Besides printed media like newspapers and magazines only charged to partially recover the printing and distribution costs and the margin comes from advertising.

Cable television is the only medium that has really successfully melded both.

News/media has also only ever been a step 1 business. Techcrunch makes 90%+ of their revenue from events (step 1 get the audience, step 2 get a few of them to come to a conference). Newspapers were a stepping stone to winning classified marketplaces until the Internet came along.

My guess is that Quibb will make most of its money like any other trade publication/network does: Big sponsorships at live events where advertisers seem to place so much value.

With that said, the really interesting possibilities might come from a twitter style professional network if Quibb's able to jump from the startup world to other professional areas successfully. And that way it's less of a replacement for Techcrunch and more a clean representation of professional social graphs (although that's essentially what I use Twitter for now).

Quibb, Uber

I wrote this comment on whether Facebook will ever charge, on Quora, but it applies to other network businesses (like Quibb) as well:

Charging people a monthly fee is completely counter to the value of the service. The power of Facebook is in the network, and how many engaged people are on it. Each new person that joins Facebook makes it nonlinearly more valuable. As a result, it's more likely they'd pay people (aka subsidize the service) to get as many people to join as possible.

After they've built out this network, it becomes trivial for them to monetize by "renting out" the value of this network to advertisers, app developers, and others.

A monthly fee is great for single-user utility apps, it matches well with the value prop of selling someone a hammer. It also matches well with selling a standalone product like a social game. Networks are completely different.

I feel we're missing the point here if we think of subscription purely as a revenue model for Quibb. Subscription, for a community, is more than a revenue model, it's product strategy.

A community like Quibb is built on network effects. The moment you start charging for access, you're changing the product.

The argument for a subscription-only access to a community is usually screening for quality. Angie's List uses subscription as a model to protect quality. Payment is a way to curate who gets access to the community. Does Quibb need that? No! Quibb already has a brilliant invite-only and human-moderated access built in to protect quality.

So subscription is clearly not about quality. In fact, we already have a better filter than payment to protect quality.

How would subscription-only access change Quibb. Quibb has some form of cross-side network effects. The better the content created by the creators, the more the value for those who just feed off the news feed.

Hence, the core value for the product is built by the content creators (and the commenters). If we've already got a good thing going there, one rule-of-thumb I'd use to monetize is not to mess with it. Our monetization strategy should not:
1) Alter the dynamics for creators (and commenters)
2) Lead to any form of lowering of content creation

One might say if you don't want to monetize creators, charge consumers. Sounds simple but it sets the network effects off-balance again.
Because of cross-side network effects, consumption encourages creators. Hence, more consumers lead to better audience for creators. The subscription model shouldn't take out the consumer value to creators.

I am not trying to offer a silver bullet here of what works. All I'm stating is that the monetization model should not affect the network effects that have already been created on the platform. Subscription could very well do that.

For all his brilliance, this is what Dalton Caldwell and App.net fail to realize. For communities, subscription-only access is not a philosophy to be nice to developers or a revenue model to test how much users value the service. Subscription-only access is a product decision. It changes your product.

Co-Founder at edshelf

I love Quibb and have utmost respect for Sandi, but in all honesty, I wouldn't pay for Quibb, nor any similar service. There are too many free alternatives. I suspect I am in the majority here.

However, if I knew there was a fervent group of users here who are also a part of my customer base, I would pay for the opportunity to reach them. I don't necessarily mean text & banner ads. But maybe sponsored links, a way to message all those who click through a sponsored link, targeted on-site and in-email messaging, etc.

I'm in agreement with Mike. I'm not in the group of people who paid for App.net. I guess I'm just so used to not paying for consumer services all these years that I'm inclined to just spend my time elsewhere if I were prompted to pay. If Sandi were to put up a paywall for Quibb, I might pay out of a "help-an-entrepreneur-I-like" mentality rather than a "I-would-pay-for-this-service" mentality. :)

Editor-in-Chief at Quibb

Super thoughtful feedback, thanks everyone. And thanks Ryan for posting!

I thought it would be interesting to share this - an old screenshot of the Quibb application page that actually had a 'paid membership' option (http://cl.ly/image/3B34440Q0t2m1n3m3I14) of $20/mo. It was not at all a well run test, I was just curious what would happen. There was no clear value demonstrated to show 'what am i signing up for? why would i pay for this? ...what is quibb?!?'.
Zero people selected the paid option :)
If anything, it caused some confusion as people were leery to sign up, afraid that they might be forced to pay if they didn't contribute content. At the time (June), Quibb was just friends testing the product, but I kept the application page this way for part of July as new people/non-acquaintances signed up, eventually removing the membership options sometime later that month (I think, not sure exactly when it was removed).

Reply · Tweet ·
Platform at N3TWORK

I wouldn't pay for access to the Quibb network, for reasons other people mentioned. But right now, if I want to extract value out of the Quibb network, I have to sort through all of the posts myself (I only really care about gaming / mobile). Would I pay for access to a pre-sorted set of links / discussions around the topics I care about most, from thought leaders in my field? Maybe.

Reply · Tweet ·
Scribbler at BringAbout

I would pay, so long as the community stayed vibrant and engaged. I paid for app.net, but ended up not using it because it wasn't part of my workflow and I kept forgetting about it. Since Quibb sits in my browser bar, I don't forget about it. I think between $5-10/mo would be reasonable.

Reply · Tweet ·
Scout Ventures, Dozen Digital

Agree with others that charging for it would change the product. The value I get from Quibb is certainly currently above $10/month, but knowing how this paywall would affect the product and network in the future, I may be reluctant.

Re: monetization, I personally think topic based content structure will be key. Web advertisers mostly look for purchasing intent or granular interest targeting. Purchasing intent will be tough to mine here (as it is mostly everywhere except search engines), but interest targeting would be natural. For example, a startup like Parse would be interested generally in advertising to this community, but they would be even more interested if they could target and place ads against people with an explicit interest in mobile development or against content specifically discussing mobile development. Which is why I think content structure, tagging, etc, could be key. I would also like this from a user standpoint, so that I can see posts/conversations on certain topics that are most relevant to me. As my network on here grows, its becoming a bit more noisy (though still very high quality generally :).

Automation Engineer at Counsyl

I was asked to comment so I'll do that real quick: No, I wouldn't pay for Quibb in its current state, but could imagine paying for it in future. Right now the main reason I wouldn't pay is that the content shared on Quibb already comes to me through different channels. I usually read Quibb in form of the daily email summary, and by the time that arrives I have alread the articles that interest me elsewhere (RSS reader, Hackernews, Twitter <-- note: none of them is paid). Once Quibb actually helps me discover content relevant to my interests I would consider paying for it.

Reply · Tweet ·

I love Quibb, but I too would not pay for it. Partly due to an atavistic streak from my previous life as a journalist, I only pay for original content. There are so many communities and aggregators that if Quibb went away, I would be sad, and then immediately switch to other sources--the "good enough" threshold is crowded with options. Whereas if the New York Times or the New Yorker went away, I would be bereft. There is no replacement for either, and the world would be a poorer, less well informed place without them, as would I.

I'd pay for The Awl, or even Gawker (gotten a hell of a lot better recently) as well as the Ancien Régime stuff I love. I've paid for content from individual bloggers--Andrew Sullivan, etc. I put a lot of value on original content, and professional content, though I love blogs and pro-am writers. I value communities and aggregators too, but not enough to pay for them, given the myriad options.

Reply · Tweet ·

Others have covered the issue of subscription affecting the product itself, so I'll just focus on my own personal answer and some context for that answer.

If it were a situation where my trial period were expiring today, then no, I wouldn't pay for access. The deciding factor for me is that Quibb just hasn't (yet, perhaps) worked its way into my own personal routine.

For "outgoing," I either save links with my own personal notes, email them to a specific group of people to discuss, or will share via twitter/tumblr/etc. if I just want to toss them out for consideration. While I've seen interesting discussion happening on Quibb, that by itself hasn't been enough to get me to change my habits.

For "incoming," the standard sources (Twitter, hacker news, direct shares, etc.) generally serve me pretty well. I'm sure I miss interesting stuff, but I don't worry about it too much. I am, no matter what, going to miss some stuff, and Quibb hasn't yet given me a "wow, I need to check here more often than I check [something else]" moment.

And one other thing comes to mind: perhaps because I'm neither fish nor fowl professionally, I find that a surprising amount of useful information and feedback comes to me from sources or relationships that fall well outside the "professional" context, and I'm a little reluctant to circumscribe certain discussions using that yardstick.

Currently, I also would not pay for a subscription. I thoroughly enjoy Quibb and frequent it daily, but I still need my content curated further. Like Facebook and Twitter, the refinement process starts and ends with the user. On Facebook and Twitter, I actively unfollow and de-friend numerous people to further refine who and what comes across my feed. Comparing Quibb to Pandora, it takes time to filter the songs thrown at you, and to eventually obtain that polished station. Like Pandora, Twitter, and Facebook, one needs to find the sound through the noise by selecting whose comments and posts you enjoy, and eliminating (nothing personal) the ones that do not interest you.

Reply · Tweet ·
Product Manager at Pinterest

It's funny, but I think if you had asked me a few months ago, before I had met any Quibbers in person, my answer would have probably been no, for many of the reasons articulated already (too many other "good enough" aggregators, not used to paying for consumer web products, etc.). But now that I've actually met other members IRL and formed substantive connections, I'm even less inclined to pay. It's like making a new friend and then being asked to pay a fee to continue the friendship :-P

Reply · Tweet ·
VP Marketing at BabbaCo

This has been pretty well argued, but one thing I don't think anyone has mentioned - a local co-op of sorts. Given the type of network Sandi is building (intimate, influential - poster notwithstanding), I would pay to be part of a local group that gets together semi-regularly for discussion/networking/beer. I think we could probably chase each other down with some effort on LinkedIn, Angel List, or other social networks, but there would be real value if Quibb really lowered the barrier and enabled us to turn our virtual connections into personal ones.

Reply · Tweet ·

I'd pay for Quibb -- no question.

My reasons are mostly selfish, though. :) I don't want Quibb to have to rely on network effects for sustainability. I'd rather it grow into something like The WELL instead of something like Quora.

Reply · Tweet ·
Seed Investor at Scout Ventures

There's an argument that privately owned platforms do better than public ones because the private owners can "internalize" externalities. That's really just another way to say what Andrew already said. In some instances, it makes sense for platform owners to subsidize new users because the externalities are so huge.

However, it's important the platform owners know the externalities are positive. For example, Jim Shook mentions his network is getting a bit noisy. That's actually a negative externality and unless you can reduce it through other means (e.g. platform UI), you should internalize it by taxing growth at the margins.

Would I pay for Quibb? It depends on what you are selling me. What I see in the comments are some people assuming the product to be sold is content, others assuming it's community. If it's content, I probably would not pay. If it's community, it depends on the benefits.

It's hard for me not to see Gerson Lerhman Group's expert network as a relevant case study here. Interestingly, they have a product called Hightable (fka G+) that's "a private community that connects like-minded professionals to talk about shared problems. Top applicants will be invited to join" (https://www.hightable.com/)

Benefits listed are:
Get introductions to colleagues best suited to offer advice on important business decisions
Help other interesting business leaders
Engage in private online and offline conversations

Great point, John! Curation of participation and access in the Country Club model works great when you have a compelling proposition to defend the gating. E.g. Communities like GLG have a good legacy to leverage when they launch HighTable while new ones like CarbonNYC (connecting multi-millionaires) have a clear value proposition and a niche market to target.

Doing so without a compelling proposition, the way App.net has done it, makes no sense. I think the point to note is that it's the proposition that helps you 'internalize' externalities, not the curation in itself.

Country Club models work very well when post-admission curation costs are very high and quality of connection and interaction are the key factors driving decisions to join.

Reply · Tweet ·
Product Designer at Scribd

I wouldn't pay either, or at least for the basic features of quibb, especially if I had to apply to get in first. Rather than pay to read, if quibb was developed more and had some kind of "premium features", there is a possibility of paying. Although at this point, I don't really have any ideas for what those features would be. Although I do like Eric's idea of pre-sorted links/discussions about topics I care about from thought leaders in a particular field.

A random thought: you can have a virtual currency system. You get points for every post/comment you make, which you can end up saving to "buy" one of the "premium features" as an alternative to paying actual money for the feature. Then you might be able to get more engagement with people in the community, especially from cheapskate lurkers like me (in my defense, it's because I don't have as much time to read elsewhere, so quibb has been really nice in just getting all the important articles to my email).

Reply · Tweet ·
Board / Advisor at Playphone

This has been well discussed, my 2 cents is that I think it is a bit too early to think of monetization and business models for Quibb. There's a lot of value in the community that is being built here, but feel it still has quite some ways to go before a possible monetization strategy can be considered. I love subscription businesses - but there could potentially be a bigger play here.

Reply · Tweet ·
Co-founder and CEO at Denki

I wouldn't hesitate to pay for Quibb because it solves an important problem for me better than any other service I know of: namely, "how can I create a high-quality, expertly curated digest of the most innovative thinking on modern business practices".

Interestingly, while the value of Quibb as a business may increase with the number of users on its network, the value to myself as a user increases with the ability to tune my feed to the rate and relevance of articles I find most comfortable. I actually valued Quibb more when the number of users was lower because my feed felt less overwhelming. So while I would happily pay for Quibb "as is", I'd pay more for a suite of rule-based tools that allowed me to easily manage my feed.

In terms of how much I'd pay, I wouldn't blink at $10/mo because it's already exceeding that value in what I'm receiving from it right now, and the chances of getting more from me would increase steadily with my ability to tailor my feed to my own particular preferences.

Would $50/mo be out of the question for my ideal solution? Maybe as a personal user, but as a professional or corporate user probably not - *if* it was delivering the right solution.

Bram Kanstein, We Are Off The Record / Startup Stash Bram Kanstein
We Are Off The Record / Startup Stash
Erik Torenberg, Hustler at Product Hunt Erik Torenberg
Hustler at Product Hunt
Tiffany Zhong, BD at Product Hunt Tiffany Zhong
BD at Product Hunt