App.net Launches Backer, A Bitcoin-Friendly Crowdfunding Engine For Individual Software Features

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TechCrunch by Greg Kumparak | January 26, 2014

bitcoin-appnet-crowdfunding

As the popularity of crowdfunding grows ever larger, an interesting new trend has started popping up: developers, curious if a new feature is worth adding to their products, are asking interested customers to chip in to cover the costs of development. In other words: if you really want a feature, put your money where your mouth is.

Balanced, a payment service, recently used crowdfunding to support adding a new money sending feature. App.net, a subscription-based/ad-free Twitter alternative which as a whole was born out of a $803,000 crowdfunding campaign, is currently using it to determine if they’ll accept Bitcoin payments on their site.

Related: How FundRazr is Turning Websites into Crowdfunding Platforms 

This morning, App.net announced that they’re opening up the engine they built for their Bitcoin campaign, allowing other companies to use the platform to raise money for individual features. They’re calling the new platform Backer.

app-net-crowdfunding

App.net’s original Backer campaign, currently underway, to determine whether the social network would accept Bitcoin payments for account subscriptions (Photo: App.net)

 

Amongst other things, Backer has two big standout features: developers can choose to accept payment via credit cards or Bitcoin (or both), and open source projects aren’t charged any fees. (If you keep your source locked down, however, there’s a 5% fee taken only if/when your campaign proves successful.)

Related: Protect Yourself From Your Bank

Why build a whole new platform? Why wouldn’t developers just use one of the other, less-specific crowdfunding tools? I asked App.net founder Dalton Caldwell, and here’s what he said:

If you recall, App.net wrote our own crowdfunding tool because the Kickstarter TOS specifically didn’t allow software/service businesses. That is still the case.

The impetus for us building and launching this now was that we were trying to figure out whether or not to accept bitcoin for App.net subscriptions, and every single other startup founder I asked said they were wondering the same thing. If you survey the current tools available, there are none that would work for this. When I asked other founders if they would use something like Backer to decide whether or not they should accept Bitcoin they said “yes”.

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