In his Wired magazine cover story, “Free! Why $0.00 Is the Future of Business,” Wired editor Chris Anderson wrote: “It’s now clear that practically everything Web technology touches starts down the path to gratis, at least as far as we consumers are concerned.”
Sorry Chris, but free is out again.
Thank economy-wary investors like Sequoia Capital, which terrified its portfolio of startups with a “RIP Good Times” earlier this month. Startups “need to become cash flow positive,” Sequoia declared. They must recognise the “need for profitability.” “Cash is king.”
Sequoia isn’t the only VC firm preaching the precepts of profit, so startups are starting to return to a business concept many thought had faded into the past — asking customers to pay for things. Namely: Pro accounts, plus accounts, premium features, enterprise editions, and white label versions.
This pleases us. Some of our favourite Web companies — Flickr, TypePad, LinkedIn and Smugmug — were born before Google launched AdSense — and they turned to Pro accounts for revenues. They helped launch a wave of innovation on the Web that led some to — at first cleverly, then obnoxiously — say the Internet had iterated into version 2.0.
Here are companies that have launched, are rumoured to be launching, or we expect to launch pro accounts:
Tumblr Plus is coming soon.
What you’ll get: Back in April, Tumblr founder David Karp said there are more than 10 features in the queue, including a tool that allows readers to submit content, more customisable themes and special page layouts. We’re betting Plus users will get unlimited music and photograph storage, too.
How much it’ll cost: We hear something like $5 a month or $60 a year.
Web video tools provider TubeMogul’s premium accounts are already here.
What you’ll get: “tools like viewership demographics, keyword intelligence (which allows measurement of how many videos/views on YouTube mention a given keyword), a data feed, api, mrss upload and more,” says exec David Burch.
How much it costs: “We typically charge $1,000/month,” says Burch.
A pro option for live-streaming site Ustream is rumoured to be under development.
What you’ll get: We don’t know, but probably something close to unlimited streaming and higher resolution.
How much it costs: We don’t know, but probably close the $60 a year Vimeo charges.
File-sharing site Drop.io launched a premium option.
What you’ll get: According to Drop.io, you get: “drop names under 7 characters; storage capacity (up to 25GB); duration (up to 3 years); multiple uses (up to 10).”
How much it costs: $10 per gigabyte per year.
Meetup has organisers.
What you get: Each Meetup group needs to have an “organiser,” who can collect member payments and generally… organise things. How much it costs: $12 to $19 per month.
Vimeo Plus debuted this month.
What you get: More bandwidth, 1,000 HD plays and a “white label” player with domain level privacy controls.
How much it costs: $60 per year.
Twitter cofounder Biz Stone told the Wall Street Journal on Monday that it might charge for premium features in the future. Surprise: He didn’t offer any more details.
Tumblr’s lead developer Marco Arment is also something of an entrepreneur on the side. His most useful creation is Instapaper, a simple bookmarking service hooked to an iPhone App which comes in free and pro versions.
What you get: Tilt scrolling, adjustable fonts “and more!” says the iTunes page.
How much it costs: $9.99
Metrics site Compete.com launched pro accounts in July.
What you get: According to the site,”Compete Pro unlocks exclusive reports and extends data on all compete.com tools!”
How much it costs: $199 to $499 per month.
Video site Veoh has Pro accounts
What you get: From a Veoh forum: “Veoh Pro is a new program, free to sign up for, that in addition to regular Veoh, users have the option of charging for the videos they upload, as well as being able to syndicate those videos to other sites and blogs such as Google Video, YouTube, MySpace, Facebook, Blogger, WordPress, etc., so that you just upload your video to Veoh and we’ll automatically send it to those sites to upload. Additionally, we’ll transcode your videos into iPod format. Also your video will be encoded into a higher quality than the users who aren’t Pro.”
What it costs: Veoh splits revenues with its pro members.
Document publishing platform Issuu announced new premium features yesterday.
What you get: Issuu keeps ads and Issuu branding off your publication.
How much it costs: Reports TechCrunch: $1.10 to $19 per 1,000 publication views.
Video-sharing tools site Magnify launched pro and enterprise offerings in April.
What you get: According to the site, “The Pro product is a customisable video solution for content enthusiasts, online communities and small businesses looking to add video to their websites.”
How much it costs: Pro accounts range from $25 to $160 per month. Enterprise accounts are more.
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