Gittip launched just over six months ago, on June 1, 2012. In the first 8 weeks it grew to 151 funders giving $955/wk. Gittip has only added 128 funders and $470/wk in the 23 weeks since, and, in the past 13 weeks, Gittip has only added 6 funders and has lost $117/wk. Interestingly, total users has continued to grow roughly linearly, with bursts in weeks 8 and 16, while funders has flatlined. Why?
I’m aware of three possible explanations:
1. Gittip has saturated the market. Most of the people who are remotely interested in giving money through Gittip are now doing so.
I don’t think this is true, because the number of givers on Gittip is really, really small (279) compared to the number of people who, e.g., are on the Internet (2,450,000,000 [source]). Yes, there will be additional growth when Gittip becomes easier for companies to use, but surely there are more than 279 individuals in the world who “get” Gittip.
2. Gittip has been neglected. According to this explanation, the initial burst of growth in weeks 1 through 8 was due to heavy product development and marketing effort, and the slow growth since then is because this effort fell off.
I think this is part of what’s going on. I left my job at YouGov in week 8 in order to pursue Gittip. I spent the next 22 weeks transitioning to a situation where I can sustainably fund my work on Gittip until I’m fully funded on Gittip itself. I worked on Gittip for 29 hrs/wk before I left my job, and 19 hrs/wk after I left my job through the end of 2012. While I was able to finish Twitter integration during this period, we also got hit with a significant fraud incident, which took up a good deal of time without adding direct value to Gittip users. The most glaring result of this neglect is Gittip’s continued inability to pay out to people without a U.S. bank account.
The reason I spent so little time on Gittip is that I was doing other things: l taught a programming class and I took a philosophy class (these were set in motion before I left my job), I made up for lost time with YouGov, and I searched for new consulting work. Happily, I’ve now made good with YouGov, and we’ve arranged for me to continue as a contractor on an hourly basis. I’m grateful to YouGov, and here in 2013 I’m able to focus on Gittip again.
Moreover, the past three months has made especially clear to me the importance of building a team to build Gittip. I can’t do this by myself. Therefore, Gittip is hiring.
3. The $1 threshold is too high. In week 8, we upped the minimum tip from 25¢ to $1. The thinking at the time was that this would increase the amount of money flowing through the system. It’s possible, though, that it had the opposite effect.
This seems to me a plausible explanation for why the number of users has grown consistently since week 8, while growth in the number of funders and the volume of giving has trailed off. New people are showing up on Gittip, signing up, going to leave a tip, and then balking at the price tag. In the long run I expect to implement a sliding scale, inspired by Humble Bundle. In the short term, I’m going to run an experiment for the month of January: I’ve added back the 25¢ tip amount. If you’ve avoided tipping on Gittip because the price tag is too high, this is your invitation to revisit Gittip and tip someone who inspires you. Thanks! :-)
A Growth Target
My goal is to see Gittip grow an order of magnitude in 2013. That is, I want to see us with 1,000 or more funders giving $10,000 per week or more by the end of this year. The average giving per person right now is about $5, so if that holds we would need to see 2,000 funders to reach $10,000 per week. Can we do it? Who inspires you?
Chad Whitacre is the founder of Gittip.