Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Novelty? Sure. Business? Could Be! Stickybits Raises Another $1.6 Million.

Stickybits is the kind of thing that might make more sense if you’re not entirely sober: It’s a funky, practical-joke-from-the-future concept that involves stickers, scannable bar codes and geo-tagging.

It might also be a business. That’s the hope of investors who have just plowed $1.6 million into the six-man operation, which launched a few months ago.

First Round Capital and Lower Case Capital are putting new money into the company, along with existing investors Mitch Kapor and Polaris Venture Partners, who previously invested $300,000. Stickybits is also touting the arrival of semi-celebrity angel investor Chris Sacca.

Again, explaining Stickybits takes a bit of work, and it may be easier if you’re drinking beer instead of coffee. Time.com did a fairly concise job, though: Using an Apple (AAPL) iPhone or Google (GOOG) Android, “users can scan barcodes, attach a piece of information–either a video, note or audio recording–and receive a notification whenever someone else scans the same object. Stickybits also produces unique, one-off barcodes of its own that, when attached to a postcard, for example, add digital memory to static objects.”

So that sort of sounds fun, and there might even be some commercial applications: You can see how marketers might want to play around with tagging the bar codes on the stuff they sell, etc.

Founder Billy Chasen, a graduate of the Betaworks start-up incubator, says the company intends to court those commercial customers, via privileged access to its API, as well as a dashboard they could use to manage their bar codes.

But Chasen says his company won’t be consumed with consumer marketers. “It’s not going to turn into something where it’s just a tool for brands,” he says. “We want it to be fun.”

Cool! In the meantime, Stickybits is generating a couple dollars by selling those personalized barcode stickers. I bet someone has already slapped one on a bong.


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik