Peter Kafka

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Pay Wall Operator Tinypass Grows, Raises $3 Million

great wallTinypass, a startup that’s trying to help online publishers make money by selling their stuff on the Web, has new money of its own.

The New York-based company has raised a $3 million round led by Cascabel Management, a hedge fund with ties to Julian Robertson’s Tiger Management. Last year, the company raised a $1.25 million seed round.

The Tinypass pitch is straightforward: It sells/rents software that helps publishers — most famously, uber-blogger Andrew Sullivan — sell their stuff. Tinypass comes in two flavors: A pay wall that gates stuff off to nonsubscribers, and a version that lets everyone see everything, and sets up what amounts to a very fancy tip jar.

The last time we checked in with Tinypass CEO Trevor Kaufman, in January, he had 45 paying clients. That number is now up to 250, he said. That growth helped him raise the round, along with investors’ increasing confidence in the idea that not all information wants to be free, after all.

“Up until recently, I don’t think VCs were interested in it,” Kaufman said. “But now we’re seeing conversion rates averaging 2.7 percent, and it’s getting easier.”

Tinypass is one of several companies selling pay-wall services. Press+, the largest and best-known, is now reportedly on the block, so it will be interesting to see what the market says about that.

In the meantime, Kaufman said Tinypass is learning more about how to sell bits and bytes that used to be given away. For instance: It looks as though readers are more likely to pay on the weekend. Kaufman said his clients’ sales volume shoots up 50 percent on Saturday and Sunday.


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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work