More VC Money for FlipBoard

If you own an iPad and haven’t downloaded FlipBoard yet, what the heck are you waiting for?!?! Seriously, this is one of the first apps that I felt truly took advantage of the large real estate that the iPad brought. I’ve written about this one before and I’m going to do it again.

And no, this isn’t all sunshine and freaking rainbows.

The reason that I’m writing this is that recently FlipBoard raised another round of funding with a 200 million dollar valuation.

Excuse me? 200 million?!?!?!

Based on what? Seriously, I’ve gotta know. Do they have a unicorn in their office. Because I could generate some serious fucking cash from a unicorn. Just think of the number of people you could pack into a stadium to see a unicorn. At $5 bucks a pop just to see me parade out the unicorn for 15 minutes would do it. A US tour alone could raise 200 million let alone going international. Its a unicorn after all.

Surely they have major revenue streams pouring in right? Wrong. In the article you will see that at the recent SXSW, the CEO admitting that they have ZERO dollars in revenue so far! You’re supposedly worth 200 million bucks and you’ve made dick so far, seriously, there better be a unicorn in your office.

So what’s the solution? Surely its a solid business plan. The model is basically this:

Right now, the Flipboard app is free and the business plan is advertising and some possible subscription scenarios.

Some ads might get you some money coming in, I won’t deny you that. But seeing as you have been out since July and have made a fat goose egg in 9 months, I wouldn’t hold my breath on that being the ticket to profits. But let’s examine the most important line of that business plan, Right now you can download Flipboard for free. Free as in beer. Free as in air, free as in freedom.

Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot! This is EASILY a $2.99 app.

Let’s have some fun with math shall we. There are 15 million iPads out there to date and that’s before the big iPad2 announcement. So let’s say for arguments sake that since you are a popular app that you are getting 5% of those 15 million users. Just a mere 5%. That’s 750,000 downloads and if you charged $3 would be $2.25 million. After Apple’s 30%, you still have $1.58 million in your pocket. Wow, good thing its free! I’d hate to have that kind of money in my company.

So FlipBoard, let’s see where you get with ads and subscriptions for your app. I really hope you guys make it and can turn this thing into a profitable, sustainable company. You might prove me wrong yet but I’m not holding my breath on this one. Clearly I could be wrong, but I’m not the asshole that left a couple million bucks on the table.

FlipBoard

Recently, I have found FlipBoard for the iPad. If you haven’t seen this product, where have you been. Seriously, they’re even in Newsweek and I just saw them in an iPad ad this evening.

Here’s a demo of the app:

Pretty freaking sweet isn’t it.

And its free! Yes, FREE!

I still don’t get this. Its getting such great buzz around the web, why not charge some money for the app. I get wanting to get a bunch of people using your app and generating growth. But relying on advertisement revenue isn’t always the best plan. Why not get some of that cash in the door now.

Here’s the one problem that I have with FlipBoard (from the newsweek article):

Flipboard hasn’t worked out a business model yet, but plans to put ads next to articles and then share some advertising revenue with publishers. McCue believes that Flipboard on the iPad can deliver better-quality ads than the cheapo ones you see on the Web. And there’s no big rush to make money: Flipboard has raised $10.5 million from venture-capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and other investors. “The first thing you have to do is create an experience that people are excited about and using a lot,” McCue says. That part, it seems, Flipboard has already accomplished.

How in the fuck did these guys get funding? Seriously? Can someone tell me who would invest in a company that hasn’t figured out the business model of how they are going to make money?

This is why we had a dot-bomb back in the early part of the century folks.

I would argue that they do have the model figured out, they just haven’t figured out how to execute on it yet. The app is simply a method of getting ads in front of users and it is only a matter of time until the advertisers come a running. So my argument is, why not make a few bucks along the way selling the great looking by product of your ad platform…the app itself!