ChangeTip, an internet app which has facilitated tips over the web via bitcoin for two years, wanted to make it worthwhile for internet users of all varieties to produce quality internet content. “We had a vision for a company that would allow people to spread appreciation on the web for things they enjoyed,” says ChangeTip CEO Nick Sullivan. Now, the experiment is over, and at the end of November ChangeTip will have processed its last bitcoin tip. One of the most recognizable brands in Bitcoin couldn’t find a buyer.
According to Sullivan, more than 100,000 people have used ChangeTip for more than 350,000 tips. His common refrain posits the average tip size at just over $1, though some have used the service to tip mere pennies.
“We gave the Bitcoin movement a good boost, and we’re honored to have been the ‘first bitcoin wallet’ for so many people,” the CEO says.
In April, ChangeTip’s employees were aqui-hired by Airbnb. Most the team works there today.
“Since then, we’ve been searching for the best outcome for ChangeTip, and unfortunately the only remaining option is to shut it down,” says Mr. Sullivan.
ChangeTip will disable tipping functionality at the end of the month. The site will remain in withdrawal-only mode so people may collect funds. “The site will remain up for a number of months to allow users to withdraw funds, and we will be reaching out to users to notify them,” says Mr. Sullivan.
In some ways, ChangeTip was redundant. A centralized service meant to allow people to send bitcoin to each other really doesn’t do much Bitcoin itself can’t do. Ultimately, ChangeTip, like many Bitcoin businesses, wasn’t making enough money to justify the costs of keeping good developers on staff. A 1% fee on transactions which were often so tiny you’d have to squint to see them. ChangeTip also became a security weak point for the average internet user, as the application connected identities across services. For instance, a Facebook user could connect their ChangeTip service to that service, as well as Twitter and Reddit.
San Francisco’s AirBnb purchased ChangeTip in the spring as part of a talent acquisition. ChangeTip made it clear it was shopping the source code around, but apparently it found no buyers. Alongside ChangeTip’s tipping service, it also provided a wallet and exchange. Sullivan made no comments what would happen with the startup’s domain, ‘changetip.com’. Users expressed disappointment to see the service go, but Bitcoin purists (who think Bitcoin and an address can perform ChangeTip’s service just fine) likely won’t miss the service.
“We’ve explored dozens of options thoroughly over the past few months, and came up empty,” says Mr. Sullivan. “It’s time. Among other complications, the monthly costs to maintain the servers, services, and customer support to keep the site running are not insignificant. Furthermore, the potential legal liabilities that may arise make a volunteer effort unappealing.”
That ChangeTip, one of the most recognizable brands in Bitcoin, couldn’t find a buyer might not sit well with many others in the space. Albeit, perhaps just those Bitcoin companies that make negligible margins.