All posts by 379148kv

Messenger has grown. Now it’s time to monetize it.

Messenger, the free instant messaging service available on iOS, Android and Windows, is becoming more of a big deal. Both WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are currently tied for the first place at one billion active monthly users worldwide.


At first, it seemed as a confusing value proposition by Facebook to push all its users to download a new, additional mobile app for the chat features of Facebook. However, in November 2014 after Mark Zuckerberg justified the decision to force users that use the Facebook app to download Messenger in order to get access to the chat feature of Facebook, it was quite clear that soon, Messenger would start competing with its rivals (eg. WhatsApp – although it is owned by Facebook, Skype) for monthly active users ergo market share.

We saw that the top messaging apps people were using were their own app. These apps that are fast and just focused on messaging. You’re probably messaging people 15 times per day. Having to go into an app and take a bunch of steps to get to messaging is a lot of friction. – Mark Zuckerberg

Messenger isn’t the only ‘extension’ app that Facebook has developed. The social media giant has also developed Facebook Groups, Facebook Pages Manager, Moments by Facebook, Facebook Mentions, Facebook Ads Manager and a couple of additional apps available on Google Play, Windows Store or Apple Store. However, Messenger is currently seems to be the only app that is has created a business model on its own, separate from Facebook. This notion was undoubtedly confirmed when Facebook announced to that you can Sign Up for Messenger without a Facebook account – all you need is a phone number. Additionally, as of yesterday, Messenger has rolled out Messenger Day, the chat app’s new Snapchat stories clone. After Instagram Stories and WhatsApp Status, this is another direct competitive response from the portfolio of companies that Facebook owns, to Snapchats enticing young and audience that watches over 8 billion mobile videos on a daily basis. What a textbook example of platform envelopment – the process by which a platform in one market enters another market by combining its own functionality with the functionality of the target market’s platform features and is leveraged by the existing user base of the platform that is in the process of enveloping.

So what is the actual business model of this (optionally) standalone app?

Mark Zuckerberg is now in the second stage in monetizing Messenger and WhatsApp, however it is being extremely careful not to disrupt the user experience of such an app, which could deem destructive. In this second stage, Messenger has already developed over 33,000 chat bots for businesses. An example of a business owning such a chat bot us ENECO, the Dutch energy supplier that allows you to input your energy meter value via the Messenger app.

Such a feature essentially allows companies to automate certain processes or even customer service tasks within their business and connect with their audience via a more relevant channel. For users, it simplifies tasks, speeds up communication and thus increases the overall convenience. David Marcus, the VP of messaging suggested that Day will “probably” have advertisements in between posts, therefore creating a new cash-inflow source, similarly to that of Snapchat advertisements.

Users of Messenger are better off since they have access to a fast and reliable instant messaging app that is constantly growing with features. Similarly, companies can connect and communicate with users through this app either in person, or using chat bots (for the purpose of automating certain business processes). This can dramatically lower the costs for customer service activities and increase profits by focusing on revenue generating activities.

Additionally, Messenger targets consumers across all demographics that Facebook already does – This can then be leveraged extremely well, especially when introducing new features. However, this does not necessarily mean that Facebook can actually “steal” the particular demographic that its competitors have such as in the case of Snapchat, that currently is a leader in terms of engagement for 13 to 18 year olds.

Given the nature of the app (instant messaging), there will be a lack of conflicts of interest in regards to political or social factors. However, the feature cloning that Messenger is actively engaging in can definitely bring up legal conflicts, particularly with Snapchat. However, till this day Snapchat has not sued Instagram of Facebook – yet.

The Language that Gets People to Give: Phrases that Predict Success on Kickstarter

Crowdfunding and the dynamics behind it have dynamically evolved year-over-year. It is difficult for researchers to study crowdfunding and have the ability to suggest recommendations that will hold valid for more than 6 to 12 months.

A prominent example of this is  the most funded project at the time of the paper written by Mitra & Gilbert (2014) – the Pebble Watch. I won’t go deep into how Pebble achieved this success, especially since it seems that it is the only crowdfunding project that deserves attention and is repeatedly mentioned across the body of research on crowdfunding. Rather, I’d like to point out a couple developments that have occurred since  the year that this paper was published (2014):

1) Pebble went from a valuation of $740 million to less than $40 million

2) There is no more technical support for Pebble, since it’s assets have been acquired by Fitbit.

3) in 2016, Filippo Loretti (the most funded watch project currently) was funded 480.000% while Fitbit was funded “only” 100.000%

This points to two important insights: (1) Having a successful Kickstarter does not guarantee a brand’s success (even in the example of the most funded Kickstarter project which authors present in their introduction as the “status quo”) and (2) There other more interesting numbers that might hint towards why a project is setup in a way towards funding success.

In their paper, Mitra & Gilbert (2014) focus on a particular interest component of Kickstarter campaigns – the phrases used on the project’s page (independent variable) and how it affects a project being successfully funded (dependent binary variable). After presenting past research that has confirmed variables such as including a video (which is now mandatory on Kickstarter) or the size one’s social network having an effect on success of a crowdfunding campaign, the authors delve into exploring whether and how particular language used affects a project’s campaign on crowdfunding platforms.


Below is a breakdown of the strengths and weaknesses of this paper:


First, the authors used a very clear method in identifying which phrases from Kickstarter pages would be assessed. By removing “niche” phrases that were often category-specofic, Mitra & Gilbert were able to compile a list of common general phrases and measure their effect on a project (not) being fully funded.

Second, to avoid the potential distorting effects of confounding variables, the authors included a large variety of control variables – namely 59 Kickstarter variables that were identified as possible predictors of funding. This then allows the authors to identify whether there is a direct correlation between phrases used in Kickstarter campaigns and their eventual funding success.

Third, using big data methodology, the authors engaged in creating a predictive model – one that does not over-fit to the data (since there is a large data set). Using a ten fold cross validation method and expanding the features list until there is no more substantial gain in the explanatory power, they were able to effectively asses the impact of the independent variables on the binary dependent variable.


First, based on the industry observers, the author believes that there will be several crowdfunding sites that will emerge and join ones that are already on the internet. However, such a statement does not say much about the competitive environment of these platforms and that although copycat businesses will evolve, eventually only a one or two will be “prominent,” similarly to what has occurred in the space of social media. To fix this, the authors should focus more on explaining why new emerging crowdfunding sites will be relevant to the space of crowdfunding.

Second, the authors used a binary response variable for their dependent variable. Although this is interesting in general, it does not explore the phenomenon of over funded projects (and how much they got over funded). This particularly related to the aforementioned comparison of Pebble and Filippo Loretti. To fix this, the author could have included % funded as a moderating or mediating variable.

One of the key takeaways from the paper by Mitra & Gilbert (2014) is that reciprocity – the tendency to return a favor after receiving one – plays an important role in persuading potential backers to support a project. Phrases such as mention your, also receive two, we can afford are all examples of reciprocity in action within projects. Other important categorizations of phrases that were found by the authors include scarcity, social proof, social identity, liking and authority.

The theoretical implications of the paper predominantly affect two bodies of research: emerging studies on crowdfunding platforms & computerized text analysis on drawing inferences from real-world examples (in this case, Kickstarter). However, the authors go on explaining that they do not claim the results to fully explain a guaranteed success of a Kickstarter project. They suggest that there is much more research required into additional attributes such as project categories, no. of project updates and pledge levels. Additionally, I would add the following to the list: percentage funded, type of reward stacking, type of video content & presence of voice over in video content, social media advertising (predominantly on Facebook) and the presence of crowdfunding-specific social media agencies (such as Jeloop or The Crowd Mafia) that have a incredibly strong effect on how much a successful project gets funded over the desired goal.


Gurman, M., & Zaleski, O. (2016, December 7). Fitbit Buys Software Assets From Smartwatch Startup Pebble. Retrieved from Bloomberg:

Matas, D. &. (2017, March 05). Redefining Luxury Watches – Filippo Loreti. Retrieved from Kickstarter:

Mitra, T., & Gilbert, E. (2014, February). The language that gets people to give: Phrases that predict success on kickstarter. In Proceedings of the 17th ACM conference on Computer supported cooperative work & social computing (pp. 49-61). ACM.

Unsplash. (2016, March 05). Pexels. Retrieved from Pexels:





Time is money – use Upwork

No matter if you are an entrepreneur, a student, a chef or a CEO – the number of hours you have in a day is fixed. Other than changing the time on your clock, there’s nothing you can do about it. However, you can alter the way in which you spend your time. If time is valuable to you then you are most probably interested in getting the most out of your day. And if that is the case, then you surely must have heard of Upwork. If not, then stop everything you are doing and press play on this video below.

TLDW: Upwork is an online platform for connecting businesses and talent across all industries.

So how does their business model work?

Imagine you have a brilliant idea to start a wristwatch business. You’ve taken care of everything from sales to operations to marketing to HR. However, you still missing a logo. If you have some designer friends, you can ask them to draft something for you. However, you are limited only to those friends and potential referrals & if you ask them to do it for free, you face a risk of their disappointment once they see that your final design isn’t theirs.

Probably not a good idea.

Instead, you sign up on Upwork and create a job post titled “Looking for a graphic designer for my sick new wristwatch project.” After clicking submit, you immediately start receiving requests from multiple freelancers that are fighting for you to accept them. After you choose the one freelancer that fits best in terms of your budget and their expertise, you are ready to proceed with the payment.

Upwork charges both sides of the platform – the client & the freelancer. As a client – you will be charged a 2.75% fee from the total amount that you spend on the freelancer. The freelancer fees start from 5% up to 20% of the total amount.

Not bad, eh? 

Why even use Upwork? 

The system is an efficient and effective tool for both the client and the freelancer. No matter what industry the client or the freelancer come from, they can always utilize this platform effectively due to the powerful matching algorithm.

The clients benefit from:

  • Saving time
  • Saving money
  • Access to a large pool of talent
  • Transparent portfolios of freelancers
  • Efficient tools for tracking progress

while, the freelancers benefit from

  • Additional income
  • Access to a large pool of projects/companies
  • Transparent portfolios of clients

Given that this tool is very user friendly, the investment & costs that both sides of the network incur are quite insignificant:

  • Upwork fees
  • Remote communication (usually the case)
  • Risk of output not meeting standards (usually mitigated)

The relationships created between clients and freelancers work very well, since the platform provides all support for communication (chat & video) for clarification, to hour tracking for monitoring purposes to payment processing for transaction security. By integrating all of these processes, the Institutional Arrangements are managed efficiently.

Since the fundamental idea of this platform is to create new jobs for freelancers, the Institutional Environment is managed depending on the country’s social, political and legal views. A great example of this is the USA, where Donald Trumps policies are aiming to “bring jobs back to America.” This could definitely have an impact on the platform, since the platform connects clients and freelancers globally.

From a societal perspective, there can be similar trouble caused as with the previous example. Although some may perceive outsourcing as the creation of new jobs, others perceive it as having jobs taken away from them as was pointed out in the satirical show South Park.

Politically, Upwork can also cause trouble regarding the discussed issues. Depending on the country & the specific political parties involved, the opinions will vary. If we were to consider an example of republicans versus democrats, we can assume that republicans would be more against the idea of outsourcing jobs abroad while the democrats would support new job creation and potentially even set a minimum wage for freelancers on Upwork within a specific country.



Upwork. (2017, February 16). About us. Retrieved from