In a recent post, I described a conversation I had with my father concerning invitations and if there was a business opportunity in the making by perhaps, selling these invitations. Here is what was discussed.
I asked my dad if he thought that perhaps, there would be some sort of business opportunity surrounding invitations to these new services. Allow people to bid on an invite or pay a low price. My father responded by saying “people won’t pay for something that is free, or that they could obtain by some other means.”
Turns out, my father was wrong. While browsing around on Ebay, I came across a few auctions in which the item being sold was an invitation to GrandCentral, the new service which was acquired by Google. Here is a link to an auction that has already ended as you can see, there are other auctions taking place, asking for as much as $10.00 for the invitation.
Now I can’t wait to tell my dad that people are willing to pay money for something that really has no monetary value. Would you be willing to pay for an invite?
Sam Harrelson has put together a nice post detailing the buzz surrounding the GrandCentral acquisition. Sam discusses the activity with GrandCentral before the acquisition and then after. Once GrandCentral was acquired, Google then locked down the system to new users by making it an invite only service. Because of the acquisition and the move to an invitation only service, the interest in GrandCentral has skyrocketed.
Sam makes an excellent analogy between GrandCentral and the recently launched service, Pownce. Pownce, Kevin Rose’s new startup has become the hot commodity to be invited to. Everyone and their mother is seemingly still trying to grab an invite to the service, although it is not necessarily brand new.
Whats the moral behind this story? If your a Web 2.0 startup, lock down your service. Invite a couple of big name web sites to review your service and give them the ability to hand out a number of invites. Those who read the reviews will then have an opportunity to sign up to your service and in return, invite their friends. You can see where this is going. Although the invitation only technique only works for a prolonged period of time, it is hard to argue against it’s effectiveness. I suppose being part of a locked down community gives users the impression that they are special, that they are among a group of elitists.
I asked my dad if he thought that perhaps there would be some sort of business opportunity surrounding invitations to these new services. Allow people to bid on an invite or pay a low price. My father responded by saying “people won’t pay for something that is free, or that they could obtain by some other means.”
Whatever the case may be, the strategy of being an invite only service in the beginning appears to be a winning one!