Why we don't pay for user acquisition

Most startups raise VC money and use it to acquire customers through advertisements that target Internet users based on their interests, past searches, and community memberships.

Why we don't pay for user acquisition

At anytype, there are few things dearer to us than the principle of data ownership.

In our world, decisions regarding where your data resides, who sees it, and how it’s used should reside firmly in the hands of each individual user.

This sounds simple in theory. However, considering the current industry model which powers our tech landscape, it’s anything but ordinary.

There’s no secret that the ‘big’ in big tech was borne through the monetization of our data at scale. By tracking our searches, movements, and likes online, packaging this data as a product, and selling it to advertisers, a trillion dollar behemoth has been forged before our eyes in less than two decades.

The fundamental rejection of this business model is what led us to build anytype. For us, a better Internet means a place where people can browse and create content freely, worrying neither about having their data harvested, nor being haunted by it in the form of advertisements.

And if we’re serious about this vision of a better Internet, that means living our values and consciously choosing not to participate in this cycle.

So, what does that mean for us?

Most startups raise VC money and use it to acquire customers through advertisements that target Internet users based on their interests, past searches, and community memberships.

This becomes the startup’s primary growth model, often leading them to acquire customers at a cost which far outpaces their profit margins. The only path to survival is if the startup grows quickly enough to saturate the market, ‘disrupt’ the industry, and continue to attract investment. Some startups manage this. Most do not.

Regardless of the startup’s fate, the funds spent on acquisition go directly into the hands of Google, Facebook, and Youtube. As competition increases, advertising costs rise, and so the cycle perpetuates.

This model - besides being inherently risky to the long-term survivability of anytype - is predicated on the data that tech giants collect from us, fueling a one-way value capture system that’s antithetical to our core beliefs.

Needless to say, this just isn’t our game.

Today, we deliver a free product. Our user acquisition till now has been 100% organic, and we’ve managed to grow through our wonderful community in the form of direct referrals, reddit posts, tweets, and your own marvelous content. This will continue to be the case for the foreseeable future, and we’re proud to that it is so.

By the same token however, it means that our growth trajectory is less predictable than that of many young startups.

Here’s what’s coming next:

Removing our waitlist will represent the next stage of anytype’s evolution, and we’ll kick it off with a few sustainable growth campaigns. Instead of paying for user acquisition, we’re doubling down on creating a stellar product experience that people are proud to share; meanwhile, searching for nimble ways to build our name recognition across target communities.

Over the next weeks and months, you can expect the following from us:

  • Introducing a viral product experience, ie: shareable spaces, collaboration, and communities
  • Product hunt launches for desktop & mobile platforms
  • Reddit AMAs & launches in communities dedicated to privacy, self-hosting, and open source
  • Guest appearances on tech-focused podcasts
  • PR announcements & reviews of our app
  • Increased presence on our Youtube channel

Throughout all of this, we believe deeply in the power of community and are confident that with your help, we can grow towards the better Internet that we imagine and deserve.

To do that, we’d love to share ways in which you can already spread the word and involve more people in the freer and fairer web that we’re building:

  • Follow our Product Hunt launch, and throw us some comments on launch day!
  • Give anytype an upvote on alternative.to. Better yet, leave a review!
  • Tell a friend about anytype - show them how to use it and share with them why data ownership matters
  • Know a journalist who might like to cover our story? Please, pop us an email at hello@anytype.io and help us get on their radar!
  • Write or record your own review of anytype & share it on whichever platform you find meaningful
  • See a reddit discussion looking for self-hosted, fully private software solutions? Drop our name there!

As always, our deepest thanks for your support thus far. We love building this product with you, and look forward to what's coming next 🤗