Buying Developers Or A Cut Of The Profits?

If you aren’t familiar, is a paid service for those who are tired of Twitter treating us like product and selling us to the highest bidder. For the record, 1) I understood this when I signed up for the Twitter service and knew they had no business plan; and 2) I do have an account. Developers, in particular, have been screwed by Twitter. Long story that I won’t go into if you are not familiar — I’m sure you can google “Twitter screws developers” and uncover 50 million posts — but let’s just say here that Twitter built itself on the backs of third-party clients and is now screwing them over by cutting them off. charges $50 per year to be apart of its Twitter-like service and is looking for ways to reward developers who write apps for With that, is offering a portion of its monthly income to these developers. I don’t agree with the method for determining the split but I think it is a brilliant idea.

Why? First, it is hard for developers to make a living $2 or $3 per copy. Giving developers a cut of the revenues gives them an on-going incentive to keep improving the app and adding new features. Second, if the platform is successful then is recognizing right up front that developers have contributed to that success and aren’t just paying it lip service. They are actually paying out hard cold cash to their best contributors.

This is a valuable model, akin to Amazon offering reference referrals [1]. Yes, the model is more complicated since it can’t directly give each developer 10% of the purchase price (or whatever the Amazon referral model pays), but a few thousand dollars on top of the revenue generated from selling their apps could be huge for many developers and is an interesting supplemental model to consider when trying to build a company.

[1] I’ve read mixed reactions to the model, partly because it smacks of paying developers to write apps for your platform, which may indicate doom for a platform. I don’t know if I agree with that but that’s the thread circulating these days. Except I see what doing as very different. This isn’t paying developers to write apps; this is a thank you to app developers for contributing to the platform. As I mentioned above, this is much close to’s referral program, not RIM and Microsoft buying apps.