How will IFTTT monetize

Dependency: Concern about the future of ifttt

Used correctly, the US service ifttt can become an extremely powerful personal assistant for digital life. But the resulting dependency on service has a downside.


The past few weeks have been characterized by a series of sometimes unexpected closures and takeovers, which once again call into question the sustainability and long-term availability of online services offered free of charge. Just this morning, the location service Ditto from Jaiku founder Jyri Engeström announced its acquisition by Groupon - and the closure on April 30th.

Current events recently led me to consider which of the services I regularly use I would regret with the most tears; In which offer, which is in an early growth phase, is not profitable and therefore does not stand on its own two feet, I am particularly concerned about a change that is not very beneficial for users, such as a "talent acquisition". The answer: ifttt.

The Californian service, with which dozens of web applications can be brought into interaction with one another, has transformed for me from a magical but not very productive gimmick into a powerful engine of my everyday Internet life (if this is your first time hearing about ifttt, you will find a description of the Functionality ). In the course of time, more and more practical mergers of online services that can be implemented by ifttt came to my mind, which is why a significant number of digital processes that I have initiated every day are now carried out by ifttt. In November I sketched five examples, and in September my colleague Thomas Mauch explained on our sister blog how ifttt can be used as a life tracking tool.

ifttt has developed into my personal assistant, who expands my preferred online services with an almost infinite number of additional integration points with other services that are missing from the factory.

What worries me about the San Francisco startup that was founded last year is the fact that there is no alternative. While most of the recently launched offers move several up-and-coming web companies in the same segment and thus at least an alternative solution would be available in the event of a "failure", ifttt is alone with its concept of "digital adhesive tape". The Austrian startup Wappwolf, which has relocated to Silicon Valley, comes closest to the extremely useful service. However, this positions itself as a kind of "ifttt for files" and focuses on processes related to the Dropbox storage service.

This creates the following situation for me: ifttt occupies first place in the list of services, without which I would no longer want to imagine a productive everyday online life. So to a certain extent I am dependent on ifttt. There are no other providers with a similar focus. The apparently extremely talented ifttt founding duo Linden Tibbets and Jesse Tane also live at the world's most important hotspot in the technology industry - in the immediate vicinity of the headquarters of all billion dollar internet companies that spare no expense to attract capable developers.

My fear of waking up one morning and being served the blog post by the ifttt team, in which they announce their acquisition through Google, Facebook or Twitter and the imminent discontinuation of their service, is perhaps understandable.

If the risk of such a drastic change were eliminated, would ifttt charge its users a monthly or annual fee? Certainly not completely. Nevertheless, bubbling sales (if others are willing to pay besides me) would have an impact on how the makers react to possible takeover offers. This would create a moral obligation on the part of the founders to their customers, which is simply missing in a non-monetized free offer - which ifttt currently represents.

In January of this year, ifttt received seed funding of 1.5 million dollars from "well-known investors" in Silicon Valley. Such engagement usually leads to positive associations, but in this case it also signals that ifttt, unlike popular mini-startups such as Instapaper or Pinboard, wants to follow the classic growth path paved with venture capital and aimed at an exit. In the special case of ifttt, which is exceptionally not dependent on network effects and has a potentially willing to pay user base due to its enormous, productivity-increasing utility, I would have liked an early sales focus before venture capital in the millions from the "usual suspects" (including Michael Arrington's crunch fund) is recorded.

Hopefully I'm exaggerating my pessimism. And hopefully in a year or two I will still be able to use ifttt to harmonize online services that otherwise don't speak the same language.