Q&A: Peter Sunde on how to Flattr content creators
By Julian Benson 31 August 11
After Peter Sunde‘s talk at the Turing Festival, we caught up with him to give us some more details about Flattr, his start-up that allows users to easily donate money to creators of content, or, as he puts it, “the ‘like button’ that means something”.
Flattr takes a monthly fee from users, between €2 (£1.77) and €200 (£177), and shares it amongst all the artists you’ve “Flattrd” that month by clicking a button on their website. An anonymous service, Flattr users are able to support any cause they wish without fear of being traced; currently, the most Flattrd site is WikiLeaks.
Wired.co.uk: Are bloggers able to use Flattr buttons on their blog without being a paying Flattr user?
Sunde: You can put the button on, but you have to have an account connected. We’re opening up so you can just add it to your email. The problem is that if you get enough money, the European Union says that we have to know who you are to give you money. So in the end we need people to sign up to be able to pass them money through our system. But we’re making it easier all the time.
Does this mean you collect data on Flattr users?
No, we ask people not to give us information that they don’t want to give us. As long as we don’t need it [for the EU] we don’t want to know who you are. We really care about people’s privacy. We want to be our own customers, right. We want the company to be good to us.
But what’s to stop people being Flattrd when they’re hosting someone else’s content?
Intelligent search engines solve most of the problems. Like, you would be able to find Lady Gaga’s homepage, all the links will be there and all the people you ask will point you there. It’s like walking on the street and going into a fake bank. It wouldn’t happen that often. It could happen that you put your money into a fake ATM or a fake account, but it’s not really that big a problem.
Are the plans to bring Flattr to devices other than your PC?
We have a really open api that will allow anyone to integrate Flattr into whatever product they want. Some music players for Android, not heavily used ones, [already] have this feature. We’re talking to people from different free media players that are integrating Flattr so that you can Flattr a video, or a music piece, that you’ve downloaded to your player. To make it less about the web and more about the content.
Is that the way you recently Flattrd a conference?
Yeah, I came from The Conference two days ago. Everything had QR codes, for every speaker, every event, every session. I think the top speaker got 60 or 70 Flattrs, which is quite cool. There were a lot of people who were really happy with it, they were really happy with being able to give their gratitude.
Are the big players like YouTube keen on the idea?
They’re kind of careful, they want to see how it pans out. I know that Facebook is working on something similar, and they’re kind of looking at what we’re doing. The big problem we have is that most of these really big companies, there are basically ten US companies, all of them only do their own solutions. So if Google do a solution for payments it will not be used by PayPal or Amazon. We have a benefit in being outside of that, but at the same time we don’t have the leverage to go on Youtube. It is kind of the chicken and the egg, if we’re big enough we’ll be on Youtube and if we’re not then we’ll find another way.
You can check out Flattr at Flattr.com.