Blipfuture: clarifications and contentious points

When does the money get taken from my account?


Just a note on the difference between pledges and payments given that we are so close to Christmas. As I understand if you make a donation or pledge to buy shares in Blipfuture no money will be debited from your account until the target of £180,000 is reached (see the Blipfuture FAQs).


At that point all investors/donors will be informed that the deal (ie the purchase of the Blipfoto assets) is going ahead. You can cancel your payment at this point if you have changed your mind. Clearly, no-one can tell when that point might be reached.


But to reiterate at this point people are being asked to pledge money and not actually pay it. That comes later. Once the £180,000 target is reached any further pledged funds will probably be withdrawn at the end of the fundraising campaign - 1st March 2016.


No one 'chose' to launch this so close to Christmas. It's just where things are at. There is not a little pressure to conclude a deal with the owners of the Blipfoto assets.


Donations from outside the EU/EEA/Switzerland


Some people have been trying to donate from the US. This appears to not be possible at the moment.

 There are some technical and regulatory issues that are being worked through. Hopefully they'll be sorted by next week.


Can I still be a member of Blip without investing/donating to Blipfuture CIC.


Yes. Being a shareholder or donor does not confer membership of the Blipfuture online site. This will be through a membership subscription that is open to all. Details of subscription rates are not yet known. There is a scale of discounts on membership fees for larger investor/donors to Blipfuture CIC.


Is it possible to pay with Pay Pal?


Will check with Blipfuture Directors.


Will there be regular fundraising feedbacks?

Will check with Blipfuture Directors.


What is the cost of the Blipfoto assets?


I have said on the FB Blipfoto Friends page that the cost of the deal to buy the Blipfoto assets from the current owners is £180,000. It is more complicated than that and apologies for not grapsing this first time. To clarify, the £180,000 target is the amount that the Directors of Blipfuture belief will be sufficient to gainn control of the Blipfoto assets and to provide sufficient working capital to take the Blipfuture company forward.  The fundraising aspiration is greater than this and a figure of £400,000 is mentioned in the business plan.


The actual agreed cost of the Blipfoto assets is not publicly known. This is because the purchase will be a mix of cash, non-voting shares and long-term payments if and when the company becomes profitable.

See the Blipfuture Business Plan 3.3 states,


‘They [the current owners] have been very flexible in offering to take payment in a combination of cash, non-voting shares in the new company and long term payments which are only made when and if the company generates a surplus’.


Do we need to know more about this?  I guess as an investor or donor one has to make a decision that the purchase deal represents fair value and that the Directors have struck as hard a deal as they can.


Are there concerns that the current owners might have a stake in the new company through non-voting shares? It is conceivable that non-voting shares could benefit from a dividend payment (see Articles 28 and 37) although these are capped at 35% of profits within the CIC structure. But frankly that is perhaps a worry for another day and further down the line.  The important thing to note here is the Directors' view that the current owners are showing [admirable] flexibility in coming to a deal in terms of the mix cash, shares and long-term payments.


It could be argued that the value of the transaction is mere chump change to joint Blipfoto owner, Bobby Sager.


Here's an extract from an earlier blog.


With regard to Bobby Sager you might want to take a look at this Daily Telegraph article titled, 'Bobby Sager the not-so-secret-millionaire.' It's surprising. He also has a page on the Gordon Brothers website.




He is a very wealthy man - but to say how wealthy would be, he says, 'so boring'. (So bore us, I say).  Sager says,  “I have enough,” he says, “so that I can spend the rest of my life engaged in giving away money. Especially the way I do it.”


But this giving is philanthropic and neither Blipfoto nor Blipfuture are philanthropic/charitable ventures. It's a commercial deal.


Clearly the more entirely owned Blipfuture is owned by its community the better, I would have said. But that all depends on the pocket and willingness of the community. There might also be advantages in having some commercial partner investment.


Blipfoto Member Numbers (Updated 6th December)


This is a vexed issue but not surprisingly membership numbers have never been made public.  It would be nice to know these numbers, particularly with regard to regular members and changes in membership. But I wouldn't hold your breath on this one. 


There are now 1,400 people signed up to the Friends of Facebook page and earlier this year my blogs on Blipfoto got 1,800 hits. My two blogs yesterday got just short of 1,200 hits. This seems to indicate a very actively involved community of users.

I don't know why I didn't think of this before but one way to get a proxy for Blipfoto member numbers might be to use 'Views' of important BlipCentral posts.  Below is a table looking back over the last year.

It shows that the highest number of Views (may include multiple views by one user?) of a BlipCentral page was on 24th April 2015 when the Extra Photos feature was announced. The number of views was approximately 28,300 (it's recorded on the page as 28.3k).  If these are all unique individual user views rather than repeat views this suggests at least 28,300 Blipfoto users in April 2015. (Although it is puzzling that there are 11,000 more views for the Extra Photos announcement than the Liquidation announcement).

Table of BlipCentral Views and Comments on Recent High Use Days.
Table of BlipCentral Views and Comments on Recent High Use Days.

The BlipCentral post launching Blipfuture on Friday 4 December 2015 is currently (6th Dec 15.1) showing 7,063 views .

This figure should be treated with caution because it is still rising as Blippers catch up with their journals over the weekend and hear the news of Blipfuture.

The data above should be treated with caution but they might be an indication (with an unknown margin of non-viewers or repeat views) of Blipfoto regular and active members (with the proviso that the 'view' figures are unique user views rather than possible repeat views).

We could speculate endlessly about the average investment/donation per investing regular member that is needed to meet the £180,000 target (for example at 1,000 investing/donating members it averages £ 180 at 2,500 it averages at £72 and at 5,000 it averages £36).

But this is kind of beside the point.  Some members will be inclined/able to give/invest more and others less. 

I'm hoping that there will be some feedback on the fundraising and how it is going.

Could the money be used differently?


Some people have commented that £180,000 could buy a lot of development time and they wonder if starting afresh rather than buying Blipfoto is a possibility. I can't answer for the Directors but the trouble with starting afresh could be that 1) the accumulated journals of Blip users would be lost 2) the systems would be lost and 3) the community might disappear in the interim between the lights going out on Blipfoto and some new platform appearing.


So yes maybe it would be nice to start afresh - although personally the fact that Blipfoto has continued to function with hardly a blip is a pretty good sign to me - but I imagine the current owners of Blipfoto would be much less co-operative if they thought Blippers were going to abandon their platform en masse. In that situation I certainly wouldn't wait around for a new platform to emerge. I'd either look for another buyer or cut my losses and close it down.


See also my point above about the cost of Blipfoto assets.


What about people who can't hold shares ?


Unfortunately people living outside the EU/EEA and Switzerland cannot buy shares in Blipfuture for complex regulatory reasons that would take thousands of quids to sort out at this stage. This is a real bummer. It immediately creates a donor class of 'investors' who do not have representation in the governance of Blipfuture through voting rights.  I think this issue does need to be addressed given the international nature and spirit of Blipfoto.


One thought that occurred to me was to create some kind 'special representative' Director/Board Member of sections of the Blipfuture community who cannot acquire voting rights.


It's not as if US or New Zealand members would necessarily have different interests than other members. But, if through no fault of their own they are 'relegated' to donor status rather than shareholding status there should maybe be some kind of compensatory representative initiative?


And this situation is currently exacerbated on the page where investor status and benefits (Bronze, Silver, Gold etc) is specifically linked to the number of shares bought. Well, what if I can't buy shares?? Do I get badges and stuff too??


The Business Plan financial projections?


I find the very outline financial projection table -well- very outline. With no notes on how figures have been arrived at, particularly the sales revenue and the numbers of members that make up these figures, it is really hard to make sense of these, particularly the large growth in sales revenue between Year 1 and 2.


This could be particularly worriesome  in the light of the Blipfoto Ltd's failure being based on the failure to materialise of new members between the relaunch in December 2014 and the liquidation in March 2015. However, I hope the Blipfuture Directors have been fairly conservative in their assumptions. Investment is a risky business and forecasting is not a science (sticks thumb in wind).


But at the end of the day investing in Blipfuture is going to be an act of faith and hope based on the information available. £180,000 is considered to be the minimum to get control of the Blipfoto assets, cover the start-up costs and have enough working capital to get the company going before subscription revenue can be generated.




Someone quite rightly commented on one of my blogs yesterday that I am may be giving some of the Blipfuture material too easy or too positive a ride. I am caught in a dilemma. I want Blipfuture to succeed and I do not want to start hares running that undermine trust in the new company. On the other hand, if issues are not dealt with at the outset and subject to proper scrutiny they are more likely to prove costly and disruptive - in terms of community relations if nothing else - at a later stage. So I'm walking a delicate line. And trying to clarify issues with Directors if they seem particularly contentious.


And sorry for not replying to comments left on my blogs. It's a bit of a clunky commenting system and I could do with updating it. But rest assured they are much appreciated and always read.


Write a comment

Comments: 2
  • #1

    TESSA BELL (Saturday, 05 December 2015 23:24)

    I can't find a place on blip where questions can be asked. I've looked at the Blipfutures FAQ page. My question is - can the members be consulted about advertising? We didn't want adverts when Polaroid took over. But now, if its a question of not enough money to run Blip, or membership fees that are too high for many to afford, can advertising not be considered? Its there on facebook and you just learn to ignore it.

  • #2

    Dave Mercer (Sunday, 06 December 2015 08:11)

    Fergus I really appreciate the time and effort that you are spending to explain this information, I recognize the dilemma between wanting blip to continue and the apparent lack of hard facts in the offer documents. But it leaves me with a question , would it not be quite simple for the current owners to send an email to all blip users explaining the situation and linking to the offer pages?

    I have never received anything asking me to help recruit new members, or anything suggesting in the current situation that paying a memebership subscription or a simple contribution to running costs would help secure the future of Blip.

    To some extent I think this previous radio silence is at least part of the cause of the current situation.

    Even now the crowdfunding initiative is not well publicized, apart from by yourself, although I remain willing to contribute this apparent pattern of low communication from the persons directly involved does not give me great confidence for the future.