Blipfuture: For Christmas only unless we stump up.

Para Added 20 Dec: thank you for comments and 429 visits yesterday. As a number of people pointed out the Christmas spending period is a big factor in our bank balances. Pledges are not the same as money being drawn from accounts. You will be informed before any money leaves your account and can cancel your pledge at that time. Far from spreading doom and gloom my purpose in this blog was to try to galvanise support for the buyout.


I wanted to put up another blog but my time is very limited. So here are some comments on the recent figures released on the crowdfunding campaign so far, Blipfoto users and the wider community. This blog is not as polished (!) or thought through (!) as some of my efforts. But it felt important to write something. My thanks to fellow Blipper akkuv for his input and insights.


I've reverted to the old comment system.


Where are we up to with the Blipfuture campaign?


As of the morning of 18th December 2014 the investment pledged for the community buyout and startup of Blipfuture was £43,615. The target of the campaign is a minimum of £180,000. Without reaching that total Blipfuture will not go forward and chances are that will be the end of Blipfoto.


The funding raised is up £8,170 on the pledges announced by the Blipfuture team on 9th December.

So in the first phase of the campaign (4th Dec to 9 Dec) £35,445 was pledged. In the second longer phase (10th Dec to 18th) much, much less was raised (£8,170). (These ‘phases’ are ones I’ve defined arbitrarily).


The pledging figures released on 9th Dec showed that the total sum raised had been done through 296 pledges averaging £119.75. Using that average pledge figure on the pledges since 9th Dec (til 18th Dec) would give another 68 pledges and a total of 364 pledges since 4th December.


I am surprised at these figures.


The total raised so far (£43,615) is about 24% of the total needed. And ‘only’ 364 people (give or take for double pledges from individuals) have pledged.


Given the apparent and much lauded strength of the Blipfoto community this low total of pledgers is really puzzling.

I know (see previous blogs) that there are issues with non-EU Blippers in terms of them not being yet able to make donations and not being able to buy shares. But even taking this into account I find it amazing that only approximately 364 people have felt inclined or able to make a pledge.


Blipfoto User Numbers


For the first time we have some hard, if imprecise data. The revised Financial Plan published on 16 Dec on the Blipfuture investment page gives the following figures


Date                      Member:              Members:

Logins                  At least one blip


Nov 2014             6,424

Dec 2014                                           6,300

Jan 2015                                            7,337

Nov 2015             6,400                    3,698


At the end of 2014 there appear to have been 6,400 users logging in (November) and 6,300 users who blipped at least once in December 2014. The number posting blips rose in Jan 2015 – after the Polaroid branded relaunch – to 7,337 (although the footnote that gives this figure ends in a mysterious ‘but’).


Although this figure rose it clearly did not rise fast enough and Blip went into voluntary liquidation in March 2015.

By November 2015 the number of users posting at least one blip in that month (3,698) had fallen by a staggering 41.3% (2,602 members) on the number blipping one year earlier before the Polaroid branded relaunch.


As Akkuv (a Blipper and statistician) has calculated, many of this number of 3,698 do not blip every day. He estimates this is more likely closer to 1,500.  ‘He says, ‘My guess still is that there will be about 1,000, maximum ,1500, who will invest’.  


This is a pretty calamitous fall in Blip user numbers in terms of the core community of people actually Blipping. Unfortunately we don’t know when the greatest fall took place but it would probably be fair to surmise that it happened when the liquidation of Blipfoto was announced. Since then there has been scant communication from the new owners and little or nothing in the way of marketing or incentives – with the exception of the ‘Extra photo’ feature in April 2015 - put in place to tempt old Blippers back.


It is also interesting to compare the logins versus people posting Blips. In Nov/Dec 2014 these figures more or less matched – a login seems to have meant a Blip in effect. But by November 2015 although the login figure had held up at over 6,400 many fewer (41.3%) people were Blipping (3,698).


Without more detail it is guess work but my hunch is that a lot of old Blippers still login to comment on photos and journals posted on Blipfoto even though they are not posting. (After all you don’t need to log in to view Blip or Blip Central journals and Blipfoto quickly unlogs users  – in less than half an hour in my experience).


The figures above suggest that there is a core community of Blippers of below 3,698 as this figure will include occasional blippers and new members trying out the site’s offer. I suggested in a previous blog a figure of 2,500 before I revised this upwards using ‘view’ data on Blip Central posts. But I suspect the core community fluctuates somewhere around this figure. AkkuV above reckons there is a core of 1000-1,500 max who will feel committed enough to invest.


So to recap the number of people posting on Blipfoto appears to have fallen dramatically in the last year by 41.3% to 3,698. The number currently  blipping on a daily basis is probably somewhere between 1,000 and 1,500.


New Users and the Wider Community


Blipfoto continues to attract new users – (487 signed up in November 2015) but only 37.6% went on to post a blip in that month.


There is an important wider Blipfoto community of people who do not have accounts but who view the site. In November 2015 116,349 unique users visited the Blipfoto site. We don’t know for how long or how regularly but that seems like a fair flow of website traffic. If we ignore the members visiting the site who are part of this number that would equate to 31.5 unique visitors per Blipping member in November 2015.


So when people have rightly said that the number of Blippers probably is too low to appeal to advertisers – even specialist photographic ones – there may be a bigger traffic flow that could appeal to advertisers.


Where did the Blip community leavers go?


We know little about this. There was a rush to join Project 365 but a rough count on the ‘Blipfoto refugees’ page of the site shows in the region of 380 Blipfoto members who opened accounts – either in parallel or as a replacement to their Blipfoto account. That’s not to say that more blippers didn’t open Project 365 accounts. If they did they just did not announce themselves on the ‘refugees’ page.


Having said all this, the thing that really puzzles me at this stage of the campaign is the low number of members of the Blipfoto community who have pledged as future investors in the company (by my reckoning less than 400).


Why aren’t you investing?


We can guess at some of the reasons for this low number through comments on the Facebook and Blipcentral pages: 

  • People who paid for services not received – books, life memberships – under the previous company, Blipfoto Ltd;
  • People who think they are throwing good money after bad or who think the community buyout is doomed;
  •  People who would invest but can only donate (ie those outside the EU/EEA/CH);
  •  People who cannot yet donate (ie those outside the EU/EEA/CH);
  • People who simply do not have the funds to invest or who are worried that if they invest they will not be able to afford the membership fee;
  •  People who will not invest until they see more convincing projections of future business (see the revised figures on the Blipfuture home page in Financial Projections);
  •  People who are unsure of the involvement of the founders of Blipfoto in the new venture and who have developed a distrust or dislike for them;
  • People who will only invest when membership fees are decided;
  • People who hated the link with Polaroid and are unsure if these ties have been severed;
  • People who like Blipfoto but are just not that fussed one way or the other;
  • People who are facing the financial demands of Christmas and simply see no way to finance Blipfuture at the same time;
  •  People who think they see cheaper and sustainable alternatives to Blipfuture;
  • People who think that if we wait the owners will lower the asset price;
  • People who think we can just 'start again' and somehow not lose the community and archive in the process;
  • People who think, 'I told you all along it would fail and it has. That's why I didn't invest in it's future in the first place.'


Momentum is key


The trouble is that those who are waiting or hesitating add to the loss of momentum in the campaign. And the more the campaign losses momentum the more hesitant will be many people to make a commitment to it. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. If pledges dry up or slow down with the total at less than a quarter of the target it is hard to see how momentum can be gained again.


If we as a community cannot generate some momentum come the New Year I suspect that we as a community are doomed.


As AkkuV above says, and I am paraphrasing, ‘Paying for Blipfoto as investors and users is pretty cheap as hobbies go. The sums involved are often dwarfed by the amounts people pay for their photographic kit.’



Alternative provision and sustainability?


For those who have already left Blipfoto or are looking at alternatives I’d say this: is the alternative you are looking at any more secure in the medium to long-term future than Blipfuture? Do you know what business plan they operate and do you know if they are sustainable? Do you turn the criticism you level at Blipfuture (or have levelled at Blipfoto in the past) on your current or preferred future provider?


I don’t know the detail of the Project 365 finances but it seems to be a one-man operation without a formal community involvement structure. The Project 365 FAQs page states quite openly that the site,


‘is lovingly made by Ross Scrivener … He makes this site as a part-time hobby whilst working on web development projects for clients’.


I'm not saying he will, but what if Ross falls out of love with Project 365? Or his work commitments prevent him pursuing his hobby?


Another site, Kujaja, that was discussed on the Friends of Blipfoto FB page (1,400+ members) says in its Basics,


‘To date we have been absorbing all of the running costs. The costs are continuously rising as the site grows bigger and bigger so we are always very grateful to receive a donation.’


It seems to me that we either pay up and work out how to ensure a high level of community involvement and ownership in Blipfuture or we go somewhere else and sooner or later stumble across the same old problems of sustainability and accountability. Blipfuture is about building a long-term future of stability and real ownership.


Yes, there if Flickr and Twitter and Facebook and all sorts of photography sites. But do they do what Blipfoto does? And do you have any say whatsoever in how they do what they do?


Another point to bear in mind: Blipfoto has had significant investment over the years – both private and public. The current platform works exceptionally well – I’m aware of one outage over my 365 blips and I’m amazed at the upload speeds at peak periods.


I have no experience of other platforms but if Blipfoto goes it will go for good. And that is without talking about its community.


So I say:


If you can, invest or donate now. Don’t wait.


A community owned social media platform is not just for Christmas. But it will be if we don’t stump up.


And while it may not literally save your life how lessened would our lives be without this fantastic beast that links us from Iceland to Oman and the four corners of the earth?


Write a comment

Comments: 17
  • #1

    blast (Saturday, 19 December 2015 09:45)

    Thank you for this Fergus, although it makes very depressing reading. I too am bewildered that only 364 people have actually put their money where their mouth is. I do understand that there will be people who cannot afford even the minimum investment, but there do seem to be more than 364 fervent blippers commenting elsewhere. Sadly, I feel that if the issues you raise aren't sorted out fast, blipfoto looks doomed.

  • #2

    akkuvv (Saturday, 19 December 2015 09:46)

    Thank you. You have a good analysi in your new blog.
    As you said, people don't seem to find the good sides of the new Blipfoto, the speed and functioning. You seem yourself coming while this new quicker interface was here. But old blippers ought to remember how slow it often was and you had to try often to get in.
    One thing that what I should emphasize is the psychological feeling of being betrayed by old Blipcentral that many still feel.
    I don't feel so, although I bought two life time memberships, one to myself and another to my daughter. I am sure that Joe did his best and with the money we invested 2014 they could run the place long enough to publish the new site that now can be run by little effort.

    I am still waiting that those who have already invested will wake up and realize that more is needed. One ought to say concretely that there are needed more people to invest 250, 500 or thousand pounds, other way this will fail.

  • #3

    David Stebbing (Saturday, 19 December 2015 09:53)

    Excellent analysis Fergus, I would only add two thoughts. First I am at a complete loss to understand why it is taking so long to facilitate investments/donations from overseas members ( this should really have been put in place prior to the Blipfuture launch).
    Second, I always had a sneaking suspicion that Blip's population contained a sizeable minority of freeloaders who are always looking for something for nothing and will delay their decisions to stump up as long as there is a chance they won't have to. Call me a cynic but I've seen it all before !
    Just in case the worst happens have quick look at "".

  • #4

    Lynn Fotheringham (Saturday, 19 December 2015 10:18)

    Hello Fergus, I have read numerous Blip.posts where people have said they will 'join', meaning they are willing to pay the yearly membership, but seeming not to realise that if they don't invest there will be nothing to join.
    Its not going to work, is it? Even if every loyal user stumped up £100 the target would be missed.
    I guess you have given Blipfuture a link to this post so they can promote it through blipcentral.

  • #5

    Pat Brigg (Missycat) (Saturday, 19 December 2015 10:26)

    Bleak but sadly, realistic I fear. I am surprised at just how small a number have pledged. I continue to be mystified as to why the new owners made apparently no effort at all to keep hold of existing blippers and attract new.

  • #6

    WILLIE (Saturday, 19 December 2015 10:50)

    I'm very disappointed. I stopped flipping regularly so not sure I'm part of the problem but I definitely hoped to be part of the solution and have pledged and could increase it. I think because it's web based people expect not to have to pay. Others are waiting to see if they can get away without pledging. They need to sort out the non EU shares/donations pronto. I'm repeating myself but I'm so very disappointed.

  • #7

    Lincoln Green (Saturday, 19 December 2015 11:52)

    I agree heartily with AkkuV's remark about the cost of Blip being dwarfed by the sums invested in equipment, software and so on. This is true in many cases. However, we do seem to be stricken by a number of constraints to raising the required funds. There are genuine reasons, for example that of affordability, especially at Christmas time of course. If we are to succeed, or avoid failure (see below), it is clear that Blipfuture needs to have the widest appeal possible, to inspire as many of those candidate investor members as possible. Different people have different motivations, for example those driven by the fear of failure, vs those with the will to succeed and those who are apathetic. There are others though who will quite happily sit back and spectate upon the proceedings in which ever course they might run and commentate on the outcome in an 'I told you so' way. Comments such as 'I knew it would fail, that's why I didn't invest' are neither welcome or helpful. Thankfully, not everyone has this attitude, or we would never achieve anything.

    Members wavering on the question of whether to invest or not (assuming affordability and eligibility) might think about the true value of the community and their engagement with it or alternatively, the true value of taking action now to avoid missing it in the future.

    By the way, there are other interesting studies out there which address people's attitude to deadlines. This one is quite a way off yet. Some of the answer to your question 'why so few investors now' undoubtedly lies therein. It would make interesting and contextual reading - just saying :-).

  • #8

    Uniqueandlovely (Saturday, 19 December 2015 12:28)

    As yet I have not pledged any money, and it isn't because I don't want to, but because of my financial circumstances. I will pledge, of course I will I have over 1,000 entries and really want blip to continue, but I am only able to pledge a small amount of money as I do not have enough left in my bank at any one time to cover a larger pledge, and as I don't know when the money is coming out I have to be very careful.
    I am sad, because if everyone gave a small amount we might just make it !!!

  • #9

    Kimb (Saturday, 19 December 2015 14:18)

    Well, this is depressing. And not yet being able to *donate* is making me crazy.

  • #10

    Legodude (Saturday, 19 December 2015 15:46)

    I am definitely pledging have tried already but page refused to accept my card so second time lucky. There is nothing out there like Blipfoto, what happened to it in the past is done. The future could be so bright but only if folk put their hands in their pockets. Personally I think attracting selected advertisers (from the photographic industry) would be a good idea long term. Yes, I lost my paid lifetime membership in the liquidation however I hope others who did too will be able to see beyond that. Should the bid fail and the site fold, we will have lost something very special. Only then in hindsight people will wish they had helped when they had a chance. Please don't let it come to this fellow blippers!

  • #11

    BobsBlips (Saturday, 19 December 2015 21:55)

    I have been a landlord, done fund raising things, and have run a couple of lottery syndicates for well over 15 years. Getting money out of some has always been hard work....and that's what Blipfuture is experiencing.

    I read the Blipfuture literature and the bottom line is that whatever we pledge is basically a gift; although we will receive shares there is little likelihood we will be able to trade them or get a dividend. The Financial Services themselves say we should not invest anything we are not prepared to lose - and in many ways that is the crux of the problem - the UK is suffering financial hardships and cutbacks and many cannot afford to lose money or have spare money to invest.

    Might I suggest that Blipfuture repeatedly request members to 'pledge' and maybe approach a company to sponsor the site in the way of them buying shares?

  • #12

    Renate Tries (Sunday, 20 December 2015 00:52)

    Ok, maybe this has something to do with x-mas. We all have lots of expenses this time of the year and the last thing on the list would be donations at this time. Also, I would like to know where the money goes, as they say: 'Follow the money'. How come we need such a big amount, when other sites can do this on donations only.
    First of all, we all need to pitch in, so in the future, can only the paid members will be able to access blip???

  • #13

    Colin Barber (Monday, 21 December 2015 02:41)

    This does not bode well and the numbers who regularly blip being so low suggest that is the reason behind the decision by the 2 investors who bought the assets of Blipfoto to pull the plug. I am one the people who drifted away to 365, it's not blip but I have settled in and found new friends. I will say I miss those who did regularly commented on my Blips and I hope enough money is raised to keep it going. That at the moment is looking unlikely.

  • #14

    David Stebbing (Monday, 21 December 2015 23:36)

    The constant absence of any reply to my repeated requests for an update on what steps are being taken to facilitate foreign donations is making me think that these guys are not on the ball and that does not bode well for the future of Blip.

  • #15

    Patricia Wooding (Tuesday, 22 December 2015 00:35)

    I have struggled with the website, it has not recognised my password, not allowed me to reset my password, told me the server is overloaded, and several times I have given up in frustration. I wonder how many others have had this experience. I also wonder if there are blippers who are unaware of what is going on: I am an occasional blipper these days and only found out by chance, other blip friends don't seem aware, I wonder how to get the message out.

  • #16

    Ned Henderson (Tuesday, 22 December 2015 23:00)

    Thank you for this thoughtful commentary and the efforts you have put in to clarify the situation as regards Blipfuture for those of us who are not very business savvy. Just now it is not looking all that hopeful but tomorrow is another day and all we can do is keeping spreading the word and encouraging people.

  • #17

    Karen Cropper (Thursday, 24 December 2015 17:40)

    In my experience if you give people a deadline for anything, there are some who will do it straight away, there are some that will do it after a few reminders, there will be a load of people who will just forget until several more more reminders, most people will then just start thinking about it a day or two before the deadline if that, and then at the deadline another load of people will suddenly says "What? I don't know anything about this, there's a deadline? Can I have an extension?" That sadly is the spectrum of human nature.

    The other issue about Christmas is not necessarily about limited availability of funds but limited availability of time. There is a lot of stuff around to read and reading takes time. So that affects both knowing about the issue and understanding enough about it all to make an informed decision. I think people are right to be cautious and should indeed read the information available and ask questions. But thinking time and doing time is very heavily stretched at this time of year.