People love Blippy. Well, they love to talk about Blippy. And complain about it. And argue that it’s the end of privacy as we know it. But some people do actually love Blippy, the service which lets you share you credit card transactions with the world. In fact, a number of investors do, as the service has just raised a $1.6 million round of funding.
Blippy co-founder Philip Kaplan is also putting his money where his mouth is and investing. The fact that Charles River Ventures is leading the round should surprise no one since Kaplan left his role there as an Entrepreneur In Residence to help launch Blippy. CRV’s Saar Gur is also taking a seat on Blippy’s board.
Alongside the funding news, Blippy has another big announcement: They’re opening up to everyone today. You’ll no longer need an invite; simply visit the site and sign up.
So why did Blippy feel the need to raise $1.6 million? “There was a lot of interest,” Kaplan says. “We trust this gets us through at least the next 12 to 18 months. Enough time to prove the model,” he continues.
And that model is key. While the site may be controversial right now, the possibilities are interesting. If Blippy is able to prove that people don’t mind sharing their purchase data, a number of potential business plans could spring up. Affiliate fees are an obvious one, but think about featured vendors, and maybe even Blippy credit cards eventually too.
For now, Blippy is happy with the way things are going. Already, the service has some 5,000 members from its closed-beta. Those users have shared over $4.5 million in purchase — and over 100,000 different purchases, Kaplan says. Just a few weeks ago they were only at $1 million in purchases.
The service recently added a bunch of new online stores and services such as Threadless, Netflix, and GroupOn. These services can not only show how much you spent, but also what you specifically bought. For example, on Threadless you can see individual shirts you’ve bought.
Going forward, Blippy has some bigger goals. One of those is working with credit card companies to show all individual purchases. Right now, this is hard to do because a lot of vendors don’t provide that information. But plenty are wiling to for an idea like this, where everyone can see what others are actually buying, Kaplan says.
Kaplan also notes that a number of startups are already using protected accounts on Blippy to share their expenses with others in the company.
And yes, Blippy is working on an iPhone app. And while there is no open API yet, they’re considering that too.
With the opening up to everyone, Blippy will allow you to find your friends on Facebook and Twitter that are also using the service. But for now, none of your Blippy data with flow back to either of those services. That will eventually come, but they’re working on keeping it simple for now, Kaplan says. You can probably imagine the uproar when this purchase data starts flowing into your Facebook stream.
Kaplan also shared a humorous unofficial competition going on throughout the site. Apparently, a number of users are trying to make the smallest purchase possible (above free). Right now, the winner was able to buy one Tootsie Roll with a credit card, for $0.03.
What about the biggest purchase? $15,789 on a industrial freezer. The average purchase price for things on Blippy is $42, apparently. With it now open to everyone, it will be interesting to see how that changes.