TipJoy's New API Lets Web Apps Share the Love (and Cash) With Their Contributors


How do you get more people top leave tips on blogs? Try to make your tip jar app into a platform that spreads the wealth to more people. Y Combinator startup TipJoy is trying to do that with a new platform API for Web applications that will let them share tips with users who contribute content. The platform is launching today in closed beta (the first 200 Web developers who mention TechCrunch in the application will get in).

TipJoy already makes a widget that bloggers can put on their sites to collect tips from loyal readers. Tips start at 10 cents, but readers can choose any amount. All they need to do is put in an e-mail address. Payments are made via PayPal (which takes 2 3 to 6 percent—TipJoy takes another 2 3 percent). With the new API, Web apps and sites that rely on contributions from the audience will be able to split up any tips with those contributors as well. The hosting sites will determine the split, but TipJoy founder Ivan Kirigin expects the most effective formula will end up giving the majority to the contributors. Some API partners testing the widget include bug.gd, Disqus, IJigg, OurDoings, and Weebly.

Below is an example of what a TipJoy widget looks like (any contributions will be donated to charity):

While I like TipJoy’s approach, the sad truth is that people in general are bad tippers, and that is doubly true for the Web. Since TipJoy launched in February, it has collected only 7443 (mostly 10-cent) tips totaling $2589.86 across all the 300 blogs that use it. And the payment rate is only 25 percent. Maybe if tip jars spread, that payment rate will go up. But don’t count on it.