June 9, 2010
Good intentions gone bad
I may be a helpless romantic and optimist, but I generally believe that most founders of start-ups are trying to do good and create great products. Being an entrepreneur myself, I tend to believe hard work and innovation will win customer’s hearts and minds. There are obviously some people in the business just to make a quick buck on a trend. Those I am not so charitable about. Unfortunately it seems like we have a bad actor coming into the Group Commerce / Daily deal space in HomeRun.com. When they started in San Francisco sourcing their own great deals and I sent a “Welcome to the party” note. I love people passionate about the deal space, competition is good.
But recently, things have taken an odd turn over there. Suddenly HomeRun.com has dozens of cities overnight. How did that happen? Well what they did is write a scraper of other deal sites like Tippr, Grouon and Living Social. These deals are presented as “friends of HomeRun” even though no-one from HomeRun has ever contacted us over here at Tippr. The deals are re-framed in the HR UI and presented with a “buynow” button. Unfortunately the “buynow” button doesn’t buy the deal, it pops up a message to get you to subscribe to HomeRun.com’s proprietary email list. When you do that, you are then sent over to Tippr.com where you are faced with another “buy now” button. Putting aside all of the obvious poor user experience issues (and the lack of windownew), this kind of thing is just not in the spirit of on-line commerce. This is bad acting. HomeRun.com is using Tippr without permission to build their own in-house list. They are not adding any value to the customer experience. In fact I believe they are degrading the customer experience significantly.
A funny twist on this unfortunate situation is that Tippr is the most aggregator friendly deal site out there. Today we announced the acquisition of FanForce and the extension of our deal platform to white labels powering lots of brands. Other deal sites explicitly prohibit their deals from being aggregated. We believe daily deals should be distributed everywhere. But not without attribution. Not without authorization. Not in a poor customer experience. If you see Tippr deals elsewhere on the web, please let us know. We want you to see Tippr deals in lots of places, but we want to be a part of it and ensure a great customer experience.