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Wow, Referly only generated $33,883.38? All that press and effort and only 33k in commissions? That is seriously terrible.

I don't know what all the fuss is/was about, but in terms of affiliate marketing money, that's not a large amount of revenue for one solo affiliate, let alone a whole company...




Sorry, but why exactly is the founder of Referly posted on HN as if they actually have credibility? I've seen a bunch of posts by them, but if they can't generate $40k in revenues... do they actually know what they are talking about?

There are too many snakeoil salespeople that talk authoritatively on subjects, but don't actually have success to back them up. Referly definitely seems like someone in this category.


Shows how far a loud voice can carry.


And thus why they changed direction to Mattermark.


Bingo.


Why is it terrible? Sure, money was lost. But terrible it is not.


I meant that it's not a lot of money, it's wasn't very successful for the amount of time/effort/marketing/press it got.

It was all over TC and other publications. One would assume that would correlate to more success, but I guess that would be a false assumption.


"Press" coverage does not a success make. It does, however, buy a lot of cheap VC money for later investments. One thing to learn from this is that media coverage won't do much for you if the business model is skewed. Still, there is always Cherry.


not very many startup business models work from day 1. Startups are interesting if they are growing, not necessarily a foolproof business model; you are consistently patching the holes.

If you get a lot of press coverage, it probably means you are a good hustler and marketer, which is pretty vital to your success. If the market is bad, switch markets. Kudos to Danielle & Kevin.


Bigger thing was the opportunity cost for the team; that team probably was worth $50-100k/mo to be working on something else. Which is why they pivoted.


I've never understood this reasoning. It requires that the grass is always greener somewhere. Its as if people have endless opportunities. They certainly do not. Plus, they took a gamble. Did they lose? I can't say they did. Unless they are owed money. If someone on the team took a job over a better one, then they, and only they, carry the cost of doing so.

They pivoted because their business model did not make the money they wanted to make. No one could have predicted it. They took the dive, and saw what there really was. Nothing wrong with that.


I wasn't arguing that they did wrong at all by trying (although I actually hated refer.ly but not the founders from the beginning, and told them this; mostly because CPA/affiliates is a scam-filled shithole, even if sometimes profitable, and the whole lie down with dogs/fleas thing).

But sticking with something past the point where it's clearly failed is where the opportunity cost argument comes in. If they'd stuck with refer.ly for an extra year after it was clearly doomed just because they had nothing better to do, that would be wasting opportunity. Pivoting into something more interesting, either with a new business or the same corporation, is the best thing to do.

A team which could easily do a bunch of other cool stuff clearly has higher inherent opportunity cost than a team fresh out of college without a lot of ideas. This is kind of why medical startups often suck, because you do need to involve MDs, and MDs have a $250k+/yr job practicing medicine (with high social status as well) as their best alternative -- so anything short of a potential big win isn't worth it for them.


- Yes, the whole affiliate thing is iffy to start with. Do agree it is something shaky to base your business on.

- Sometimes is very hard to measure how far off you are. Being in the game skews your whole perspective. Experienced or not (sadly).

- The could is what my argument is against. Everyone has opportunities. Measuring them by what could happen is a bit naive. You analyze the situation and chose that which conforms to your current needs. There might be other opportunities, but they were not as reasonable for those who had to make them option. It is rather simple for an outsider to argue the point. It is the team member the one who has to live with the decision. I don't think they lost at all. They were part of a YC startup, made connections, and ultimately can profit from the whole experience.




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