What would YOU call this kind of Boost Economy sharing?

by cv harquail on June 19, 2013

Gift.  Investment.  Venture.  Share.  Starter.  Karma.
Proactive Reciprocality.  Productive Altruism.
Investment Sharing.  B2B Freemiums.
‘Give’N Maybe Get’. 
Networked Sharing.  Expectant Generosity. 

Why don’t we have a word for Boost Economy sharing?

ashe s giftI have tried each and every one of these words to describe a behavior in the Boost Economy, and none of these labels has fit.

It’s been killing me to try and find an efficient way to explain this concept. Ever since I started writing my TedXHoboken talk, I’ve gone from one iteration to another trying to hame this concept, and I am stuck. Completely stuck.

So I’m sending the question out to the interwebz and twitterverse:

What would you name the business/company behavior with these features?

  •  Giving away something of yours (your product feature, your data stream)
  • To some other company
  • For free
  • Without expecting a financial return
  • Without being able to calculate a financial return
  • Although there might be a financial return
  • And there certainly is a karmic return
  • And some other kinds of positive returns (social capital, reputation, obligation, shared interest in your success)
  • Where this gift improves or expands what someone else sells,
  • And they make money from having it in their product,
  • But (as I mention above) your company does not
  • Giving it away doesn’t actually cost you much, since you’re giving away copies (of data, for example) or something with huge economies of scale (like file storage)

 What do you think is a good/better/best way to label this behavior, when it’s done by a person or by a company?

Right now, I’m calling it Compounded Gifting. Awkward, I know. But the best way I’ve found so far to describe this behavior.

Here’s a little clip from my practice talk…

Compounded gifting is like compounded interest — it starts with a small gift that grows over time as it’s passed through the network.  

Compounded gifting starts when the boost company offers some of its data or services as a free gift to any company that wants to use it. These other companies add this gift to their own product, expanding the features of their product. 

Network technology makes these “starter” gifts easy to offer and easy to receive. Boost companies can use a software interface tool called an “API***” that allows them to exchange data and services — automatically. 

You may know Dropbox, the site that lets businesses store their files “in the cloud”?  

If we were building a product, we could use the Dropbox API and automatically add file storage in the cloud to the features we could offer.  That gift frees us to focus on what we do best.

That gift from Dropbox not only makes our product more useful, but also it gets the barebones Dropbox service out into new places in the market. That might (or might not) attract some of our customers to Dropbox, where they’d buy the full service. 

Meanwhile, the expanded product goes out into the network to help even more companies build their businesses.


While I’ve been struggling to find a word, the meta-question appeared:

 Why is it that we have no word for this kind of generous behavior?

My friend Ellen (who speaks 6 language) tells of reading an Italian newsmagazine where the author had to retreat to an English phrase, since the Italians have no precise translation for “self-control”.

Whether or not that’s true, it tells a funny story about how our cultures fail to privilege / exclude the opportunity of thinking about something, simply by having no word for it.

It’s significant that we have no word for this behavior, since we can’t show it to each other easily without having a way to name it.

stevendepolo giftsO brilliant thoughtful beings, May I ask you for a gift?

If you have any suggestions that I should try, I’d love to hear them.


** Yes I know this is the most simplistic explanation of an API ever. But it’s “directionally correct”, if not detailed. </grin>

Images: The GiftAttributionNoncommercialNo Derivative Works Some rights reserved by ash-s
Wrapped Gifts, Attribution Some rights reserved by stevendepolo


deb lavoy June 19, 2013 at 9:58 am

Pay it Forward
Value Forward
Ante Economy ( I actually like this. Its cute, accurate, edgy and a little cynical. The cynical part has both positive and negatives for me. You wanna play, you gotta ante up. Its less delightful, but more white-male relatable. )

cv harquail June 19, 2013 at 10:03 am

Wow Deb!

“Ante” is great! I just looked it up (to make sure I was thinking of more than the latin prefix) and voila:

In Poker, a fixed but arbitrary stake put into the pot by each player before the deal.
An amount of money paid in advance to insure an individual’s share in a joint business venture.

This captures the ‘arbitrary’ nature of the share (in that no one tells you that you *must do it, and the idea of a joint venture.

And of course you are right– edgy and big are good.

deb Lavoy June 19, 2013 at 11:07 am

delighted to be of service, as always :-)

Kelley Boyd June 20, 2013 at 8:57 am

While I don’t see the broad value to the “boost economy” as you have defined and tracked it these last couple of years, I do think the word “ante” accurately describes the model being used by offering API’s to extend the reach of a product. So it is in my view an Ante Business Model as opposed to Freemium / Premium which denotes something else entirely.

Just my 2¢! ;>)

cv harquail June 21, 2013 at 1:37 pm

Hi Kelley! I agree– the idea of an ‘ante’ fits perfectly with the most common API business model, since the companies are making the requisite investment (paying to play) without knowing for sure what amount of return they’ll get, and what form of value that return will be.

Probably, there’s a label for each of the 5 or so api-based business models, each one of them focused on a different element of the idea that by giving ‘away’ your feature, you’re building your business and freeing up a resource/creating an opportunity for folks who take you up on your offer.

Also Kelley, you and Whitney have both mentioned that I haven’t given a clear definition of what a boost economy/boost practice does, specifically. So I’ll write a blog post on that soon.

Many many thanks for your feedback and the trigger to think more deeply about this all!

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