Eyeo – the parent company of the notorious browser extension Adblock Plus – has acquired Flattr, a micro-donation provider for content sites built by Pirate Bay co-founder Peter Sunde.
Terms of the deal have not been disclosed; the acquisition follows a year-long collaboration as Flattr Plus, while the product hasn’t yet launched.
Flattr allows users to set aside a monthly budget to donate to their favourite publishers, which is algorithmically distributed over sites they spend the most time on. AdBlock Plus has hopes this will serve as a “sustainable” alternative to paywalls and, of course, the ad impressions it’s blocking.
Til Faida, eyeo’s founder, commented that the partnership and resulting acquisition with Flattr stem from its mission to make the web “more fair and less annoying”, pointing to AdBlock Plus’ controversial whitelisting policy, which allows “more respectable ads” to circumvent the software for a fee.
“Flattr makes micropayments automatic and effortless, thus it will be the most user-friendly payment solution on the internet,” said Faida; “Together, constructive ad blocking and Flattr complete eyeo’s vision of putting users in control of an internet that is fair and still profitable.”
“Over the past several months, it became very clear that we needed to go beyond a partnership and truly bring Flattr into the eyeo family. This allows us to go that extra mile and finalise our vision of enabling hundreds of millions of users to choose how they want to pay for the content they consume. This is a game-changer,” he added.
For the online ad industry, AdBlock Plus has been the main face of the ad blocking “epidemic”, which has seen ad-dependent publishers scramble for other means of revenue; chiefly and with limited success, that’s been directly asking users to turn off their extensions to access content.
According to eyeo, since its creation in 2010, Flattr has paid 30,000 online content creators and publishers, however, with Juniper Research estimating the revenue hit to digital publishers in the region of $27 billion, the two companies have some hefty targets to meet if they’re to win favour with publishers.
However, according to PageFair, there is evidence that consumers are waking up to the theory of value-exchange, with over 55% of consumers aware that content cannot be freely available without advertising or other forms of monetization, which at least bodes well for the partnership.
Sunde, Flattr’s creator, said that over the past 10 months, the two teams have developed a “joint vision”.
“We share almost identical values of making the internet safe and fair for everyone. We’re excited to continue our work on the Flattr project to give back control to the users of the internet. They should decide how they want to use the internet and how they want to support the content they enjoy.”
Following the acquisition, Sunde will join eyeo as an advisor while co-founder Linus Olsson will continue to head operation and implementation. Flattr’s core team will continue operations with its staff in Sweden.