App monetization startup Massive has announced it plans to enable individuals to rent out spare compute power in exchange for access to apps and services.
Jason Grad, Massive’s CEO, revealed on Twitter earlier this week that the company had closed a $11 million seed round, allowing it to move forward with a monetization software development kit (SDK) that could support the project. Massive’s goal, as Grad explains, is to re-decentralize the internet and make it possible for people to pay for apps using their idle compute power.
It’s a unique solution to a tired problem: how app developers and service providers manage to make money off of their work. The conventional route is to charge users money, as with a one-time 99-cent app download fee or a monthly charge for subscription services. Those who wish to make their work free to the public often elect to charge users an attention tax by implementing on-screen ads, which allow them to make money behind the scenes. (Many of your favorite mobile games likely use this model.) But upfront costs often turn off new customers, while others prefer to enjoy an ad-free experience.
Massive’s idea involves taking the concept of distributed computing—which utilizes extra CPU cycles on otherwise idle machines—and making it into a method of payment. Similar to how individuals can rent their unused vehicles and homes on Turo and Airbnb, Grad says, those with unused compute power can passively pay for apps and services they already use and enjoy.
To those new to the idea behind distributed computing, Massive’s model may sound a bit invasive. (It is relying on your personal device, after all.) But Massive seems to be placing security and digital consent at the forefront, promising on its website that users must opt into the model to participate and can opt out at any time. Part of the company’s motivation seems to be dismantling the internet’s reliance on nosy marketing practices, thus reducing the amount of personal information users unwittingly give away. Antivirus protections are also supposedly baked into the software at Massive’s core.
Rather than make its own apps, Massive works with third-party partners to bring its model to customers. For now, Massive is only compatible with desktop apps, though Grad says he hopes to eventually bring Massive to mobile. More than 50,000 computer users have already opted into the model.
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