Open Customer Data

Dec 29, 2021

What would you do if you could get a list of every one of your competitor's customers and their activity? That's whats happening with cryptocurrency products today.

Openness can be a customer acquisition strategy. The marginal cost of code is nearly zero, and making your source code available (open source) can sometimes be a good tradeoff. Many MicroSaaS developers have found that "building in public" and posting their analytics can be another source of potential customers. But what about making your actual customer data available to everyone?

OpenSea is a peer-to-peer marketplace for NFTs that's received over $127M in venture funding. It makes money by taking 2.5% of every transaction that happens on the platform. While the company does not publish any of its data, all of its customers pay each other with cryptocurrency. Any observer could track the addresses that this 2.5% take rate goes to and create a list of customers on the platform, who they trade with, for how much, and when they make purchases.

Another entity, OpenDAO launched on Christmas this year, with an interesting deal for the users of OpenSea – anyone who has transacted on OpenSea would get a proportional amount of the new cryptocurrency token. It's unclear what the token will be used for, but out of the 850,000 OpenSea users, more than 275,000 have already claimed their reward on the new platform.

I don't know whether or not users will continue to use the next platform, but offering coupons, rewards, or incentives to a competitor's product is a distribution hack that solves one of the hardest parts of building a new product – finding out where your customers are. SaaS products already offer generous discounts when you switch from a competitor like contract buyouts and better terms. I'm not sure what the equilibrium in the market is, another competitor could come along and offer better incentives to OpenDAO's customers just as easily. Maybe companies will go back to doing whatever they can to hide their customer lists.

Subscribe for daily posts on startups & engineering.