Yesterday we heard Path CEO Dave Morin talk at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference.
He mostly gave the familiar patter we've heard before about design and delight and intimacy—Path's mobile app is designed to let you share moments with a smaller, more intimate group of friends than Facebook or Twitter.
Morin hasn't talked much about how Path will make money. But a few weeks ago at DLD, a German tech conference, Morin mentioned that the company was thinking about premium subscriptions—charging users recurring fees for extra features.
Hence the HBO comparison.
For reference, Time Warner reported $8 billion in subscription revenues in 2012 for its Networks division, the business unit that includes HBO. Industry estimates have about half of that coming from HBO.
Path, a privately held company which has raised $42 million from venture capitalists to date, is currently making zero billion dollars from subscriptions.
To be clear, the company is just thinking about trying out that business. (It does currently sell fancy add-on photo filters, though we can't recall seeing any of our friends on Path using them.)
After his panel, we overheard Morin chatting with a New York-based hedge-fund manager about Facebook's ARPU, or average revenue per user, which he pointed out is around $5 a year. (Morin used to work at Facebook before starting Path.)
The gist of Morin's comments on the panel and afterwards: He'd rather get money directly from users than from advertisers, as most social networks do.
So can Path manage to extract anything like that number from its users?
Morin recently said that the company is nearing 6 million registered users, though a small fraction of that number is active on a daily basis.
Path is a fun way to stay in touch with—or annoy, really, which amounts to the same thing—your friends. But with all the different ways we have of connecting, it's hard to see it providing the kind of value it would take to pony up for a subscription.
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